Contract Attorney vs. In-house Attorney

Ryan Frank
December 13, 2011 — 1,034 views  

The number of contract attorneys working in the legal industry has increased in the past decade.
As job openings for in-house attorneys decrease, many new lawyers find themselves practicing their profession as contract attorneys. This growing sector of the legal industry has become the backbone of many law firms today. Firms benefit from hiring contract attorneys because it offers them increased flexibility and the ability to expand their business with a smaller budget.

What Do Contract Attorneys Do?
A contract attorney performs tasks like drafting legal briefings, reviewing case files and conducting case research. They do not usually partake in court room procedures and they don’t really meet with actual clients; that job is done by in-house lawyers. Contract lawyers play more of a back-up role. Firms hire them when they are involved in a large case requiring extra work and man-hours to put together. One exception to this is when contract lawyers are hired as dense counsels in counties where there is no public defender available for criminal defense cases.

Work Schedule
Contract attorneys are hired per case. They are temporary employees whose job is done when the case is completed. Contract attorneys can still earn quite a bit of money, though. Those who have been in the field long enough usually develop close relationships with different firms that in turn provide these contract attorneys with regular case work.

Advantages for Firms
Using contract attorneys for their cases allows law firms, especially small firms that are looking to grow, to expand and tackle bigger cases without having to hire full-time, salaried employees. Firms with limited funds can thus gain not just a bigger workforce but one that is flexible. Legally, firms can also add a surcharge to the fees of their contract lawyers, as long as the charge is reasonable for the client.

Contract Attorney Agencies
Contract law attorney agencies have been growing in recent years, in accordance to the increased prominence of contract attorneys and their role in many of today’s law firms. These agencies act as middle men, brokering jobs for their contract attorneys for a fee or percentage. Some firms like to work through agencies because they are guaranteed s certain level of professionalism.

 

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Ryan Frank