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Cheaper by the Hour: Temporary Lawyers and the Deprofessionalization of the Law

  • Hardcover
How attorneys' work is deprofessionalized, downgraded, and controlled through part-time and temporary assignments.
Cheaper by the Hour: Temporary Lawyers and the Deprofessionalization of the Law
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Recent law school graduates often work as temporary attorneys, but law firm layoffs and downsizing have strengthened the temporary attorney industry. Cheaper by the Hour is the first book-length account of these workers. Drawing from participant observation and interviews, Robert A. Brooks provides a richly detailed ethnographic account of freelance attorneys in Washington, DC. He places their document review work in the larger context of the de-professionalization of skilled labour and considers how professionals relegated to temporary jobs feel diminished, degraded, or demeaned by work that is often tedious, repetitive, and well beneath their abilities. Brooks documents how firms break a lawyer's work into discreet components that require less skill to realize maximum profits. Moreover, he argues that information technology and efficiency demands
Janet Stringer, MD - Baylor College of Medicine, Jewish Institute for Medical Research
Preface 1: Degraded and Insecure: The "New" Workforce; 2: "Basically Interchangeable": The Creation of the Temporary Lawyer; 3: Life on the Concourse Level: Doing Document Review; 4: Box Shopping in "Nike Town": Struggles over Work; 5: "Keeping Count of Every Freakin' Minute": Struggles over Time; 6: "A Glorified Date Entry Person": Struggles over Identity; 7: "I would rather grow in India": The Emerging Legal Underclass Appendix A: Table 1. Document Review Project Summary; Appendix B: The Questionnaire; Appendix C: The Attorneys References; Notes
"Brooks's account is timely...A key that he brings to life the work lives of temporary lawyers doing document review... Cheaper by the Hour provides a window into the world of temporary lawyers. [T]his book raises a series of questions on how outsourcing by law firms and other professional service firms can be better managed and made more satisfying for those individuals who are the human side of outsourcing." Human Resource Management "Cheaper by the Hour is a very timely book, well-organized and penned in an engaging style. The critical perspective that Brooks brings to bear on the industry is sorely missing in the very limited literature on temporary attorneys. The use of an ethnographic research methodology and the book's style and tone made the book in many ways reminiscent of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, which proved to have both powerful academic force and popular appeal." Marion Crain, author (with Pauline Kim and Michael Selmi) of Work Law: Cases and Materials "Brooks offers us an uncommon examination of professional work from the inside... [T]he book is engaging to read, makes good use of the data, and raises important questions about the future directions of professional work. The book should be of significant interest to anyone studying the changing nature of work, and certainly to anyone considering a law career." The American Journal of Sociology "[A]n illuminating and sobering look at the law's version of the temporary employment industry... Cheaper by the Hour should prove instructive for anyone concerned about the short- or long-term future of the U.S. legal profession, and the title is recommended for all libraries that serve law firms or law schools. The book may also provide a sharp but valuable dose of reality for undergraduate students considering legal education and the debt load that it can entail." Law Library Journal, Vol. 103, No. 4 "The strength of this book is the author's participation in the settings he describes... As one of a number of studies of workers in nonstandard work arrangements, this book adds to accumulating evidence pointing to a need for new policies and practices to address the various segments of a sizable 'contingent' workforce. Placed in this context, this study should further inform both analysts and advocates for change." Work and Occupations, February 2012 "[A] sobering examination of the legal profession... Brooks paints a chilling portrait of the ways in which [document review] becomes dehumanizing for the attorneys... Cheaper by the Hour does an admirable job of revealing the stratification within law firms and within the legal profession...Brooks' use of participant observation and interviewing offers a compelling ethnographic study of the work experiences of temporary attorneys." Contemporary Sociology, May 2012
Robert A. Brooks
Short Title
Temple University Press
Temple University Press,U.S.
Temporary Lawyers and the Deprofessionalization of the Law
Place of Publication
Philadelphia PA
Country of Publication
United States
1 table
Publication Date

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