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Use of contract attorneys on the rise

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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 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.

A legal staffing firm that is highly experienced in staffing major litigation projects can provide the advice and resources necessary to strategically staff any size project.

Some key points to consider when planning for project staff:

* Determining the number of contract attorneys to be hired, and the necessary experience levels, is the first step to ensuring success with contract attorneys. It's important to find the right mix of attorneys and to determine what level of attorney should perform what type of task. There must be sufficient guidance and supervision of contract attorneys, and the project must be adequately staffed based on the size of the case.

* Most of today's document review is driven by e-discovery. Your staffing firms' contractors and other litigation support professionals should be skilled in the latest document-review software programs such as Concordance, Summation, Caselink and I-connect.

* Another factor to consider when planning for a project is whether your firm has the physical capacity to accommodate the necessary number of contractors. Your staffing firm should have the capacity to provide off-site workspace as well as computer equipment to get your project up and running quickly.

With discovery costs on the rise, contract attorneys provide a solution that makes sense now more than ever. By selecting a staffing firm that understands the complex demands of large-scale litigation, firms and in-house legal departments can not only successfully manage those costs, but turn the discovery process into a revenue source. Davidson Attorneys, a division of Davidson Legal Staffing, a California legal staffing specialist with more than 19 years of experience, is ready to provide experienced contract attorneys and other litigation support professionals along with the guidance you need to strategically staff your next project. We can also secure on-demand space specific to your project's requirements regardless of duration, size or special accommodations.

Call us with questions or to request a consultation at (619) 446-5690, or visit us on the Web at www.davidsonstaffing.com.


Belice is a strategic staffing consultant with Davidson Attorneys.

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