One such area we see this is with the increasing number of lawyers freelancing, moving from one short-term contract to another. This trend is driven by both sides of the equation. For firms and companies, budgetary pressures have hit full-time head counts hard. Increasingly unable to recruit full-time resources, many firms are looking to get around restrictive head counts with ‘off the books’ short-term contract appointments.
Although initially born out of necessity, short-term contracting is becoming not only a convenient option for law firms but is also delivering many benefits.
Firms are in an incredibly fortunate position. The very same market pressures which are reducing full-time head count are driving larger volumes of higher calibre candidates into the short-term market talent pool”, says legal recruitment specialist, Jacinta Fish.
These candidates come armed with fresh ideas and new ways of doing things, so we often see law firms extracting great value from these contractors in the short period they are placed with them, all without having to pay the overheads associated with full time employees.”
Contractors also help firms move around the various peaks and troughs of work load, helping them manage large or unforeseen projects without overworking their full-time employees, which can lead to poor engagement and burn out. Taking on a contractor can be a good way for firms to test resourcing structures such as expansion or extending their range of services.
Another benefit to firms is the productiveness of short-term contractors. As we know, firms can also be incredibly hierarchical, with most lawyers having a plan and timeline for ascending the ladder, however for contractors, this is not a distraction and we find they are more focused on being as effective within their contracted role.”
The benefits of short-term contracting also work the other way for candidates.
The rise of the ‘gig economy’ has seen many lawyers actively looking for work that is more flexible and less restrictive. The ability to broaden their experience across a breadth of firms, cases and projects is not only convenient but also delivers real time career satisfaction’, says Fish.
For contractors, the possibility that the contract position might evolve into a permanent position is real and something we see often. Many firms will offer contractors permanent ongoing work but the exciting part for contractors is that they will have had a chance to ‘try before you buy’ and will know whether the culture and opportunities within a firm are suited to them.”
And of course, a big benefit is income. Short-term contracts are well re-numerated, so many are finding the combination of more choice, flexibility, career experience and higher income not only a viable, but preferable.”
Some examples of the sorts of short-term contract roles Jacinta Fish FlexIt has placed include:
- A financial services business took on a senior finance lawyer for 2 months on a maternity leave contract. This short term contract led to the creation of a new role for the contractor.
- A senior mergers and acquisitions lawyer originally hired for 12 months to assist with project work was subsequently offered a full time position with the business.
Experienced lawyers as well as recent graduates are benefiting from short-term contracting arrangements. Although larger firms continue to increase their graduate intakes, law graduates are still finding it more difficult than ever to find full-time positions and clerkships.
For graduates keen to get moving with their career, short-term contracting can help them get that foot in the door and give them an opportunity to prove themselves” says Fish.
Competition between graduates is tough, so many see short-term contracting as no longer inferior to long-term positions but as a clever way to broaden their experience and improve their employment prospects.”
With the benefits flowing both ways, short-term contracting promises to be a win-win for firms and lawyers alike.
For more information, or to learn more about the benefits of short-term contracting for you, or your firm, contact:
Jacinta Fish at Jacinta Fish FlexIt
- P: (03) 9039 9990
- E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Level 3, 356 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
This post is proudly sponsored by Jacinta Fish FlexIt.