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News From Our Blog
- File For Unemployment Benefits Right Away – The second the project is declared to be over, file for unemployment benefitsimmediately. Even if you plan on seeking another project right away, you never know for sure – so it’s best to file just to be on the safe side. In D.C. there is a one week waiting period before your unemployment benefits kick in so it’s better to file earlier than later. The maximum $359 pretax you can currently receive in benefits per week goes a long way in helping you take care of unavoidable expenses like rent and mortgage. Don’t miss out on your entitlement.
- Interview With Agencies You Haven’t Registered With – It’s important to diversify your staffing agency portfolio. Don’t just limit yourself to the brand name agencies like Update or Ajilon/Staffwise, but branch out into the smaller firms like Delta Group or Solomon-Page. Remember, not all agencies have an equal hand in staffing specific projects so it’s always best to maximize your contacts.
- Search For Contract Projects – I recommend mass emailing all of your favorite staffing agencies to ask if there are projects currently available or if there are any planned projects in the pipeline. If you’re already registered with the agency, there’s no need to draft a fancy email, so just get straight to the point – what you’re looking for and when you are ready. I suggest emailing or calling daily if you’re adamant about rolling over right away.
- Search For Full Time Permanent Positions – If temp life is no longer for you, you can start your job search during your down time. Good luck, it’s an extremely tough market for attorneys now due to the over-saturation of law students and law schools.
- Take On A Few Pro Bono Cases – Have you considered taking on a few pro-bono cases with the DC Bar? It’s an invaluable way to get real world experience in legal practice, particularly if there’s a field you’ve always wanted to enter.
- Brush Up On the Law Or Learn More About Another Field To Increase Your Skill Set – Clicking away daily at your computer station, your legal skills will inevitably start to get rusty. It doesn’t hurt to take some time brushing up on the legal basics again. I always read my bar magazines, and enjoy tracking legal developments in the news and following legal blogs like the Wall Street Journal.
- Register A Domain And Create Your Own Professional Self Promotional Website – Most attorneys are notoriously slow when it comes to math and computers. That’s probably one of the reasons why we all ended up choosing to attend law school. But if you ever intend to start a solo practice or perform some type of legal practice, it doesn’t hurt to start up your own professional website. At the very least you should try to reserve your chosen domain name before someone else of the same name does. Most attorneys use their own name in the domain address with “law” following it, e.g. johndoelaw.com (which interestingly is still available at the time of this writing). I suggest reserving your domain name and hosting it using popular internet registration sites like GoDaddy or DreamHost (the one I use), but there are many others.
- Chill, Relax, and Enjoy Your Time Off – I personally use the time I have off between projects as my built-in vacation time. Rather than rolling over immediately I occasionally like to take a few days or weeks off to unwind and rest my carpel tunneled right wrist from all that clicking. It’s one of the many curses and blessings of contract attorney work – although we don’t always get to determine exactly when we have time off, we have the luxury of having longer voluntary time off gaps throughout the working year.
It’s not just the work load and projects that may get sent over there, but it’s also the problems that go along with this line of work including tedious hours, a sedentary lifestyle, boredom, monotony, lack of social contact, sleep deprivation, lack of family contact, and a myriad of digestive and health related issues.
Those who are determined to maximize their contract attorney opportunities by exclusively working long hour projects will usually have to sacrifice some of their physical, mental, and social needs for the financial payoff. Even Indian workers in our contract attorney parallel universe over there will likely face similar health effects in the long term.
Working Long Hours Requires Substantial Trade Offs
It’s not easy working long hours sometimes. When you are coming in to work at 8 a.m. and leaving at 12:00 midnight, 7 days a week for many weeks at a time, there isn’t much time to do anything else. During those exhausting stints, everything else is secondary and placed on hold. What time is there left to do anything else?
When you come home so late and have to sleep right away to get ready to wake up super early again the next day, there isn’t much time to socialize with family, pet the dog, or even to take care of routine household chores. Weekdays blend into weekends and merge back into weekdays without much differentiation. Unless you check the calendar routinely or start etching lines onto the wall to track the passage of days, each day feels pretty much the same.
