I am an attorney with over fifteen years of experience. Until 2008, I was working as in-house counsel for a publicly traded corporation. Since that position was eliminated in the second half of 2008, I have not been an FTE anywhere, although that would have been my preference, but rather worked as a full-time, on-site consultant/contractor for one large, prominent corporation in Seattle for well over two years, without any benefits. That position was ended over a year ago. So I've been unemployed for over a year, and arguably underemployed for well over three years.
It has not been a positive experience. For most of the time, my spouse (also a professional) was not working either, and our circumstances became difficult, as we also have young children. Fortunately, my spouse recently got a full-time position with good benefits, which has reduced our stress somewhat.
This experience has shown us how things work in our country when you are not a full-time employee (or close to it) somewhere: the premiums for health insurance on a non-group basis are exorbitant and the coverage is poor. Once you get a job with benefits, you then get access to much better health coverage for a small fraction of the cost, even though you now have income with which you could actually pay for premiums. It's crazy.