The recession has forced Biglaw firms to lay off some of the best and the brightest in the legal field. Many of these Biglaw refugees have wound up seeking out contract work (despite the long-term risks), and that means the pool of contract attorneys is mighty pretty right now. In-house legal departments have noticed and are taking advantage, reports the Legal Intelligencer (in an article we mentioned in the Holiday Docket yesterday).
In an ACC survey about the effects of the recession that we wrote about last week, 51% of in-house folks reported an increased workload last year. And staffing firms say that general counsel are looking to them to help out. Gina Passarella writes:
Project attorneys are a more viable answer to the budget problem in part because there are so many skilled lawyers out of work due to layoffs at AmLaw 200 firms and the consolidation of legal departments prior to the economic downturn, which led to cuts in those departments as well, [staffing firm owner James] LaRosa said.
“The pool of contract attorneys right now is exceptional,” he said.
A typical candidate right now would have experience at either an AmLaw 200 firm or a specialized boutique, and oftentimes will have law department experience as well.
The pool may be exceptional, but the pay is not. Will contract attorneys be as appealing once the economy bounces back and Harvard grads can get big-paying, Biglaw jobs again?