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It has been well reported that the number of suits actually making it to trial has dropped sharply in recent years. By some accounts, jury trials now comprise less than 2 percent of all cases filed. As such, true trial lawyers, skilled at wowing juries with crafty reasoning and dramatic delivery, have far fewer opportunities to display their talents.

Oddly enough, however, the hours and expense of preparing for trial have skyrocketed due in great part to the amount of e-mail and other electronic data now involved in discovery. This has sparked a boom in the market for contract attorneys who review documents more cost- effectively than associates (most are billed at less than half the rate of associates). Many companies now regularly expect their law firms to use contract talent in litigation. Indeed, in December 2005, The American Lawyer, an affiliate publication of the NLJ, reported that 77 percent of the 200 highest-grossing U.S. law firms use contract lawyers, and many firms report they employed more contract attorneys in 2005 than in previous years.

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