In the current legal market, short-term contracting opportunities are becoming increasingly more common as a greater number of lawyers are seeking non-traditional employment opportunities that provide flexibility and improved work/life balance.
Short-term contracting or consulting has recently emerged as the preferred method of work for many lawyers and in-house legal teams, with 38% of lawyers considering it as a viable option, according to a study by law firm Allen & Overy.
Benefits – Lawyers
Flexibility and work-life balance are considered a key factor in career satisfaction by 28% of women and 23% of men in law. Short-term contracting is an excellent option for these lawyers as placements can often be negotiated around individual availability and interests. Contract lengths range from one week to one year, with many short-term contracting roles also accommodating working from home.
Short-term contracting allows lawyers to build on and diversify their existing skill set. It is particularly useful as a means for lawyers to gain exposure to a variety of legal work in a range of different industries. It also allows both lawyers and in-house teams to “try before you buy” with many opportunities allowing for a transition to a permanent position if this is something of interest to the right lawyer. Finding the right fit may be a particularly attractive aspect of short-term contracting as 64% of lawyers put working with a high calibre and interesting team of people as the most enjoyable part of being a lawyer.
Another advantage of short-term contracting is that it allows lawyers greater control over the type of work they do as they are usually hired for specific assignments and they can choose these based on their areas of interest. This may lead to greater job satisfaction as 61% of legal consultants and 33% of private practice lawyers put a high value on a sense of control over their work.
Finally, short-term contracting is a great way for lawyers to grow their networks by working with a range of internal and external stakeholders across the WA business community, paving the way for future opportunities.
Benefits – In-house Legal Teams
A key benefit of short-term contracting for in-house legal teams is that it allows legal teams to scale up and down quickly to respond to business needs. For example, in periods when there are high volumes of work or significant time constraints/deadlines, a high-performing lawyer on a short-term contract can add significant value to a legal team. The flexibility that this type of arrangement can provide is particularly useful in dynamic industries such as mining and construction in Western Australia where the longer-term pipeline is unknown.
The increased flexibility offered by short-term contracting can have a positive flow on effect on the work/life balance of lawyers, preventing “burn-out”, which sometimes cuts short the careers of talented lawyers in the profession. Employers can make significant contributions towards a happy and healthy legal profession by using short-term contracting to spread out work load and plug gaps when lawyers are on holidays/maternity leave etc. Companies can attract and retain talented lawyers by offering this flexibility.
Contract lawyers may also be engaged to add expertise to an in-house team in areas where the existing team do not practice or are not confident in practicing. This allows the in-house team to increase its technical capabilities and better service the business.
Short-term contracting arrangements are positively transforming traditional legal practice, providing a range of benefits to talented lawyers as well as in-house legal teams. With a rapidly changing legal landscape, is contracting an option worth considering for your team?
If you are looking for cost-effective, flexible additions to your in-house legal team or wish to know more about contracting for Perth and Western Australia, feel free to contact Rebecca on 0413 152 602 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.