Part 2: How to Determine if a Legal Recruiting Firm is Equipped to Meet Your Interim Staffing Needs

In a previous post, I wrote about how the use of legal professionals on a project, or interim basis, has become widely recognized as a viable solution to manage the ebb and flow of legal work. This approach, also known as “flexible staffing,” is being used successfully by law firms and legal departments to meet caseload demands and gain immediate access to specialized expertise without incurring the costs associated with overstaffing. 

Yet as common as flexible staffing has become in the legal profession, I'm often asked for advice on how to best work with a legal recruiting firm. 

When evaluating agencies to find one that will best meet the unique requirements of your organization, an important first step is to identify the specific skills you need at the start, such as temporary legal support, managed review or e-discovery services, and seek out firms that specialize in that niche. 

Once you narrow down your list of potential legal recruiting firms, interview the lead manager at each one and ask in-depth questions. This will help you thoroughly evaluate whether the firm is equipped to meet your particular staffing needs. Some of the questions I recommend asking include:

  • Do you specialize in a specific type of placement? Do you focus on recruiting candidates in particular practice areas or industries? If so, what are they?
  • What is your organization’s referral-to-hire ratio? What is the duration of your average placement?
  • How long have you been in business? Do you place candidates in law firms or legal departments, or both? Large or small companies? How many clients do you have among large international companies?
  • Do you check candidates’ references? Do you validate their licenses, degrees, certifications? How do you handle a negative reference?
  • How do you evaluate a candidate’s specialized practice expertise? Do you test candidates for specific software skills or language abilities?
  • How many active candidates are in your network or database? Do you recruit candidates in particular locations? Do you have a global footprint? Where are your offices located?
  • How do you assess whether or not candidates work well in collaborative, team environments?
  • What are your fees? How are they paid?

By doing your homework, which includes a thorough evaluation and asking the right questions, you’ll be able to choose a valuable recruiting partner and take full advantage of the flexibility that interim legal professionals can offer.