Contract Lawyers for In House Counsel? Sounds Like a Win-Win

By William Peacock, Esq. on March 19, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Disrupting the industry. Reinventing the practice of law. Fixing the broken model. If those phrases have just caused a profuse amount of bile to rise in your esophagus, you are not alone. Clichés are bad enough, but when we've been talking about fixing the "broken" system since 2009 and that system remains the same, it really does become nauseating to hear again.

Imagine our thoughts when we heard that Paragon Legal could be the new model for corporate or in house counsel. Oh boy, a reinvention of the broken system!

Except, it actually does seem pretty well executed.

There are two problems with a traditional law firm or in house arrangement. Many lawyers don't want to work 100 hour weeks, especially those with kids. Also, many companies don't want to hire full time counsel.

Lawyers are expensive. Experienced corporate counsel are even more expensive. For small start-ups, or even slightly over-burdened legal departments of larger companies, hiring a full-timer might be out of the budget.

Paragon Legal might best be described as contract counsel for in house positions. Of course, calling them that is like saying that Jamie Oliver is a cook and Johnnie Cochran was a lawyer. It may be accurate, but it understates things a bit.

The lawyers staffed by Paragon all have eight or more years of experience, plus time as in house counsel, before they are considered for a position with the company. These aren't recent grads on Craigslist trying to eke out a bit of doc review work; these are actual experienced in house attorneys looking for short-term or reduced-hour work.

Paragon founder Mae O'Malley did what any brilliant entrepreneur would do: recognize a market need or inefficiency and fill it. She was laid off from an in house job during the last tech bubble burst. That company offered contract work, which she accepted, and the rest was history, reports the ABA Journal. She saw the benefits to herself, as a working mother, and to the company. Realized the potential benefit to similarly-situated lawyers and companies, O'Malley created a staffing agency to fill the void.

We won't label her a disrupter or reinventor - but Paragon Legal is pretty neat regardless.

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