Like most law offices, yours has probably brought in contract lawyers for big eDiscovery projects and other assignments that required significant research. You've may also hired contingent attorneys to fill in when your firm's full-time lawyers have gone on leave. From those experiences, you've learned that temporary services can be a godsend, helping you complete projects quickly and relieving the burden on your full-time staff.
But have you ever considered bringing in temporary professionals for legal support positions? If not, here are four reasons you should:
1. You can't do it without them. Legal assistants, legal secretaries and paralegals have always been important members of every law firm and corporate legal department. But now, they're critical. Legal support staff not only support lawyers and compile documents, but they also work with attorneys to perform research, generate new business leads, improve client service and much more. In other words, they're indispensable, and without them, the firm simply doesn't run as well. If you're short on support staff, temporary services can help you get over the hump.
2. They can provide critical help on special projects. When you need more hands to complete a large assignment or meet a tight court deadline, interim legal assistants and paralegals can be invaluable. The best ones can perform research for trials, file court documents and work with your eDiscovery software. By engaging temporary services, you can also access expertise you might not currently have on staff, even for in-demand specialties – for instance, paralegals with experience in healthcare; regulatory compliance; or patent, trademark and copyright law.
3. They give your current staff more job stability. During the economic downturn, many law firms and corporate law departments downsized. The legal field is recovering, but no company wants to repeat the pain of those layoffs and the stress the experience put on the staff that remained. Temporary services can help you avoid similar cycles of hiring and layoffs by allowing you to staff up and down as the needs of your business ebb and flow.
4. You can evaluate a potential new employee on the job. Maybe you're considering bringing new legal support staff on board full time, but you're concerned about making a bad hire. When you engage temporary services, you get what amounts to a trial period. If the temporary legal assistant or secretary performs the responsibilities and duties of the job well, you can offer him or her a full-time position. If the fit isn't right, you can terminate the relationship at the end of the contract.
If you decide to use temporary services for legal support staff, make sure to work with a staffing firm that specializes in the legal field. Recruiters at a specialized employment agency will be able to find the people you need quickly because their candidate pool is focused on legal professionals and because they have a deeper understanding of the industry.