Legal Employment: Manage Workload Demands with Temporary Legal Jobs

"Staff overtime is at an all-time high. "

"We have more cases now than people to handle them. "

"This new project requires expertise we don’t have on staff. "

If you’re a senior attorney hearing these kinds of protests from your staff, it could sound like the troops are getting restless and you may need to take some action quickly.

A colleague came to me recently, asking about a similar legal employment challenge. He was facing a large, new project that required specialized skills not available in-house, plus his legal staff was clocking in too much overtime (and beginning to grumble about it). Because his organization was focusing on growing new business, senior managers were cautious about any hiring that would impact the budget.

When I suggested he supplement the workforce with temporary legal staff, he was concerned. He had reservations about working with individuals unfamiliar with his company, relinquishing "control " to external resources and incurring additional expense as a result. So I outlined legal managers’ growing recognition of strategic staffing practices, especially during periods of uncertainty, growth and/or conservative budgets. 

Flexible staffing solutions allow organizations to: 

  • Staff up or down as required. A mix of core staff and interim professionals provides flexibility to increase or reduce staff as needed without incurring the risk or expense associated with overstaffing.

  • Tap into critical talent. Bringing in project professionals with proven abilities provides immediate access to required skills and experience not available in-house.

  • Meet short-term needs. Many legal projects and cases require additional personnel for brief periods of intensive work but may not justify hiring full-time employees.

As I discussed these benefits with my colleague, he brought up concerns about being able to effectively manage temporary legal professionals. We discussed the importance of choosing a skilled, experienced legal recruiter to secure professionals with the required skills and to identify strategies to manage interim staff.
He agreed to try staffing the document review phase of his project with some temporary legal hires. After seeing the quality of the end product and the cost savings, he became a believer. His organization is now embracing flexible staffing with increased frequency.
Because the legal profession is so project-driven, flexible staffing can provide an ideal interim solution. It’s not surprising this is becoming a long-term strategy for a growing number of legal organizations.

What innovative strategies have you used to meet workload demand in your organization? We’d love for you to add your feedback below.