Contract attorney; salary? is it worthwhile?

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Comments (26)

Hendl in Monterey Park, California

92 months ago

Anyone here experienced with positions as a contract attorney, meaning the attorney gets paid by the hour, no benefits, etc.?
I have just been offered a position, will be taking the CA bar exam in 2 weeks or so, and don't know what a typical salary is. $30/hour? More?
I have just relocated here, and have been practicing for about 20 years.
The job is in an area of law I do want to learn, but still hestitating. . . any advice would help! THanks.

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esquiregirl in San Diego, California

88 months ago

I know this post was a while ago -- did you ever get an answer? Did you already take the bar? What area of law is it? I was a contract attorney for the first couple of years out of law school and it definitely has its pros and cons. Just make sure if they're paying you as an IC that you truly are an IC, otherwise you're selling yourself short. For instance if they are setting your hours, requiring you to work in their office, etc., then you ARE an employee and they just don't want to pay you benefits. One of the benefits of being an IC is the flexibility. I think $30/hour is way too low for someone with your experience.

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Hendl in Los Angeles, California

87 months ago

THanks so much! I thought $30/hour was too low, as well.

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Anon in Washington, District of Columbia

84 months ago

I don't know the going rate in CA, and I'm sure you've long since started your job. Contract work is very dangerous. If you do it for even as much as 6 months, you can ruin career prospects, as it isn't viewed by attorneys very well. If you do it for a short period, it probably won't harm you much, but if you did it for a year, you can kiss a legal career goodbye if you limited or no experience elsewhere, unless you work for a tiny firm or start up your own shop. In DC, you can get between 30-40 an hour, plus overtime, sometimes the hours can be insane, like 80 hours a week. No benefits, it's mindless, here all you do is document review, and depending on the firm, you can be treated very poorly. I was on an assignment once where you basically weren't allowed to leave your seat unless you went to the bathroom. You ate when they told you you could eat. I've been on some that they treated you with dignity and even gave you an office, but either way, you only do mindless work that harms career prospects.

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esquiregirl in San Diego, California

83 months ago

I had a much more positive experience as an IC and my friends have as well. I'm with a firm know and make good money, however a friend of mine works 5 hours a day as a contract attorney and makes as much as I make in my 10+ hour day. True she doesn't get benefits, but she also doesn't have law firm b.s.! There's a website that isn't launched yet, but it's going to be a great resource for ICs. www.lawwages.com

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Lucky Stoller in Colorado Springs, Colorado

83 months ago

I am coming out of retirement and don't know where to begin. Does anyone know of a legal recruiter in Colorado Springs? I'm licensed to practice in California so I can work in Bankruptcy Court here or administrative courts such as Social Security. My experience has been in litigation and mediation.

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Aaron Leviine in Arlington Heights, Illinois

79 months ago

I have had several contract assignments and they are good income providers as well as opportunities to learn additional industries and obtain a better understanding of how corp. law departments work. Anyone with 5 years experience or more should not take less than $40 an hour unless it is pure document review.

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Miss B in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

78 months ago

How does malpractice insurance work with a contract position. Do you carry your own or do you not sign off on anything?

I have strongly considered doing contract work for the simple reason of having flexibility. I have two young children and it seems that so many firms or government employers aren't open to reduced hours (i.e. 30 hours per week) so I thought maybe a contract position would be the way to go.

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hendl@sbcglobal.net in Los Angeles, California

78 months ago

Miss B in Baton Rouge, Louisiana said: How does malpractice insurance work with a contract position. Do you carry your own or do you not sign off on anything?

I have strongly considered doing contract work for the simple reason of having flexibility. I have two young children and it seems that so many firms or government employers aren't open to reduced hours (i.e. 30 hours per week) so I thought maybe a contract position would be the way to go.

The contract work I have done so far has been technically as an 'employee', so that the employer was the one who had malpractice insurance, etc.
However, there are legal malpractice carriers who will sell you insurance for a 'part-time' practice. Look into those.

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a contract attorney in Long Beach, California

68 months ago

Actually, I've contracted for awhile, and usually, if I was having any client contact with the firm or solo's clients, or if i was signing the pleadings i wrote, i woudl make sure somehwere there was insurance coverage...in all cases, the law firm would carry the coverage and their insurance woudl apply to me as well, even as an IC attorney.

