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Contract lawyers becoming more prevalent

Posted on June 15th, 2011 Read time: 1 minutes

Despite once being an entrance into a life of prestige and power, the legal profession has felt the blow of the economic recession.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the legal industry is increasingly relying on temporary workers – or contract attorneys – instead of hiring in-house lawyers.

There is a rising backlog of unemployed lawyers, many of whom are recent law school graduates who face an uphill battle with debt. Short-term jobs can pay as little as $15 an hour, which amounts to anywhere from $40,000 to $50,000 annually – a far cry from the average starting salary of $160,000 for associates at some large corporate law firms in New York.

According to temp industry tracking group Staffing Industry Analysts, temporary legal staffing in the U.S. is projected to increase by 25 percent over the next two years. In addition, more than one-third of the 876 companies surveyed in June by the Association of Corporate Counsel reported that they had used contract attorneys in the previous fiscal year.

The ABA Journal points out that these contract positions provide little chance for advancement, offer low prestige, a lack of steady employment and a work atmosphere in which breaks are limited.

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