Contract Project Amenities Are a Blessing And a Curse
Many firms and agencies that host very long hour projects (70+ hours) will frequently try to make it easier for workers to log those type of hours by extending office hours and providing amenities like free catering, reimbursed meals, internet access, free coffee, and even reimbursed transportation and parking costs. All of these extra benefits serve as a blessing and a curse. Without them, there is absolutely no way I’d personally be motivated or driven enough to work the extra hours. But when they are offered, the sirenic financial and convenient lure is difficult to resist.
I find myself at the office and the review center at all hours, working away at my workstation for periods of time that seem endless. My regular fitness plans at the gym pretty much go out the window at that point and I live a very sedentary life while the project is underway. I’m only released from this voluntary servitude once the project is over. This is not really a complaint, but more of a social commentary. I guess the financial payoff is so lucrative that I’ve made the decision that any temporary health and social detriments are worth it.
Short Working Bursts Are Okay But Don’t Work Yourself Into The Family Split, Hospital, Or Grave
The article notes that India’s outsourcing workforce frequently face sleep disorders, heart disease, depression, and family discord. The industry is highly profitable but there is a high prevalence of psychological problems, bad diets, as well as excessive smoking and drinking. Since contract attorneys frequently work similar tedious hours and perform similar repetitive work, that might explain why we also face similar health and social problems as well. I guess that might help to explain one of the reasons why I’ve met many contract attorneys with weird, quirky, and mentally odd personalities.
But at least contract attorney work here is generally a daytime position that doesn’t pervasively require night shifts (although there have been 24 hours projects in the past). The Indians that perform outsourced jobs on the other side of the world have to contend with working flipped schedules that demand late evening shifts. Particularly for those Indians that work in the outsourced call center industry, they need to work at night to properly handle daytime calls from the United states and Europe operating in different time zones. I wonder if those in India who might be eventually called upon to perform legal outsourced work would be required to work such flipped schedules to properly coordinate with management activity originating in the United States. If so, they are in for a host of sacrificial problems.
But my advice to legal contract workers here is to try to keep your life in a good balance. Sure you’ll make a ton of money from working long overtime hours, but do take time off to exercise, stretch outside, and go outside for a quick breather. There are many gyms in the Washington D.C. area and although membership may be a bit pricey, I think taking an occasional break during the week to run on the treadmill and shower afterwards might do everyone some good. And stop smoking, it’s expensive and bad for you – but then you already knew that right?
It’s been years since I graduated from law school, clerked, worked a few “real” attorney jobs, and yet I find myself now sitting at my workstation, pondering my situation. The world stream is passing me by and sometimes I wonder if I’ve missed it completely or whether I’m simply fishing in the wrong pond.
Reflecting On Past and Present Goals But Facing Reality
I am generally an optimistic person so it’s pretty difficult to get me down, but sometimes it’s not easy working as a contract attorney. The temp lifestyle is lucrative and stress free, but the uneasy instability can be hard to handle sometimes. It’s great to preach faith and resiliency, but sometimes reality can be rather harsh and unfeeling. Yes, I am a contract attorney. I bounce from position to position collecting a pretty stellar paycheck from week to week. Projects range from weeks to months to even years, but at the end of it all, I am still on my own. I don’t have my own legal practice and I don’t have a growing client roll to build off from. But therein lies the quandary I am faced with. With 3 years of legal education and the subsequent degree and job experience to show for it, why is it that I haven’t continued to chase my dreams then? The answer is – my goals and dreams in life have changed.
I entered law school with delusions of legal grandeur with the equivalent sense of reality enjoyed by the ostrich that chooses to plug its head into the ground. Upon acceptance of admission, I was immediately cocooned and safe for the next 3 years from working expectations and the real world. My goal was to study hard in law school, get good grades, join a journal team or moot court, and graduate with a perfect lawyer job all lined up.
Reality did not finally set in until my third year and second semester of law school, when one day I looked around and realized that I was in the wrong place. No I was not lost, but I came to the understanding that the practice of law wasn’t the lucrative and exciting profession I had naively envisioned. Gazing at my modest pile of student loans I wondered, was 3 years of expensive legal schooling really worth it? Perhaps my life would have taken a better turn if I had walked a different path.
