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Attorneys Per Diem is sold

Attorneys Per Diem Inc., a 5-year-old Baltimore company that places more than 100 temporary lawyers, paralegals and secretaries in jobs throughout Maryland and Washington each day, was purchased yesterday by Jacksonville, Fla.-based AccuStaff Inc. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

President Derek Dewan said his Florida temporary services company wants to be the first major temporary agency to enter the growing legal market. AccuStaff also bought Lawstaf Inc., an Atlanta-based legal temporary service, yesterday.

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"This is one of fastest-growing segments" of the temporary services industry, he said, predicting that the market could eventually reach half a billion dollars a year in revenue.

Laura Black, who quit a job with the Baltimore law firm of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston in 1990 to start the local temporary agency for lawyers, said she and co-founder Mark Neumann "are very happy" with the purchase.

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She said she and Mr. Neumann had been approached by many companies in recent months interested in acquiring Attorneys Per Diem.

Although they had grown quickly on their own -- and had opened their first branch office in Washington a few months ago -- they thought they needed a backer to fund a planned expansion.

"This is the future of legal staffing," Ms. Black said. "It's the nature of litigation. You need a lot of attorneys for a big case, but you can't keep them on the payroll year round."

In addition, law firms facing cost pressures are laying off workers, creating a well-qualified pool of attorneys available for temp work. Ms. Black said her company has a database of 2,000 available lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries.

Ms. Black and Mr. Neumann will continue to run the company, and its nine-person staff will be retained. It will continue to operate as Attorneys Per Diem.

The partners chose AccuStaff because it was growing quickly, Ms. Black said, and because AccuStaff promised to fund the partners' expansion plans.

According to Mr. Dewan, yesterday's announced deals represent the beginning of AccuStaff's strategy of creating a nationwide network of temporary legal agencies. "We expect to open new offices as well as make further acquisitions," he said.

AccuStaff, which went public last year, has about $13 million in cash to fund its purchases. Mr. Dewan said the AccuStaff bought the two companies using cash and equity in the parent company.

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The company's shares rose in Nasdaq trading after the announcement, finishing yesterday at $21.125, up 62.5 cents.

AccuStaff, which has 66 offices in 20 states, earned $3 million on revenue of $137 million last year, up from a profit of $300,000 on revenue of $89.1 million in 1993.

Dan McKinley, who follows temporary service companies for J. C. Bradford & Co., said the purchase was a "great move" for AccuStaff.

Temporary service companies have already started providing temp accountants, engineers and other professionals, he said.

"And everyone talks about getting into the legal side," he said.


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