Every law office has a few of them: underperforming legal secretaries, assistants and paralegals. Some of them slip in at 10 a.m., scoot out at 4 p.m. and disappear for hours in between. Others routinely work overtime — but with no apparent results.

They’re sloppy and slow and sometimes surly. Their desks might be smooth and pristine, with about as much evidence of occupation as a model kitchen at Home Depot. Or else they sit surrounded by towers of paper that never move — unless precarious swaying counts as movement.