Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Popularity of Temporary Lawyers Grows in Crowded Market

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Popularity of Temporary Lawyers Grows in Crowded Market

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- Sondra Sellars is a lawyer with 28 years' experience. But what she really wants to be is an actress.

So she's chucked full-time law-yering for temporary legal work.

"Practicing law pays a lot more than waiting tables," she said. "The acting gives me an opportunity to do pure, creative work, while the legal work helps me to hone my mind." Temporary lawyering has become a multimillion-dollar-a-year industry, fueled by attorneys pushed out of law firms where they did not make partner, graduates entering a crowded field, lawyers who need extra cash and those who want to get off the 80-hours-a-week fast track and find a more fulfilling life. Sellars has been a temp lawyer since 1994. She works about 40 hours a week for a Chicago manufacturing company. She estimates she could earn twice as much if she had a permanent job, but it wouldn't be worth it. "I have flexibility and can come and go as long as the work is done," she said. The biggest negative, she said, is paying her own health insurance and planning for retirement without a company's 401(k). With twice as many lawyers per capita as 50 years ago -- and law schools pumping out thousands of graduates each year -- attorneys must be more creative about how they earn a living. That includes temporary employment, where lawyers work full-time for corporations and law firms but only for a few weeks or months at a time. Demand is picking up, too. Companies and law firms like the arrangement because contract lawyers are cheaper than staff attorneys, work through a crunch, leave when the overload is done and free a firm's own employees for other work. "When you get a large project, with maybe 20 people doing document review over the course of two months, those cost savings are pretty significant," said Jim Michalowicz, manager of litigation for the DuPont in Wilmington, Del. …

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