June 15, 2011 By VANESSA O’CONNELL
When he decided to become a lawyer, Jose Aponte followed a familiar path: He took the LSAT, spent more than $100,000 on law school, took a grueling bar exam and paid for continuing education.
But the work the 37-year-old New York lawyer, a graduate of American University’s Washington College of Law, is getting is a far cry from the stable, lucrative type he originally envisioned.
The grunt work in corporate litigation is being farmed out to contract attorneys. More and more law school graduates, steeped in student-loan debt, are settling for this unsteady, monotonous work for surprisingly low pay. WSJ’s Vanessa O’Connell and Jason Bellini report.
Mr. Aponte is part of a growing field of itinerant “contract” attorneys who move from job to job, getting paid by the hour, largely to review documents for law firms and corporate clients. These short-term jobs, which can pay as little as $15 an hour, have increasingly become a fixture in the $100 billion global corporate legal industry as law firms and clients seek to lower their costs.
This new “third tier” of the legal world illustrates the commoditization of the legal profession, which once offered most new entrants access to prestige and power, as well as a professional lifestyle. It also shows how post-recession belt-tightening is permanently altering some professions….
Please tell me why is this article JUST NOW being published. It’s so ‘johnny come lately” that it’s journalistic satire. Lawyers haven’t settle into contract work–they have been pushed into contract work by TTT and TTTT schools, false statistics, an economic bubble, lost jobs and oversaturation in the legal industry and let’s not forget outsourcing. The title alone makes it appear that an attorney is CHOOSING to be a temp lawyer when the reality is that many do it because they I don’t know would like to eat the next day. Any time an economy have partners and associates losing their jobs in the private sector and firms merger with others in Europe to decrease costs and relying on LPOs as their new business model the over-the-top educated ones in debt will suffer.
Interesting how the author uses the word “commoditization” you know a sophisticated manner of referring to the legal industry as McLaw or its attorneys ummm “slaves” or “working poor.”
The title is a mockery to those who have worked hard and constantly applied for jobs in their field and level of experience. Then again, maybe lawyers have settled…settled into knowing that their industry and their lives as they believe it would be will never exist or be the same again. It’s a conventional and practical way of thinking for many. To avoid disappointment, become accustomed to depression and being in debt and knowing that your life has been financially ruined though you will be held to a higher standard than any lay person. At a brink where we should be screaming at the top of our lungs are voices have turned to a faint shriek because no one cares. It’s a joke. The only sanity you can really hold on to is regardless of your professors they may have sabatoged you (not all just most), the economy and the corporate greed, you did your best but it’s game that you have likely already lost; but most people do not make a conscious choice to lose. They just didn’t know the game was rigged from the beginning.