Month: November 2017

New Agency Connects Lawyers With Employers In An Over saturated Market

Pittsburgh is second only to Washington, D.C. in the number of lawyers populating the metropolitan area. And, in a town where the bar association boasts 7,200 members, many barristers’ resumes, even those overflowing with glowing credentials, may go unread by the people who matter most.

A new company called Legal Network is attempting to ease the burden of the legal job search by linking attorneys with firms on a part-time or contractual basis that could lead to full-time work.

Formed in 1995 by attorneys Brad Franc and Karl Schieneman, the company has compiled a database of 300 lawyers spanning 2,500 legal disciplines.

The company hopes to latch on to the corporate trend toward “outsourcing” – in which companies hire outside contractors to perform duties from accounting to photocopying.

There is no fee to have a resume placed in the Legal Network database, but attorneys must go through a screening process to ensure their credentials are legitimate and that no disciplinary actions have been taken against them.

Mathew McGuire, a 35-year old attorney was in the database three months before finding work with a small firm Downtown. Mr. McGuire holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh as well as an engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University. He obtained his law degree from Duquesne University.

He thought his education would put him ahead of the competition but the offers didn’t come as fast as he anticipated.

“I thought that when I finished with law school there would be some demand, but there wasn’t the demand I was expecting,” he said. His arrangement with Legal Network gives the prospective firm and the new lawyer a chance to see if a long-term commitment is something they both want.

“They have me come in for three weeks on a temporary basis and if they like the things I can do, they may make a full-time offer,” he said.

“It gives them the chance to see what I can do, and gives me the chance to see if I like working for them.”

The market has become so crowded that Mr. Franc says lawyers are willing to work as paralegals just to ensure income.

The majority of lawyers in Legal Network’s database are seasoned veterans.

An average attorney in the database, according to Mr. Franc has 10 to 30 years legal experience. He said the network suits attorneys who don’t have the expertise or funds to market themselves and those solo practitioners who don’t have enough work to sustain their business.

At least 15 other cities have similar organizations that offer placements for legal secretaries and paralegals. Legal Network, however, is devoted exclusively to attorneys.

The company makes money from the hourly rates charged for the attorney’s time. For instance, if the attorneys bill the network for their time at the rate of $25 an hour; the network might bill clients $35 an hour, and the matchmaking firm keeps the difference.

“We try to place 12 to 15 attorneys at any point in time,” Mr. Franc said. The founders believe this payment principle, which they borrowed from the temporary employment field will yield dividends for their company.

We are cautiously optimistic about our success,” said Mr. Franc. But he is also realistic in his expectations. “We are not going to get fabulously wealthy from this overnight.”

Temps vs. Tradition

Can a firm survive- even prosper -with constant turnover of its legal staff?

One Houston firm, Glidden Partners, is betting yes. They have opted to rely on contract attorneys even in major corporate litigation.

So far, the strategy has worked. Successful in extricating a Fortune 500 client from a class-action lawsuit over Texas natural-gas contracts, the firm used temps to do research, review and code documents.

Had first-year associates done that work, Glidden could have charged around $ 100 an hour. Instead, they billed the client $30 an hour, including a 15 percent markup for the firm. The company saved at least $1 million.

Is this any way to run a law firm?

The Glidden gambit is based on demand for lower cost litigation and a nationwide glut in the temporary attorney marketplace. Borrowing the concept of just-in-time inventory from industry, the firm hires only the attorneys it needs for the work at hand.

The contract attorneys do various tasks but don’t appear in court. So busy are they that there’s no need to overwork a file, clients note approvingly.

Keeping tabs on costs

Clients also benefit from Glidden’s informative cost accounting. The firm utilizes computer software that allows clients to monitor their bills, even down to the level of how much portions of a matter, such as a deposition or hearing, will cost. The firm further offers alternative billing–hourly, net fee and contingency–to meet client needs.

Contract Lawyers, Confidentiality and Conflicts of Interest

Both contract lawyers and hiring lawyers need to protect client confidences. If you are a hiring lawyer, ensure that contract lawyers:

  • have access only to information necessary to complete assigned projects.
  • are barred from areas where files are kept.
  • do not overhear conversations about unrelated cases.
  • do not view computer screens with confidential information.
  • have no access to discarded case materials.
  • do not remove files from the premises.

Contract lawyers should be prepared to:

  • make certain an office contains files only for the cases they are handling. (Ask for extraneous files to be removed, if necessary.)
  • include the engagement letter an assurance of the responsibility to preserve client confidences.

Avoiding conflicts of interest

Lawyers and law firms using contract lawyers should keep records of the client matter upon which each contract lawyer has worked. Before discussing an assignment, the contract lawyer should be told the names of clients, opposing party or parties, and opposing counsel. Contract lawyers should:

  • keep a record of clients served and the matters or cases.
  • ask potential hiring lawyers for the names of the client and all opposing parties and potential parties before accepting an assignment. For grounding in ethical issues surrounding contract lawyers.

Finding a Job: Registering

Enrolling with Legal Network is simple. Please e-mail a copy of your resume saved in a Microsoft Word format. If e-mail is not easily available, then you can fax a copy of your resume to (412) 201-7475 and mail a diskette with your resume to Legal Network, 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1830, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. The resume must be received by us in an eletronic form (email or computer diskette) to give you the best opportunity for being placed and utilize our cutting edge technology.

We will follow up with you and arrange an interview before you are submitted for any positions. Your resume will not be used until we have met with you and we will not submit a resume for any position until we have spoken with you first.