We Can’t Go Back But We Can Make Our Own Paths From Here On Out
Eventually, we all have to come to grips with reality and recognize the cards we’ve been dealt. Reality is reality, and things can only get better not worse if we’d only take the time to look at all of the positive skills and experiences we have accumulated since the beginning.
I know contract attorneys come from all backgrounds. Not all temps have come to such a realization that the traditional legal rat race isn’t really going to make them happy. Some, and in fact many are still striving for their original law school dreams. If you are one of those chasers, I encourage you to keep striving higher to meet them and not grow bitter with your temping situation. Contract work will cushion your financial transition and allow you to use the opportunity as a stepping stone to a situation better geared to suit your dreams.
As for myself, the goals and dreams I started law school with are no longer mine. I look at my life now and I have many things to be thankful for. My monthly bills are paid and I have an otherwise healthy and enjoyable life. I have the abundance of time and freedom to pursue my non-legal side businesses and investments. Contract attorney work pays very well and I am not even close to wanting. While I might be honed in the art, I know now that I was never cut out to be a legal hustler in the traditional sense. I have other side ventures that drive me now. Talking to other contract attorneys and listening to their stories about their real estate exploits, interior decorating businesses, and even presidential campaign team aspirations – it lets me know that I am not alone.
I previously touted the financially joyful benefits of working during official holidays to earn double overtime. Now I have a concession/confession to make. I personally won’t be working during the next couple of weeks or during the upcoming holiday break.
Earning extra overtime is certainly great, but it’s just not worth the extra sacrifice for me right now. There are more important places I need to be at and more important people I need to be with during this time than spending it cooped up in an unventilated, stuffy room clicking away on a computer.
Knowing When To Keep Time Off Information To Yourself
It’s been a wonderful luxury to be able to set my own working schedule. Since the summer I’ve been working on the same project and have taken a few days off here and there. In general, agencies don’t mind when you take very infrequent time off but when you do it too often they are likely to see it as a serious problem that warrants prompt terminative action.
Spend Time with Friends and Family
One of our favorite things to do when I have the time is to spend time cooking with the family. Working too hard can have some long term side effects and you can get burnt out. It’s important to have fun with your family and friends when you take time off and most people enjoy eating, so it’s a great way to do this.
One of my friends just recently introduced me to cooking on the griddle and the health benefits of doing so. I never used to care much about the cooking surfaces of my foods but as you get older you start to care about your health more.
The electric griddle has become my new tool of choice for quick and easy meals. The cast iron griddle is great as well but can be a bit difficult for my family to handle, so we just keep the electric griddle plugged in 24/7 indtead.
If you’re looking for a healthy way to cook your food and want something fast and easy, then I would highly recommend looking into using griddles, rather than the modern cookware that’s popular today.
Inaccurate projections and overestimations
Agencies are notorious for providing very inaccurate projections and overestimations of project duration. I understand that sometimes it’s not possible to pinpoint exactly how long something will last, but I think certain agencies frequently provide exaggerations to coax more interest from prospective contract attorney applicants.
This makes it extra difficult to plan vacations around project estimations.
So, I think it is in every contract attorney’s own working interest not to reveal whether he or she plans on taking time off when inquiring about project availability. Disclosing such information to the agency will only lead to negative results in you not being considered for projects that you would otherwise have been submitted for. Besides, deciding when and if you plan on taking time off in the contract attorney business is a very fluid decisional process.
Conclusion: Spend time with family!
Originally I thought I would try to maximize my working hours and overtime opportunities by plugging through the holidays, but I ultimately reconsidered and decided my time would be better spent with family and loved ones. Money is important, but it’s not every thing. Heeding my own advice, I didn’t alert the agency until the last possible moment (a few days before my planned time off), although I did reasonably make sure the project would not be too understaffed while I was away.
Motivation is one thing that is very important for any business owner. It does not matter if you are an internet marketer, blogger, online boutique owner, or direct sales rep, the key to your success is your motivation! Self-motivation is your desire to achieve what you believe is of worth.If you are not motivated to continue to grow or learn you might as well hang in your towel now, becuase your business with not be successful.
Here are 5 Motivational Tips You May Find Helpful
Develop Your Plan:
You must have plans for achieving your desired result from your actions. How will you get your blog to be the next top blog, what steps do you need to take to increase your income by 5K a year or how do you plan on getting your services in front of 100 new people. You must have a plan if you want to be successful.
