Law firms have never been short on stress. High-stakes cases, strict deadlines, extra-long hours, demanding clients – these are the working conditions in the best of times. With workers across all industries reevaluating their career options, firms are striving to find ways to keep up the daily office administration even as they try to address burgeoning attrition rates.
Over the past year, there have been reports of associate shortages in law firms across the nation. Recruiters have been scrambling to find attorneys to meet the demand, while some firms have resorted to the unwanted step of turning down work that they feel unable to deliver. There have also been accounts of law firms offering six-figure sign-on bonuses to attract higher-level associates.
While there’s fear of a long-term labor shortage, there seems to be no consensus on whether this is indeed the case. It is likely that firms have tried to throw money at the problem out of desperation or lack of other options. If the issue turns out to be a short-term problem, on the other hand, these firms may regret acting quickly on such a costly impulse.
An option for law firms that may have been dismissed but deserves additional consideration is the use of legal temp agencies. Companies that screen, select and provide interim workers to firms dealing with shortages are readily available and easy to find. Law firms may balk at the idea of hiring “temp workers” as a distasteful option, but the temp worker industry is designed to meet employers where they are. They aim to supply workers with the quality and duration that the employer desires.
Below are some of the benefits of opting for a legal temp agency to address the associate shortages regarding business lawyers and standalone law firms:
If facing a sudden need to augment staff without the time or desire to recruit and onboard permanent team members, a firm may find that a legal temp agency can easily meet this demand. With its catalog of skilled, thoroughly vetted candidates to choose from, a legal temp agency is quickly able to select workers who can start contributing immediately, with little or no time lost to training or orientation. A firm can rest assured that their new workers have been screened and evaluated to ensure their suitability for their new assignments.
Using a legal temp agency will cost money, but nowhere near the expense of bringing a new employee onto the payroll. In addition to the pre-employment costs of selecting and vetting candidates, the temp agency also employs the workers. The law firm receives the benefits of additional staff without meeting salary, benefit, and tax requirements for them. Additionally, the firm will not be hit with unemployment costs once the temporary workers are done with their assignments.
Easing the Burden
The ability to bring on fresh staff to quickly fill gaps will benefit the existing permanent team members, who would otherwise feel the burden of handling the additional work. There will no longer be anxiety over how to manage vacancies, knowing that reliable legal temp agencies can help fill in when necessary.
It can be a daunting task to integrate new employees with an existing team, with no way of knowing how well they will all work together. When using workers supplied by a legal temp agency, however, a law firm has an opportunity to evaluate them in real-time. The firm gets a close-up view of how the temporary employee handles the assignment and whether they fit into the culture of the firm. This can help a firm identify those candidates who prove to be more suitable for placements with them for future assignments.
Broader Scope of Services
Staff shortfalls cannot always be predicted. But with the help of legal temp agencies, law firms can begin to prepare for them. Developing a relationship with one or more agencies can help a firm learn the availability of the types of staff they need and how best to attain the quality they prefer. A legal temp agency can assist firms in achieving smaller projects using highly skilled temporary workers. This level of flexibility can enable a firm to broaden its scope to include work they otherwise may not have had the bandwidth to complete.
Law firms may hesitate to try legal temp agencies, but they may find that the benefits are worth the risk.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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