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Posted by Charles A. Volkert
Senior District President
Robert Half Legal
When I started my legal career, few law firms or corporate legal departments were hiring interim legal professionals to help meet caseload demands yet alone assist with special projects. But in recent years, the use of temporary staffing during workload spikes only has expanded to include more strategic hiring practices.
"Flexible staffing" — maintaining a dynamic year-round mix of temporary and full-time staff — has become widely recognized as a viable solution to manage the ebb and flow of legal work and meet increased demand for specialized expertise. In other words, because not every job requires a full-time employee, adding or subtracting interim legal professionals as needed allows law firms and legal departments the flexibility to meet fluctuating workload demands and secure specialized expertise without incurring the costs associated with overstaffing.
What Kind of Legal Recruiting Firm Should I Work With?
As common as flexible staffing has become in the legal profession, I’m often asked for advice on how to fill temporary legal jobs. My answer: A legal recruiting firm is central to your success.
I'm also asked what kind of firm to look for — a legal recruiting firm that offers only specialized, temporary staffing services or one that offers consulting services? What if we need legal professionals who are eDiscovery experts? Is there any staffing firm that offers one-stop shopping?
When I answer these questions, my key recommendations are:
- Make sure you work with a firm that's truly specialized in placing legal professionals. Specialized legal recruiting firms can quickly locate skilled legal professionals for law firms and legal departments to evaluate.
- Be sure you've identified the specific type of assistance you need — whether temporary litigation support, managed review, eDiscovery services, help in other areas, or all of the above. Many organizations have trouble finding a firm that can meet all of their staffing requirements. Look for one that has a broad enough scope to handle all your legal staffing needs.
- Once you've found a potential legal recruiting firm, interview the lead manager and ask probing questions. This will help you thoroughly evaluate whether the firm is equipped to meet all of your temporary staffing needs.
Can a Recruiting Firm With a Broad Scope Really Do a Better Job?
Yes. I recall a client request involving document discovery in several countries. More than 16 million documents had to be obtained, organized and culled to responsive material within 10 days. As one of the few companies that specialize in recruiting and placing project professionals across multiple disciplines in multiple locations, we were able to assign a team of 14 managers, lawyers and paralegals within three hours of the client’s call. The team completed the project three days ahead of schedule and under budget.
As I mentioned, it’s also essential to obtain comprehensive background on any recruitment organization before deciding which can provide temporary staffing services that most closely match your needs.