Having worked as a contract attorney and now a recruiter for contract attorneys, I feel that I have a pretty unique perspective on the topic. The most common question or concern I get from a lot of candidates is about the “stigma” of being a contract attorney. Is it Trick or Treat?
As a recruiter, I often get calls from people asking for more information on being a contract attorney and if it’s the right route for them to take. My answer to them – it depends. In my opinion, being a contract attorney can be really beneficial for the right person. Take my personal situation – a recent law school graduate in a tough market… impending law school loan payments… waiting for my bar results… TREAT. Another example – you took a leave from work to raise a family…had a baby…had another baby… kids go to school… you want to slowly re-enter the workforce…TREAT. OR – your significant other just got a job in a new market… you’re only barred in your home state… you need to study for another bar exam (ouch)… BUT, you need to pay for groceries…TREAT.
Now, if a recruiter calls you and asks you to leave your partnership track associate position for a 2 month substantive contract position because the firm boasts a collegial environment…TRICK.
In other words, the contract attorney route is not for everyone. BUT, depending on your situation, it might be a perfect fit and can often lead to a more promising opportunity. The one thing that I always advise to my candidates is to treat each contract position as an on the job interview. Although you may be looking for your next great permanent position, if you were to start in a contract position and do an amazing job for a firm with a permanent need, you could very well find yourself with a great TREAT.