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July 15, 2019

Three Modern Employment Models for Law Firms

The legal industry is in a state of massive transformation. As clients continue to expect maximum value for their legal spend and legal professionals crave more flexibility in their work lives, a new hiring model is starting to emerge. This new model allows law firms to better respond to individual client needs, firm strengths and market competition. While each option offers clear advantages, there are also things to keep in mind. Let’s take a look at the potential pitfalls and possibilities of each.

Temporary Employment

A short-term position, up to six months in length, that fills an immediate need for the firm. According to the Wall Street Journal, approximately 34% of law firms rely on the help of temporary legal professionals.

Advantages

  • Quick Hire–When there’s no pressure of commitment and the employer risk that’s attached, you can hire someone much faster than if the position was full-time.
  • No More Hiring Mistakes—Poor hiring choices can lead to big losses in wages and productivity. However, temporary attorneys are pre-screened and their skills are tested before they are brought on. Plus, temporary employees allow you to scale with the ebb and flow of your business.
  • Tax Purposes—Staffing agencies like JurisTemps cover unemployment and payroll taxes and serve as an employer of record.

Don’t forget to pay attention to your team dynamic and ensure that temporary employees are treated with the same respect as full-time staff.

Real World Scenarios

  • A law firm’s legal assistant called in sick at 3 am. By 9 am, JurisTemps had found them a temporary fill-in who had several years of experience in their specialized area of law. Without a staffing agency that had qualified candidates on deck, it would have been a struggle for the firm to find a same-day replacement for the position.
  • A law firm needed to cover an upcoming medical leave for their employee. JurisTemps was able to help them find someone with the right background in time to train side-by-side with the firm’s employee before his leave.

If you’re interested in hiring one or more temporary employees, click here to submit a staffing request.

Temp-to-Hire Employment

A short-term arrangement that has the potential to turn into a full-time position if there is a mutual fit. These legal pros usually work anywhere from a month to six months before the decision is made to bring them on full-time.

Advantages

  • Test Things Out—You have the opportunity to determine whether the employee would be an ideal fit long term.
  • Scalability—Smart law firms will bid for additional work when they know they have high-caliber, reliable help on deck. That way you can win projects without worrying about having to keep up the overhead if the client’s requests slow down or stop. Or, if the client work becomes consistent and plentiful, you have the option to turn them into a permanent employee.
  • Time Saver—A staffing firm's streamlined process means fewer resumes to review, pre-screened candidates, and a quicker time to placement.
  • Tax Purposes—Staffing agencies like JurisTemps cover unemployment and payroll taxes and serve as an employer of record.

Keep in mind that a temporary employee who doesn’t get brought on full-time within their first few months will likely begin looking for other opportunities.

Real World Scenarios

  • A national law firm was interested in finding the right legal assistant for their new branch. They reached out to JurisTemps for help finding temporary placement so that they could ensure the right fit. JurisTemps filled the role, and after three months, the firm hired the temp as a full-time employee with benefits. Within one year, she was promoted and JurisTemps helped the firm find another temp-to-hire legal assistant. This “try before you buy” arrangement works well for firms who want to take the time to ensure each employee is a strong fit before investing in them.
  • A group of attorneys branched off from a large firm to start their own specialized practice. They needed admin support but wouldn’t be able to offer healthcare and other benefits for a few months. JurisTemps helped the young firm hire several temporary legal assistants. A few months later, the employees were offered full-time roles with salary and benefits. It would have been much more difficult for the group to attract talented paralegals without being able to offer benefits and competitive wages. The temp-to-hire legal assistants helped them build the foundation they needed to take off and were rewarded with full-time positions.

If you’re interested in hiring one or more temp-to-hire employees, click here to submit a staffing request.

Direct Hire Employment

A long-term position in which the employee is brought on full-time and receives a traditional salary with all the benefits provided by the employer. Nearly 70% of 2017 law graduates accepted full-time positions.

Advantages

  • Worker Motivation—Full-time employees often exhibit higher productivity and maintain a consistent workload.
  • A Special Allegiance—Full-time professionals typically offer increased focus and loyalty to your firm.
  • Time Saver—A staffing firm's streamlined process means fewer resumes to review, pre-screened candidates, and quicker time to placement.

Make sure that you are as thorough as possible during the interview process, because training new employees is costly and time consuming. However, without a strong onboarding process, retention rates will go down.

Real World Scenarios

  • A company had been searching for the right trademark paralegal for more than two years. JurisTemps knew of a potential candidate who was already employed but passively looking for a better opportunity. She was interviewed and hired almost immediately. This was a big win-win for both parties: the firm was able to have a third party shoulder the responsibility of finding the right person for the job, and the candidate was recruited for a great position that likely would’ve flown under her radar.
  • A law firm was having trouble finding the right attorney to add to their practice. They reached out to JurisTemps and within two weeks had found the perfect fit. It was the first time the firm had ever used a staffing service. The quick, two-week turnaround time for the hire likely would’ve taken them months and cost them time and resources that were better spent focused on other work.

If you’re interested in hiring one or more direct hire employees, click here to submit a staffing request.

At the end of the day, choosing between temporary, temp-to-hire, and direct hire employment is a matter of preference. Each option comes with its own set of benefits and potential obstacles, so it pays to weigh the choices before making a decision. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that your law firm has options when it comes to filling needs for all types of projects. Learn more about our proven recruiting process here or contact us to learn more.

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