When your business needs to hire top legal talent, you may not necessarily think to utilize a legal consultant. However, many preconceived notions of hiring contract attorneys aren’t true. There are many situations where hiring a temp staffing strategy is worth it. “If you’ve never dealt with contract attorneys before, the concept may sound a bit foreign to you,” says Melissa Pelcovitz, a Director at Tandym Pro, specializing in legal recruitment. “However, you’d be surprised how many law firms and businesses rely on this strategy! Contract attorneys can be extremely useful in a number of different scenarios.” Contract attorneys may offer very unique skillsets and be highly specialized in their area of expertise. Let’s break down some commonly asked questions about hiring contract attorneys:
How can I trust that a contract attorney won’t divulge confidential information?
Having trust in your staff—whether they’re a long-term colleague or a contract hire—is paramount in any workplace. An employee working for a set period of time is no less trustworthy than an employee who works full-time. Hiring a legal consultant does not mean they are going to share the details of their previous assignment in their next role. They realize the importance of confidentiality while applying their extensive expertise. Additionally, they understand what making a good impression looks like, and that it is certainly not divulging the details of a former case.
“To better ensure trust, our recruitment firm may issue an NDA and other confidentiality forms to be signed by our legal consultants,” explains Melissa. “You may also have legal consultants sign your own confidentiality documents as well.”
Why would we ever consider contract attorneys over direct hire, anyway?
Similar to how companies hire law firms to carry out work on special assignments, trials, and other limited-time projects, so too should law firms and departments entrust lawyers to carry out assignments on a part-time or contractual basis. Contract attorneys will likely be skilled in managing their time efficiently, as well.
“From an industry perspective, we’ve seen several leading law firms hire contract attorneys to fill the gaps in their workforce and complete projects in a timely fashion,” says Melissa. Sometimes hiring a legal consultant is the obvious choice. In circumstances where one of your full-time lawyers resigns abruptly, goes out on parental leave, has a personal matter to attend do, or is simply out of commission, a contract lawyer is a great solution to getting the work done.
Why would I bring on more staff when I already utilize my existing staff to cover for leaves of absence or increases in case loads?
One way to respond to an increased demand in work is to split it amongst other lawyers or paralegals in the firm, but they’d likely argue that their plates are quite full as it is. Don’t risk overburdening your other full-time staff—keep everything running smoothly by hiring a contract lawyer. Employee burnout and turnover should be areas of real concern. To avoid other employees from leaving you in a lurch, the extra hands are critical to your overall hiring and retention.
Why would any experienced lawyer choose to work on a temporary basis?
An added bonus of hiring a legal consultant is benefitting from the expertise they have to offer from working on an assortment of cases and projects. Many legal consultants thrive on variety, and they view working with different firms as a way to expand their portfolio and experience. “Not only have contract attorneys worked in a variety of settings, but many are also highly specialized in their area of expertise,” explains Melissa. “With this hiring strategy, you can actually gain valuable skillsets, especially when you need it.”
What if the contract attorney turns out to be a good fit? Can we convert them to a full-time employee?
The great thing about contract attorneys is that their assignment can be seen as a “trial period” in demonstrating their work ethic and skillset to an employer. While working for your firm, you may find that your temporary hire becomes an asset to your team and that there is a full-time opportunity for them after all. The contract attorney may really enjoy the cultural fit and wish to stay on permanently, if offered the role. This, along with many other benefits, should be considered in a contract-to-hire strategy.
Regardless of your needs, considering contract attorneys as part of your hiring strategy allows you to be more flexible and agile as a business. While full-time employees may initially give you more peace of mind in keeping information under wraps, contract attorneys can too, and could be the best answer to any immediate struggles you are facing in your staffing.