5 Reasons to Use Contract
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5 Reasons to Use a Contract Attorney

A contract attorney is licensed to practice law, but instead of working for a firm as a full-time employee, they work on an hourly, project, or temporary basis. They have earned their law degrees, passed the required bar exams, and can perform virtually any function of a full- time associate or in-house counsel. By enlisting a contract attorney through a placement agency, law firms can avoid risk and realize immediate efficiencies and cost reductions. The agency will handle all administrative matters and cover employment-related costs including insurance, taxes, benefits, and payroll. Furthermore, firms can bill the work done by a contract attorney at a partner’s rate, an associate’s rate, or any rate that has been agreed to. Firms of all sizes and specialties have taken advantage of the significant savings and profit potential of utilizing contract attorneys. Here are five common scenarios:

1)  To cover practice area gaps.

If a client or prospective client requests legal services outside a firm’s areas of expertise, the firm can turn away the work or refer the client to a competitor. A third option is to utilize a contract attorney who specializes in the area the firm is lacking. Hiring a contract attorney with expertise in a niche area can help retain clients and strengthen a firm while maintaining quality and consistency.

2) To navigate absences and business cycles

The use of contract attorneys can allow your firm to ramp up during peak busy periods or fill in gaps when key attorneys are on extended leave for health, personal, or other reasons. Engaging a contract attorney can increase manpower without the associated hiring costs if you have a sudden urgent matter and need additional help.  It also reduces the risk of potential unemployment costs.

3) To assess potential permanent staff

A hiring mistake can be costly and time consuming for a law firm. Management can consider engaging a candidate as a contract attorney to ensure that a candidate is a right match for the firm and its clients. Once the firm has determined that the candidate is a good fit and that there is sufficient workflow, then the contract attorney can be converted to a permanent employee.

4) To grow the firm without adding associates

Contract attorneys don’t need mentoring or development programs, 401K plans or other perks. They arrive fully versed in their area of law and ready to work. A contract attorney is a variable cost directly correlated to a firm’s needs. Whether it’s 10 hours of work or a flat fee arrangement, the firm only pays the agreed-upon price.

5) To handle document and research-intensive matters

Some corporate, real estate and finance transactions can overwhelm even the largest of firms with the sheer volume of documents and research. Contract attorneys can provide a potential solution. A firm can contract junior attorneys to review thousands of documents or seasoned attorneys to handle motions, depositions, trials, and appeals. Once the project ends, and the work is completed, the firm incurs no additional labor costs.

HIRING A CONTRACT ATTORNEY
Contract attorneys can be found through traditional recruiting channels, word of mouth, networking, or through placement agencies. Most agencies maintain a list of qualified candidates in specific practice areas and can help in securing appropriately-skilled, proven attorneys in specific practice areas or areas of expertise. The agency handles the screening process, verifies the attorney’s academic degrees and legal credentials, including admission to the bar, current good standing, past employment, and references. Payroll, employer-related taxes, benefits and other HR matters are also handled by the agency since the contract attorney is their employee, not the law firms.

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