From the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Aponte is part of a growing field of itinerant “contract” attorneys who move from job to job, getting paid by the hour, largely to review documents for law firms and corporate clients. These short-term jobs, which can pay as little as $15 an hour, have increasingly become a fixture in the $100 billion global corporate legal industry as law firms and clients seek to lower their costs.

My guess is that ten years from now, we will be able to discern a long-term trend to restructure legal services. Right now, however, it appears that this is part of the recession.

I think that restructuring like this tends to “clump” for a number of reasons. One is that more firms pay attention to costs during a recession. Another is that firms are averse to making a mistake. You are afraid to restructure, but when you see other firms doing it, that makes you less afraid.

One way to view the past few years is that the financial crisis of September 2008 sent a signal to firms that had been holding on to old, costly production methods that now would be a good time to try out newer, cheaper approaches. So we had a clustering of this sort of restructuring.

By the way, did President Obama just endorse PSST?