Cheaper by the Hour

Temporary Lawyers and the Deprofessionalization of the Law

Robert A Brooks
Book Cover

PB: $30.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0286-8
Publication: Aug 12

HC: $66.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-0285-1
Publication: Jan 11

Ebook: $30.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0287-5

234 pages
6 x 9
1 table

How attorneys' work is deprofessionalized, downgraded, and controlled through part-time and temporary assignments

Read Chapter 1 (pdf).


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 discreet 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.

Table of Contents

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 Glorifed Data Entry Person”: Struggles over Identity 7 “I Would Rather Grow in India”: The Emerging Legal Underclass Appendix A: Document Review Project Summary Appendix B: The Questionnaire Appendix C: The Attorneys References Index

About the Author(s)

Robert A. Brooks is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Criminal Justice at Worcester State University in Massachusetts.