Use of contract attorneys & paralegals on the rise

And it’s all about discovery documents:

"The costs of document discovery are expected to rise by almost $3 billion by 2007, according to a recent article in The National Law Journal.

"An increasing number of law firms are turning to contract attorneys and paralegals to review, code, index and summarize discovery documents. Many of the nation’s 250 largest firms reported hiring significantly more contract attorneys in 2005 than in the previous year. Firms are realizing that utilizing contract attorneys allows them to gear up for document-intensive cases, and then cut back when work thins out.

"The use of contract attorneys is a solution that makes sense in today’s economic climate. There is enormous potential for cost savings with contract attorneys [and paralegals] because of the higher margins and lower costs associated with them. Alternatively, the use of permanent associates involves higher pay rates and all related employment expenses, like workers’ compensation, FICA, unemployment, benefits and insurance. With project attorneys, the hourly cost is far smaller — typically $50 to $100 per hour — and the legal staffing firm is the actual employer, so they bear the employment costs."