Contract Lawyers Get Paid Less, But May See More Job Opportunities

Contract lawyers are seeing a drop in hourly pay as more laid-off colleagues join their ranks, but there may be a silver lining in the economic downturn for those who prefer contract jobs.

Gregory Bufithis, who runs The Posse List contract job website, tells the National Law Journal that the going rate for contract lawyers in New York and Washington, D.C., is about $30 to $32 an hour, compared to $38 before the downturn.

The upside of the downturn—for contract lawyers but not necessarily associates—is that law firms experimenting with new staffing models to satisfy value-driven clients may create more contract jobs.

James Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement, talked to the National Law Journal about possible changes. “Law firms are re-imagining how to use lawyer talent,” he said. “Different firms find different solutions. There could be some wins for contract lawyers in that restructuring.”

Some recruiters are already reporting growing demand for contract lawyers. Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal, said there is greater demand for staffing agency lawyers, particularly in litigation, intellectual property, bankruptcy and foreclosure work. There is “an uptick in the number of candidates coming through our doors” and increased demand from law firms and corporations, he told the NLJ.

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