Karl Schieneman

Karl Schieneman tells potential clients to think of his legal staffing firm as India for legal services.

He’s only half joking. Lawyers provided by his company, Legal Network Ltd., work primarily out of Pittsburgh and Cleveland, markets where fees charged by law firms are substantially lower than those charged by firms in bigger markets. Thus, according to Schieneman, his typical client enjoys costs 26 percent to 40 percent lower than big city firms would charge.

Schieneman’s legal staffing company has more than 200 lawyers in its stable of legal talent, all carefully screened to make sure that not only their technical skills match their clients’ needs but that they provide a good fit with the host company or law firm’s culture.

“If you’re a student of staffing, what you realize is that most placements have nothing to do with technical background and everything to do with organizational fit, cultural fit,” says Schieneman.

Legal Network’s model appears to be working. In 2003, “a good scrapbook year,” as Schieneman describes it, the company was listed on the Inc. 500 and earned a “People Do Matter” award. Schieneman earned finalist status in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year competition last year. Schieneman says he’s confident that the company will make the Inc. 500 again this year, which would be the third time the company earned the prestigious honor.

The model has worked so well that Legal Network is mulling the possibility of applying it to other professions.

Says Schieneman: “There’s a pretty decent possibility that we’ll end up with some other services outside of legal within the coming year.” How to reach: Legal Network Ltd., www.legalnetworkltd.com