1. (U.S. slang, esp. among writers) A professional writer paid little to produce large amounts of content or a large number of articles in a short period for any type of commercial publication as part of an entry-level writing position or contract work; typically a copy jockey's pay rate or employer requirements force her to disregard good style, structure, grammar and/or sound research, not because she is incapable of fine writing, but because her pay rate and/or deadlines will not permit intense attention to detail without making the writer destitute; in cases of Internet copy jockeys, work may feature black-hat SEO tactics like excessive keyword stuffing (See: "Word Salad"); a hack 2. A poorly paid or unpaid intern or contractor anywhere, but especially in law practices, whose primary responsibilities include basic clerical work, such as creating a large number of photocopies by a given deadline. 3. A real-estate agent who sells properties whose listings were secured by other agents; typically such agents do not make as much as those who generate listings.
"Although the company's Craigslist ad stated they were looking for young journalists with a fresh perspective, their stated pay rate revealed they could only afford a copy jockey."
"Tell that copy jockey Brad to grab me a coffee on his way back from Kinkos."
"If you don't take the initiative to get your own listings, you'll always be Frank's copy jockey."
Derivation: Probably a singsong comparison between the speed with which legal interns must work and the speed with which horse jockeys must ride. Also, likely, a comparison between the low salaries both jobs offer. See: "copy" and "jockey."
The earliest online usage of the term among the legal community dates from 2005. The earliest instance of its use as Definition 1 is found in 2008 business emails by American journalist, poet, comic-book writer and critic Phillip DeNune Provance. Provance likely requisitioned the term from an unidentified New York City paralegal. Since the second half of the same decade, the term has entered wider usage, especially among bloggers, as an epithet for the underpaid and over-worked in all professions.
Compare "copy jockey" with "hack": A "copy jockey" knows how to write better, but either does not have time or is required to write poorly; a "hack," in contrast, is oblivious to the low quality of her work.