Lawyer is jobless and sleeping in his car after losing suit seeking OT for document review

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A contract lawyer who claimed he should have been paid overtime for document-review work has suffered another setback with a judge’s decision to toss his would-be class action.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan of Manhattan ruled in a Sept. 16 opinion (PDF) that plaintiff David Lola was engaged in the practice of law and not entitled to overtime pay. The defendants were Tower Legal Staffing and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Reuters blogger Alison Frankel spoke with Lola, who said he was calling from his car where he had slept the night. As a result of the lawsuit, Lola said, no one would hire him as a contract lawyer, and he can no longer make payments on his student debt or on his other bills. The Reuters story is here.

Lola initially enrolled in the University of San Diego School of Law because it was close by and his employer, Warner-Lambert, was paying his tuition, Reuters says. A pharmaceutical researcher, Lola hoped to graduate law school and switch to advising Warner-Lambert on drug patents.

But Lola lost the tuition reimbursement when Pfizer acquired Warner-Lambert. Lola thought his salary would cover his law school tuition, but he had to stop working after he was hit by a car. He graduated law school in 2003, but he was in debt.

For four years, Lola worked at a couple different law firms in California, then he quit to go solo. As troubles emerged in Lola’s marriage, he moved with his wife so she could be near her family, ending up in North Carolina, where he did contract work.

Lola told Reuters he’s considering giving up the legal profession and may look for a job building houses.

A friend of Lola’s, a California lawyer who didn’t want to be identified, has also worked in document review. “Like a lot of other lawyers, David is just looking for whatever he can find,” the friend told Reuters. “The common theme is desperation.”

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