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A clamor over the putative trend toward contract attorneys and outsourcing, but evidence from reliable data is absent

If Rand Corporation says something about data, you have to give it much due. They are careful and they understand the difference between bits and pieces of numbers and reliable data. So, attend to this caveat: “Descriptive data on the use of contract attorneys and outsourced legal talent are even scarcer than data on alternative fee arrangements,” Rand’s researchers conclude in “An Early Assessment of the Civil Justice System after the Financial Crisis” (Rand 2012) at 35.

Benchmark surveys ask about numbers of legal staff, by all means, but they include contract workers only as a cost in the internal budget. Even if they are long-term and integral to the legal department’s capabilities, those workers aren’t separately numbered.

Absent reliable data, people who proclaim a “trend” toward more temps and contract attorneys base their claims on anecdotes or on what they believe should be happening, or wish were happening.

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