As the head of contract staffing for The Partners Group, I am often asked by clients and potential clients “what are some of the reasons that law firms or in-house legal departments use contract attorneys?” Without further ado and in honor of Letterman’s impending retirement, I present our blog readers with our Top 10 Reasons to Use Contract Attorneys!
Number 10 – A Litigation partner at a law firm might have an unusually large amount of documents that have to be reviewed in a large case for privilege and responsiveness. Rather than use his associates and divert them for several weeks away from their caseload, he or she will call The Partners Group to staff the review either at their firm or at one of our four document review centers.
Number 9 – Foreign Language Documents – Oftentimes our clients encounter cases with documents in a foreign language that must be reviewed and/or translated and summarized. TPG has staffed many of these reviews including those with documents in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian and Swedish.
Number 8 – Corporate partners or corporate in-house attorneys are closing a large acquisition or deal and need to beef up their due diligence teams. One good example is a finance practice group at a mid-sized firm with several large deals that need to be closed before the end of the year might come to TPG to hire several experienced transactional contract attorneys for one to three months in the fall.
Number 7 – Coverage for an attorney out on sick leave or maternity leave is a very popular reason to use a contract attorney. Both law firms and busy in-house legal departments will hire an experienced litigator or transactional contract attorney for a several month stretch to cover for an associate or an in-house attorney who is having surgery, having a baby, or has some other medical or personal reason for being out for several months.
Number 6 – Law firms that are top heavy with partners and don’t want to hire any more “on track” mid or senior level associates who will expect to be made partner in a few years will often use contract attorneys in order to get a senior level or junior partner level experienced attorney who can hit ground running for less money than hiring a traditional associate with partnership track aspirations.
Number 5 – The use of contract attorneys is often incorporated into proposals by law firms to in-house clients who have invited several firms to bid on work. The use of experienced contract attorneys at a much lower hourly rate is often the winning combination to satisfy a client with a budget for a large litigation or transaction.
Number 4 – The use of contract attorneys and paralegals as a revenue generator is another increasing popular reason for law firms to use contract attorneys. Contract attorneys and paralegals are paid by The Partners Group on an hourly basis without your firm having to incur benefit expenses such as healthcare or payroll taxes. Our hourly rates typically range between $45 and $75 for attorneys and between $20 and $35 for paralegals. Under ABA rules, the firm can then mark up the hourly rate paid by the firm to the staffing agency for the contractor.
Number 3 – Flexible staffing – Our contract attorneys know that they are only being hired for a specific project and that when the project ends the assignment is over. Firms or in-house legal departments can expand or “contract” as their business, busy season, or caseload dictates without wasting time and money hiring permanent attorneys or paralegals who might subsequently have to be laid off.
Number 2 – Rather than hire an associate on a permanent basis right away due to an increase in work flow, many small to mid-size firms will hire “temp to perm”. This gives a firm an opportunity to hire an experienced contract attorney on a trial basis and for the firm to try out the attorney for a good fit in terms of experience and personality without making an immediate permanent hire. The “temp to perm” hire also significantly decreases any recruitment costs as any perm fee is reduced based on the number of hours billed by the attorney on a contract basis. This also allows a smaller firm an opportunity to fill in a gap in a specific very specialized practice area such as tax, patent, or ERISA on a trial basis rather than refer out the work to other firms.
Number 1 – The number ONE reason for any firm partner or in-house legal attorney to hire contract attorneys is to help them with work that they don’t otherwise WANT to do! If that stack of contracts needs to be reviewed and entered into a database or that gig of documents needs to be reviewed and you would much rather be dealing with clients or generating business, then call TPG to hire one or more project attorneys to do the work or tasks you would rather not handle yourself and free yourself up for the kind of work you find interesting!