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Cheaper by the hour: temporary lawyers and the deprofessionlization of the law

By: Brooks, Robert A.
Publisher: Philadelphia Temple University Press 2012Description: xv, 216 p.ISBN: 9781439902868.Subject(s): Lawyers - Employment - United States | Temporary employment - United StatesDDC classification: 331.25729 Summary: 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, Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law and Director, Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work & Social Capital at Washington University School of Law, and co-author (with Pauline Kim and Michael Selmi) of Work Law: Cases and Materials 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 deprofessionalization of skilled labor 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 discrete components that require less skill to realize maximum profits. Moreover, he argues that information technology and efficiency demands are further stratifying the profession and creating a new underclass of lawyers who do low-end commodity work.
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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, Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law and Director, Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work & Social Capital at Washington University School of Law, and co-author (with Pauline Kim and Michael Selmi) of Work Law: Cases and Materials

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 deprofessionalization of skilled labor 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 discrete components that require less skill to realize maximum profits. Moreover, he argues that information technology and efficiency demands are further stratifying the profession and creating a new underclass of lawyers who do low-end commodity work.

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