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Legal Staffing in an Uncertain Economy

Are you planning to grow your talent base? Here are a few options to consider.

Achieving sustainable growth in a shifting legal market is one of the biggest challenges faced by firm management. Some law firms increase the headcount in their practice groups to attract more clients. Other firms secure new clients before hiring more attorneys and support staff. This tricky balancing act is a dilemma that managing partners must carefully consider because having too much or not enough manpower at critical points can drain a firm’s time, talent and resources. By looking beyond the traditional hiring process, growth can be accomplished through a myriad of levels from temporary to permanent, short-term, project-based, hourly or even virtual – each with its merits. Successful firms will take advantage of and fully utilize all available avenues to secure the right legal staffing mix. Here are some things to consider when growing your base of legal talent:

Temporary
Whether your firm is trying to attract a huge client or confronted with a litigation project that your current manpower does not support, the most expedient solution is often temporary attorneys and support staff. Hiring temporary legal staffing is a solution that allows firms to take on new projects that would otherwise be too large for its regular team to manage alone. The recruiting agency, not the law firm, is the temp worker’s employer and is responsible for payroll expenses, paperwork, withholding taxes, unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance, healthcare and any other employee benefits. As a result, the cost of temp workers is often cheaper than hiring permanent employees with benefits. Law firms can often realize immediate profits with temporary legal staffing since the billable rate can be higher than the temp’s rate. Savvy businesses will incorporate temporary staff, not just during busy times, but as a fixed percentage of their workforce.

Temp to Permanent
From competence to culture, there are many aspects that can’t be gleaned from an interview or resume. Being able to test-drive a potential new hire can give both the firm and the employee an opportunity to evaluate if the match is a fit for both parties. Temporary to permanent employees are placed in the firm for a specific period, during which time all benefits, expenses, and liabilities are the responsibility of the recruiting company, not the law firm. At the end of the prescribed period, the firm has the option to hire the employee on a full-time basis with zero additional fees. Sometimes a partial fee is owed if the prescribed work-out period isn’t completed.

Permanent Full-Time Hire
In many circumstances, nothing less than a full-time, permanent employee will fit the bill. Staffing a new office, adding notable names to a practice group or taking on long-term projects may all warrant the hiring of full-time staff. A permanent employee with benefits is a considerable investment and firms should do everything possible to ensure that they will see a return on that investment. Enlisting the services of a reputable legal staffing firm will save considerable time and effort in the search for the right talent. When choosing a placement firm, be sure and evaluate their guarantees – Collier Legal Search offers the best in the business.

Part-time or Flex-Time
There are many compelling reasons for a firm, corporation, or another workplace to offer alternative work-time options. The crushing hours and tremendous workload are expected by law firm management, but more and more attorneys at all strata of the firm are questioning a culture of working long hours to the detriment of child rearing, personal interests, pro bono advocacy, community involvement, and care for aging parents, to name a few. Offering part-time, flex-time or job-sharing options can keep valuable employees from taking their skills elsewhere and reduce career burnout.

Virtual/Telecommute or Work-at-home Temp
While not yet commonplace, the increased connectivity, technology, and cloud-based applications all point to an increased potential for utilizing the off-site talent that has been carefully screened and qualified. This option allows a staffing company the leeway to expand their search to find the candidates best suited for an assignment, regardless of location.

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