I had an unusual situation with a fellow who didn't carry his own insurance, and wanted me to contract with him, but didn't have any insurance to cover me either.

I figured, here he is wanting me to deal with his clients, sign the pleadings, appear in court, all under my name, which is fine, but then why pay me a measly $50 an hour when you expect me to carry my own insurance coverage. It didn't make sense to me. Bottom line he was comfortable practicing without insurance and i'm not sure how i feel about it...so I told him I'm not sure, and we left it at that.

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lawyerhood in Frisco, Texas

62 months ago

Notice the dates of the prior replies - most over a year ago. The market has since depressed the hourly rates - what paid $30-$40 a year ago in Dallas or Houston is now $20-$25 an hour. I have seen postings on the East Coast for under $20 an hour. Many of the lawyers taking these jobs are, like me, recently unemployed with more than two decades' experience.

I can't comment yet on whether there is still a stigma. I would think that an employer would rather see periods of legal temp jobs (doc review, etc.) than uninterrupted unemployment. I am hoping to "spin" the strengths of these jobs (e.g., strong work ethic, endurance, focus on task, etc.) but we'll see if that works. I have seen only one job posting in the last 6 months that blatantly said that document review experience was disdained.

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jack111 in Falls Church, Virginia

58 months ago

I've worked as a contract attorney for some corporations in the DC area. My rates were $80, $110, $110, and $94 (I have 25 years' experience in tech transactions and generalist skills).

It was very good work and my gigs lasted from 2 months to 14 months each. The folks were generally nice, but at one company, they did make the "temps" feel like second class citizens. In another case, I was treated extremely well.

One problem is that if a legal department is instructed to cut costs, you can be let go on short notice. That happened once. Overall, I like it. I get to work in the corporate environment, at good rates (if working 40 hours) and without the politics. Need to remember to file your quarterly tax payments.

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GlorifiedTemp in Chicago, Illinois

58 months ago

$30 / hr for an unlicensed attorney is a dream. Try in the teens. I'm a licensed attorney making $17 / hr pre-tax with no health insurance at a contract position. And it's not just doc review, it's substantive work.

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lawgrl99 in Long Beach, California

56 months ago

GlorifiedTemp in Chicago, Illinois said: $30 / hr for an unlicensed attorney is a dream. Try in the teens. I'm a licensed attorney making $17 / hr pre-tax with no health insurance at a contract position. And it's not just doc review, it's substantive work.

$17/hr and you are licensed??? Why would you sell yourself so short?

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vicarylaw in Miami, Florida

52 months ago

Are there any solos out there who have also done contract work on the side? When times are slow I imagine that it would be a great supplement to the bottom line.

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Anon in Boulder, Colorado

51 months ago

I'm also licensed and am getting $15/hr, no benefits, part time, no bonuses. It is not that Glorified Temp is selling him or herself short, its that there is nothing else out there. After over 150 resumes and applications, I couldn't even get hired in retail or as a waitress.

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Anon in Billings, Montana

50 months ago

I'm shocked at the replies so far. I practiced for only 3.5 years in private litigation defense firm, but left and have been doing IC work in Billings for about four months now. I am being paid $65/hour primarily for research and a bit of brief writing. No court appearances or any other activities of a normal atty. No one has batted an eyelash about it, which is surprising since the highest wages in private firms for full time employees in MT with the same experience as me are a mere $60K, with the average in the low 40's. Interesting. Definitely shouldn't sell yourself short at anything less than $50!

I also have no insurance, but am looking into it just to be safe. It couldn't hurt.

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NewlyGrad in Tucson, Arizona

41 months ago

I'm about to graduate in Tucson, Arizona. I am also going to be a first time mom. My husband and I may be leaving town within a year, so I would like to look for contract work or a more flexible close-to-full-time job. Husband has a job here with medical benefits so we really can't leave Tucson. Any suggestions? What is the market looking like? I will be taking the bar in July.

Also, how does one go about looking for contract work straight out of law school? I have been working with a small firm for over a year as a law clerk, but may have to be let go due to budget cut.

I appreciate any help! Thanks!!

