Five Benefits to Hiring a Contract Attorney for Your Firm

Posted by: drosenfeld on May 13, 2014

Like any other company, a law firm relies on making a profit in order to stay in business for the long- term.  Hiring a permanent staff member to take on fluctuating volumes of client work can erode a firm’s profitability through the payment of salary and benefits to full time employees.  While having a stable workforce in place can be beneficial, much of the project driven nature of legal work can lend itself to contingent teams of contract or temporary attorneys saving valuable money during the slower times.

Small Firms, Big Business

The ability to assign client work to contract attorneys enables a small firm to take on projects they would otherwise decline or refer elsewhere.  Hiring a temporary team to handle influxes of work provides solutions to handle large scale matters.  It also affords opportunities to handle matters involving foreign languages that the firm does not have the infrastructure to handle (ie a team of fluent Japanese attorneys to review documents from a client in Japan).  Now, having a legal staffing agency accessible to handle matters outside of the firm’s capability, gives them the power to undertake work and clients previously unavailable to them.

Stay Competitive

Contract attorneys are generally less expensive to employ than full time permanent staff.  Firms can pass this savings on to their clients by offering lower rates for the work completed by these contract attorneys.  Offering lower cost contract attorney solutions to clients affords firms another service offering for their clients to utilize at a discount.

Payment for Services Rendered

A primary reason that law firms choose to work with staffing agencies is to reduce overall costs for the company. By utilizing contract attorneys for temporary or short term client work, the firm avoids the ancillary costs of a full-time employee (health benefits, disability, etc.).  Utilizing a temporary workforce allows firms to distribute work appropriately during busy times, and scale down expenses during slower periods.  In addition, when there are obstacles in building new clientele or during slower periods, avoiding separation costs commonly associated with permanent staff makes the decision that much more palatable.

Payroll Float

In today’s economy, clients are paying their legal bills slower and slower.  Large scale document review during discovery phase in a large litigation or due diligence review of a merger can require significant labor resources.  Staffing a large project internally can be a massive financial burden on a firm with a slow paying client.  Utilizing a staffing agency to staff/payroll a contract attorney team affords the law firm some time to pay for these temporary attorneys.  Typically, staffing firms have a thirty day payment cycle on invoices. This buys law firms an extra month before they have to pay for the services of these contract attorneys creating a favorable cash flow for the law firm when expenses are high.

Proving Grounds for Permanence

Hiring a contract attorney on a project-by-project basis has its advantages, but many firms are hiring contract attorneys as a method of getting to know how well they fit into an organization and its mission.  Vetting full-time permanent candidates initially as temporaries allows law firms to test the skill-set and viability of a new employee before they are technically hired by the firm.  Particularly for small firms and companies, using a legal staffing agency to scrutinize prospective full-time employees simply makes sense.