Fresh out of graduate school in 1992 with a dual degree in law and business administration, Karl Schieneman figured he could write his professional ticket.
But it didn’t work out that way, despite his master’s from Carnegie-Mellon University’s prestigious Graduate School of Industrial Administration and his Law Review credentials at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law.
Schieneman wanted to stay in Pittsburgh because his wife, Olga, established in a career here, but contends that he couldn’t even land an interview at a local law firm because of a saturation of lawyers in the market.
So he took a job at accounting firm Price Waterhouse for 13 months before he got his foot in the door at Marcus & Shapira, a Downtown law firm that hired him on a contract basis to work on the huge Phar-Mor financial scandal.
The firm eventually offered Schieneman a full-time position – which he accepted – but the experience of working as a temporary planted the seed for the business he would help launch in 1995: Legal Network Ltd., a placement service for temporary and contract lawyers.
Since last year, Schieneman, 34, has been running Legal Network as its managing director.
The company has about 50 attorneys placed under contract and counts a database of 2,000 lawyers and 500 paralegals it can tap for assignments.
Clients that use temporary legal professionals are generally law firms that need help on big projects or during peak business times; and corporations that want to outsource legal work or give an attorney a tryout period before making a full-time offer, Schieneman said.
Among its corporate clients are Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp., Armco, Allegheny Power and General Nutrition Companies Inc.
Legal Network charges clients between $20 and $100 per hour for its attorneys depending on the length of the project, the attorney’s expertise and other factors that vary from case to case, according to pricing information on its Web site.
For paralegals, it charges $12 to $35 per hour.
Legal Network keeps a cut of the fee clients pay, but Schieneman declined to disclose the percentage.
He expects total revenues this year to reach between $1.5 million and $2 million. Besides placement fees for legal help, future growth may come from adding placement services for professionals in health or engineering fields, Schieneman said.
It’s also considering opening satellite offices and perhaps merging with other firms.
Legal Network has already made one strategic acquisition this year. In August, it bought the Pittsburgh operations of Oxford Legal Associates, a Philadelphia placement firm, in a deal that added several hundred professionals to
Legal Network’s database.
Schieneman drafted the business plan for the company while working at Marcus & Shapira because he saw a niche for a business that would “provide a way for lawyers to break into a tough market,” Schieneman said.
The other founders, who also hold a stake in the business, are Pittsburgh attorney Brad Franc, and Lawrence
Kolarik, a computer specialist who works for Automatic Data Processing.
Originally based on Babcock Boulevard in Ross, Legal Network in April relocated to the Regional Enterprise
Tower, Downtown, (the former Alcoa Building) “to be close to the legal community,” Schieneman said. It employs three full-timers
Schieneman considers his job to be an ideal mix of his business and legal backgrounds and contends that he doesn’t miss practicing law because he’s exposed to so many legal trends and issues through placement assignments.
Although he grew up in Englewood, NJ – where he attend his high school prom with future Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino – Schieneman has made Pittsburgh his adopted home.
The Hampton resident and father of two coaches his daughters’ soccer team and recently joined Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP), an organization of young Pittsburgh professionals that he sees as a critical force in growing the city’s business community.
Schieneman credits Olga, his wife, a sales information manager for Kraft Foods, Inc., with extreme patience and support as he shifted from accounting to law and finally, to running his own business. “She stood by me . . . and I’ve always had macaroni and cheese to fall back on,” he quipped.