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actually in san diego, ca in Fontana, California

32 months ago

Anon in Boulder, Colorado said: I'm also licensed and am getting $15/hr, no benefits, part time, no bonuses. It is not that Glorified Temp is selling him or herself short, its that there is nothing else out there. After over 150 resumes and applications, I couldn't even get hired in retail or as a waitress.

I am in California with 10 years of practice and I do contract work for $25.00 to $50.00 per hour. It is ridiculous that licensed attorneys who have $150,000.00 or more in student loan debt have to work so cheap.
That said, the $25.00 per hour (which is more usual than the $50.00) takes a big dump once your taxes are paid and you pay for your overhead. You really end up working for around $13.00 per hour with no benefits. People with no schooling or professional degree make more. Take real estate agents for example. And they actually enjoy their lives.
I have sent out probably 1,000 resumes. I glow on paper and present well.

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actually in san diego, ca in Fontana, California

32 months ago

Anon in Boulder, Colorado said: I'm also licensed and am getting $15/hr, no benefits, part time, no bonuses. It is not that Glorified Temp is selling him or herself short, its that there is nothing else out there. After over 150 resumes and applications, I couldn't even get hired in retail or as a waitress.

I am in California with 10 years of practice and I do contract work for $25.00 to $50.00 per hour. It is ridiculous that licensed attorneys who have $150,000.00 or more in student loan debt have to work so cheap.
That said, the $25.00 per hour (which is more usual than the $50.00) takes a big dump once your taxes are paid and you pay for your overhead. You really end up working for around $13.00 per hour with no benefits. People with no schooling or professional degree make more. Take real estate agents for example. And they actually enjoy their lives.
I have sent out probably 1,000 resumes. I glow on paper and present well.

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Sarasota lawyer in Sarasota, United States minor outlying islands

28 months ago

Hi, I am a lawyer who handled lots of cases related to crime, child abuse etc.. I handled all type of cases and being very successful in this profesion.

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Dovid's Friend in Hadera, Israel

27 months ago

I am in need of information. Hopefully, someone can help. W

What is the current rate for a contract attorney for the following work:

Document Review

Legal Research & Writing

Appellate Brief

Drafting Complaints

I understand that there will be regional differences. Please provide the range.

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rscott@lawyer4u.com in Wilmington, Delaware

26 months ago

NewlyGrad in Tucson, Arizona said: I'm about to graduate in Tucson, Arizona. I am also going to be a first time mom. My husband and I may be leaving town within a year, so I would like to look for contract work or a more flexible close-to-full-time job. Husband has a job here with medical benefits so we really can't leave Tucson. Any suggestions? What is the market looking like? I will be taking the bar in July.

Also, how does one go about looking for contract work straight out of law school? I have been working with a small firm for over a year as a law clerk , but may have to be let go due to budget cut.

I appreciate any help! Thanks!!

Everglades City Employment Law Attorney

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rscott@lawyer4u.com in Wilmington, Delaware

26 months ago

Everglades City Employment Law Attorney is needed urgently...all interested person should

1. Interested Persons must be able to work 24 hour on-call emergency service
2. you must be able accept cases that require IMMEDIATE ACTION (domestic violence, injuction hearing, emergency custody hearings, DCF/dependency emergency shelter hearings, etc).
3. you must be able to accommodate our clients, and gladly visit injured clients in their home or at the hospital.
4. also you must be willing to handle our Web conferencing
5. you must be able to handle cases outside of Florida and the U.S. Please feel free to contact us via email, phone or fax.

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rscott@lawyer4u.com in Wilmington, Delaware

26 months ago

Everglades City Employment Law Attorney is needed urgently...all interested person should

1. Interested Persons must be able to work 24 hour on-call emergency service
2. you must be able accept cases that require IMMEDIATE ACTION (domestic violence, injuction hearing, emergency custody hearings, DCF/dependency emergency shelter hearings, etc).
3. you must be able to accommodate our clients, and gladly visit injured clients in their home or at the hospital.
4. also you must be willing to handle our Web conferencing
5. you must be able to handle cases outside of Florida and the U.S. Please feel free to contact us via email, phone or fax.

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student in Muncie, Indiana

26 months ago

How did you become a contract lawyer and where did you get your degree from? I have been doing research, and I find myself very interested in this field.

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