Who are these people?

Jill Rorem, Esq., is senior manager, legal staffing at Blackman Kallick (www.blackmanstaffing.com). Jill oversees the successful recruitment of attorneys, paralegals and contract legal professionals. Jill (and the Blackman team) staffs document reviews using qualified contract attorneys and thus, works with attorneys-in-transition daily. You can follow her at twitter.com/roremlegalstaff.

As someone who regularly goes in front of clients and potential clients to “sell” our document review teams and facilities, I am asked this same question over and over by the “buyers”: who are the attorneys who work as contract attorneys and why do they work in this capacity?

So, who are these people? Which ones should you hire for your document review?  Consider the following types:

  • The New Grad: Law schools are relentlessly dumping thousands of new graduates into the market each year and fewer employers are able to hire them, so they register for temp work and review documents to combat their mounting law school loans. These folks are eager beavers ready to soak up any legal knowledge and do any legal work they can get their hands on. If you hire a new grad for your review, make sure that the review is either fairly simple or that you are prepared to be very available for in depth training and direction throughout the project. You can expect to pay below market for attorneys with this experience level.
  • The Downsizee: These are the attorneys who are casualties of downsizing that is still occurring in big firms and small firms alike. They are typically experienced attorneys from a variety of practice areas. They may or may not be skilled in document review (i.e., they may have negotiated leases until they were downsized). If you hire a downsizee, you’ll likely get a solid attorney with a practical perspective and a strong work ethic. You may, however, lose them when a permanent position arises.
  • The Supplementor: This attorney is looking to supplement their down time with work that pays. This person could be a stay-at-home mom who wants to work on a project here and there to supplement her income or keep her brain moving. This could also be a solo attorney whose practice is not yet large enough to keep them consistently busy and picks up contract projects when things are slow. Supplementors appreciate a flexible “come and go as you please” arrangement (as opposed to a rigid 9-5 schedule) so that they can run off to court or take a child to an appointment.
  • The Career Contractor: These are attorneys that chose the contract route over a traditional firm or corporate position. These folks traded the stress of deadlines, court appearances and billable hours for flexibility and the luxury of mentally leaving their work in the office. They know the “drill” when it comes to ideal projects, top agencies and competitive rates. Beware – they have seen it all and are not afraid to sound off when something isn’t right. They know every discovery tool and often serve as team leads or project managers.

Over the past few years, as the market has drastically shifted towards using economical contract attorneys over using expensive associates to review documents, the question of “who are contract attorneys” has become a recurring question. Knowing the make-up of the contract attorney community and the various types of reviewers is helpful in planning a document review.  Whether you hire a New Grad, a Downsizee, a Supplementor or a Career Contractor, rest assured that the contractors are people too! They are educated, worldly, artistic, funny, multi-lingual, creative, analytic, sarcastic, knowledgeable, cultured, sophisticated, polite, enjoyable, meticulous, reliable, hard working, athletic, well-dressed, clever, brainy, quick, sharp, thought provoking and the list goes on. I always tell my clients that the key to a thriving contract attorney/document review team is to know the type of attorney you want on the project, and articulate your desires to your agency. If you are working with an agency that understands the make-up of the contractor “pool” and how to best utilize each type of contractor, your review will be a success.

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