Mary Quillin, a contract attorney based in Pasadena, has long since gotten over the fear she once had about telling other lawyers how she makes a living without “a real job.” Not that she wants any more competition. There’s too much of that already, she says.

But Quillin, who has been working as a contract attorney since 1987, has learned that few lawyers who give it a try last very long in the business. “What I’ve found is that 95 percent of them couldn’t handle the uncertainty or didn’t want to do the marketing that is necessary,” she says. “Within three to six months they were gone. A lot of them were looking for a more stable environment.”