Last week, I had the honor and privilege of speaking at the annual conference of the National Association of Legal Search Consultants (NALSC) in Charlotte. My topic was “Change of Focus to Contract Placements with Seamless Servicing.”

The discussion was essentially a primer on contract attorney staffing for a membership that in the main focuses exclusively on permanent/direct hire attorney recruiting and placement. As contract attorney staffing becomes increasingly prevalent, interest in the topic is growing in the organization (or so the Board thought).

Given the barriers to entry on the contract side that don’t exist for perm (e.g. floating payroll and all the other burdens of being an employer to an always-turning-over employee pool), I am not surprised that most legal search firms/professionals have no plans to expand into contract staffing. I was slightly taken aback, however, that the vast majority of the top legal placement agencies in the country have no interest or desire in the concept and are not even considering it.

Most cited trepidation about the aforesaid barriers to entry, potential damage to brand, lack of knowledge of how to source and screen this distinct candidate pool, a dedication to the more lucrative partner recruiting projects and, most often, lack of resources or a general lack of know-how.

We at The Partners Group (and our sister company Legalpeople) have utmost respect for our industry mates and understand the position of the vast majority. We are pleased to fill the niche (as we have done since our launch in 1999) of a company able to handle all the legal workforce needs of our clients –both permanent attorney placement and contract attorney staffing (substantive and document review) at the highest level.

We are pondering whether there is a win-win business opportunity to offer our contract attorney expertise to perm-only companies, to whom we are a known-quantity with an established commitment to NALSC-type ethics and professionalism. Standby on that front…

In the meantime, many thanks to NALSC for the opportunity, and to its members for promoting and adhering to the highest levels of professionalism in the legal placement industry.