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Outsourcing: California Upswing

By Kari Santos | Oct. 2, 2014

Law Office Management

Oct. 2, 2014

Outsourcing: California Upswing

An industry survey shows U.S. law firms are pulling back on hiring contract attorneys, but California may be different.

Nationally, law firm leaders are expressing less demand for contract lawyers, although most still expect temporary staffing to be a permanent feature of their businesses. The 2014 "Law Firms in Transition" survey from Altman Weil - which tallied responses from 304 managing partners and chairs at U.S. firms with 50 or more lawyers - found 72 percent think firms will always use contract lawyers, down from 75 percent the year before.

Law firms tend to use temporary lawyers for labor-intensive parts of litigation or for document review during an acquisition, work that midlevel associates would have done at higher cost before the recession, California recruiters said.

The share of firms larger than 250 attorneys that report using contract lawyers slid from 88 percent to 78 percent in 2014. The drop was even more dramatic among smaller firms, from 71 percent to 52 percent. But Leah Hoffman, Silicon Valley branch director of the Robert Half Legal staffing agency, says she has seen contract hiring on the upswing across California. She credits the recovering economy: Firms need more short-term help, and there's more competition for the best candidates on the job market.

Asked about the most likely agent for change in the overall legal market over the next ten years, 34 percent of law firm leaders told Altman Weil that it will be in-house departments, while 32 percent cited technology and 15 percent pointed to independent service providers. Only 10 percent expect law firms to take the lead in reinventing the legal market.


Kari Santos

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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