I have heard some people say they do not use a plan in their business because they do not want to feel like they have failed in their quest if they do not get to their desirable results. Even if you do fail in one aspect of your business, it is ok.
A great quote I head a long time ago from an unknown author is…
Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.
Everyone has to learn and no one who has a business that is worth anything has accomplished it without some failures.
Set Your Priorities:
In order to be effectively and stay motivated setting your goals or priorities will help you accomplish what you want to with your business. When you know what your goals are you need to prioritize them in order to work efficiently. When you set goals it will give you motivation and focus.
Surround Yourself With Positive People:
Anyone who is in your life that is not positive will ONLY bring you down. You can leverage by being around positive people only. If you have negative in your surroundings, it will only do harm and bring down your motivation.
If you are happy with your business ventures, do not let anyone change your mind. You will always have people who are JEALOUS and people who ENVY your success. Pay them no attention at all, as they are miserable with their own life and lack of success and want everyone else to feel the same way. These same people will do you nothing other than lower your motivation.
Everyone right now who owns a business is noticing the affects of the economy right now. As a small business owner I know exactly what everyone is going through, as my own income has dropped significantly the last several months. The need to work longer hours for internet marketers and the need for small home business owners to take a look at how we can adjust during this financial crisis is among us.
Here are 5 tips any small business can use to survive during our current economic situation.
Start Cutting Costs
To keep your bottom line income up, look for ways you can cut costs. Cut out any spending that is not making money currently. Start to barter for products and services. I have always been a fan of bartering when possible and there is no better time to barter than now!
Start looking for additional streams of income
If your business has slowed down, take the opportunity to review other money making opportunities. You may find one opportunity is doing much better than another right now. The one good thing about my business is that I do have multiple streams of income. In the event I lose one source of income I still have several others I can rely on.
Keep an eye on your cash
Right now banks are not lending as much money as normal, so you need to make sure you have enough money to last through the rough times. If you have savings accounts or any additional extra money, invest this money into a short term IRA or other investment opportunity. Make sure if you do invest any money it is in a short term agreement, that way in the event you need it you will not be penalized.
Focus on your time
If your business is slow right now, take the opportunity to work on other aspects of your business that you would not normally spend as much time on. Start networking more or work on the promotion of your website. Start looking for free ways you can promote your business and work on those while you are slow with business. When the economy picks back up you will be prepared.
Keep your head up
Do not throw in the towel on your business. Things will get better. I am sure many small businesses are frustrated and ready to call it quits right now, which I can understand. Stay motivated at all costs. Read these 3 motivational tips and focus your time on productive activities that will help build your business back up when the economy is back to normal!
Do you have any other tips for small businesses during this slow time?
Well it’s another manic Monday and after a relaxing but much too short Thanksgiving weekend, it’s back to the old click-click grindstone again.
I didn’t really do anything terribly exciting during the holiday weekend but it was a very appreciated rest for the weary. I thought about it but ultimately decided against joining in the Black Friday shopping craze. Those hardcore shoppers are too tough for me and I think my time would be better spent shopping online. Luckily, the associates are out again as usual and we are only about half staffed since many contract attorneys are still out, presumably still suffering from the post holiday I-Don’t-Wanna-Go-Back-To-Work-Wah-Wah syndrome. I totally understand their sentiments. Since work is so slow today, I’ll probably sneak in break time to do some online holiday shopping at my work station and take advantage of post Thanksgiving deals – Cyber Monday they call it.
It’s Not Always Easy
I haven’t taken substantial time off in a long while and this winter I would like to but I think my plans will have to wait a little while longer. My project continues to be extended and now it’s looking like it will last well into the new year. Contract attorney work is generally flexible but its fickle nature sometimes means that vacation plans have to be put on hold until the project has completely run its course. Contract work pays the bills and as much as I’d like to say with all confidence that jumping from one project to another seamlessly is a piece of cake, you never really know for sure.
