Busting Myths With Our Shoes

A recent National Law Journal article on the current market for contract attorneys perpetuates some unfortunate misconceptions and generalizations about the practice, the attorneys who choose to work this way, and companies that assist them in identifying opportunities with law firms and corporate legal departments. The article really got my blood boiling.

There’s little doubt that the increasing volume of electronic document review work, coupled with off-shoring and a challenging economy, has led to downward pressure on rates and less than optimal working conditions in certain markets. But to write, as Ms. Kay did, that all contract work consists of "low-level document review" at hourly rates of $30-35 an hour under deplorable working conditions? That is just simply wrong, as is the suggestion that contract lawyers are, as a group, both discontented and without other career options.

We work every day with in-house departments and law firm managers who seek creative solutions to managing a host of complex issues while controlling costs. Our clients are seeking assistance in all practice areas, from managing EEOC investigations to negotiating complex contracts to drafting appellate briefs (and everything in-between). E-discovery has also provided many flexible work options for our attorneys, and our clients receive great value when these attorneys continue to work on the case as it proceeds. It is important to note, however, that rather than “settling” for temporary assignments, our attorneys have made an active decision to practice in a non-traditional way, one that provides more control over their lives and schedules. We have countless attorneys who have chosen to make working with Counsel On Call their career. In turn, we treat them as the highly competent professionals they are.

We have a saying around here: “Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.” We invoke it when dealing with the attorneys who work with us, with our clients and with our co-workers, and believe it helps everyone involved in an assignment feel comfortable and work effectively. We’re fortunate that our clients are also very concerned about work environments and benefits offered to our attorneys, and we never put our people in a situation in which we ourselves wouldn’t work. For these and other reasons, our attorneys are not "discontented” and instead give us rave reviews, continuing to refer other attorneys as both candidates and clients.

While it is unfortunate that certain agencies have treated attorneys shabbily as market pressures increase, it is unfair to suggest, as the article did, that all do.

NOTE: The National Law Journal ran our letter-to-the-editor response to the article on Jan. 26.