As we noted in a blog post earlier this week, the current climate of economic and geopolitical uncertainty makes hiring full-time legal professionals riskier than at any time in the past 15 years. Meanwhile, the advantages of flexible legal resources continue to grow. For anyone responsible for hiring legal professionals and weighing whether to do so via full-time positions or flex talent, it’s important to understand the aspects of flex staffing that have become most important in today’s environment.
The first advantage is a practical one: it is easier to secure flex talent than hire for full-time positions. Even though the hiring frenzy and salary wars of 2021 are over, law organisations continue to find hiring full-time lawyers a challenge. Few lawyers are willing to switch from one full-time position to another as recession looms and the legal industry appears poised for a downturn. Meanwhile, finding flex talent is easier than ever, with providers of flex legal talent seeing a sharp increase in legal professionals migrating from full-time positions to flexible arrangements. This mirrors the larger trend across numerous industries. That trend – including in the legal field – is likely to persist: recent estimates are that by 2025, more than 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% increase from the pre-pandemic era.
The second advantage is economic. With law departments facing reduced budgets and demands to “do more with less,” the cost savings from using attorneys in less expensive markets is more critical than ever. The same reasoning applies to law firms seeking to maintain profitability in the face of an impending downturn in demand for legal services.
The third advantage concerns expertise. Demand for specialised expertise (for example, in data privacy regulations) has surged, and the global talent pool of a flex provider makes it much easier to obtain needed expertise than searching for suitable local candidates.
This last point is especially noteworthy. Flex career paths are more acceptable and more viable than ever. This, combined with endemic burnout of lawyers in full-time jobs, has led to unprecedented availability of highly-qualified lawyers, paralegals, and legal ops professionals for flexible arrangements. Thus, even though demand for flex legal professionals is rising, the supply is, too, including high-calibre practitioners in the most sought-after practice areas.
It is no surprise that law departments and law firms are gravitating toward flex staffing. As Thompson Reuters recently noted, even law organisations
“…that may have used temporary staffing solutions sparingly in the past or tried them for the first time during the pandemic are now turning to them repeatedly. They’ve discovered that meshing the talents of their internal team with contract attorneys can help them improve their processes and workflows, lower costs, and achieve consistently outstanding results.”
The increasing advantages of flexible solutions combined with the threat of a global recession mean that flex legal talent makes more sense than ever. The flex approach minimises risk while delivering compelling benefits. If your job involves legal staffing and you have yet to begin using flex talent, there’s no reason to delay any longer!
The flex approach minimises risk while delivering compelling benefits. If your job involves legal staffing and you have yet to begin using flex talent, it's time to make the shift.