The temporary lawyer job market ebbs and flows and currently the market is severely dehydrated. Numerous smaller projects are out there, but the key mega ones are a bit lacking right now. I think the real estate mortgage mess and the resulting credit crisis is causing corporations and law firms alike to be more conservative with their business plans. With less corporate activity happening, there is less demand for contract attorneys. But fear not, although the market is slow right now even in a normally active place like D.C., if you follow the contract attorney job forums and postings like I do, you will notice that there still remains a respectable number of active projects. Hopefully the start of a few big projects at one well known firm in the Falls Church area will serve as a catalyst to get things busy around here again.
Delaying Extended Vacations Plans Till Later
Since my working opportunities might be unpredictably murky after this project is over, I think it’ll probably be better for me to pocket the income now when the going is good and still available. Although I generally have day to day working freedom, unlike those who have permanent positions I don’t have the luxury of paid vacations and the security of knowing that my position will still be here when I return. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. I’ve been generally lucky so far in being able to roll over consistently from project to project on my own terms, but the gravy train might end one day. Maybe eventually my acceptance and patience for this type of high-income-but-unstable line of work will run out, but for now it fits my lifestyle and financial plans.
- Be prepared
- Have a clear idea in your mind as to what you want done.
- Make it easy for the contractor to understand and visualize what the completed job will look like. Draw a sketch or layout. Show him pictures from a magazine that inspired your idea, or just write a page or two describing in as much detail as you can what you want.
- Get off on the right foot
- Communication is the key to getting off on the right foot with a contractor, and staying there. Ask questions, and expect him to ask questions back.
- First impressions are very important for both you and the contractor. Make sure you are at home and ready to meet with the contractor at the scheduled time. If something unavoidable comes up, call him to reschedule. Expect the same from him.
- Don’t ask the contractor for a “drop off bid.” It’s important for both of you to meet face to face.
- Ask the right questions
- Is he the owner of the business, or a salesman?
- Ask who will be performing the work? Will he or a foreman be there each day leading the crew, or will he be sub-contracting some of the work to another company?
- Has he done projects like yours before?
- Is he confident about the amount of time the project will take, and on how much the materials will cost?
- How will change orders be handled?
- Ask for their policy regarding clean-ups and removal of waste from your property.
- What does their warranty cover, and what is excluded from coverage?
- Who is responsible for obtaining the proper permits?
- Get the right documents
- Insist on a written proposal that states very specifically the work to be done, who will be doing it, and for how much. The cost should be broken out into materials and labor. It should include an estimated start and completion date. It must also include specifications on the materials to be used.
- A blueprint should be used for any major project, along with floor plans and elevations, so there are no misunderstandings as to what the finished job should look like. Drawing up a blueprint is sometimes included in the bid from the contractor, or you may need to hire an architect to do it for you.
- Make sure to get a copy of a written warranty. Read and understand it. If you have any questions regarding it, now is the time to ask them.
- Get copies of the contractor’s liability insurance policy, his workman’s compensation policy and any required licenses, if applicable.
- Review the estimates
- Take the time to review each company’s estimate. Make absolutely sure you are comparing apples to apples. If you are uncertain about any item on the estimate, call the contractors for an explanation.
- Even if you have no questions, call each contractor anyway just to see how easy they are to reach, and how promptly they return phone calls.
- Ask yourself some questions
- Which contractor did you feel the most at ease with?
- Which one seemed the most knowledgeable and professional?
- Which one was the easiest to reach, and provided polite, courteous answers to your questions?
- Who had the lowest price? The highest? What are the differences between these two bids? Look again to be sure the bids are apples to apples.
- Make your final decision
- Use the process of elimination to exclude contractors who did not provide the proper paperwork, or did not return your phone calls within a reasonable time.
- Never make your decision on price alone.
- Choose the contractor you felt the most comfortable with. The one that inspired the most trust and confidence in you.
In the home improvement industry we often come across tales of rogue tradesmen and cowboy builders, dodgy conservatories, and poorly fitted double glazing windows. It is something that costs our industry huge amounts of money every year and compromises the trust that people have in companies such as ours. However, here at Double Glazing Prices we aim to battle this problem head on by providing our customers with only the best tradesmen, designers, surveyors, and fitters operating in the UK today.
We Work With the Best Fitters in the UK Today…
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Treat Your Home to Double Glazing Windows This Christmas…
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