The Rise in Demand for Contract Legal Roles (and How to Pursue One During the Imminent Economic Downturn)

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As a deep economic downturn looms, the gig economy continues to grow, with legal talent also seeing a stronger surge in demand for contract roles. Over the past several years, law firms and in-house legal departments have brought in legal consultants and contract attorneys in record numbers to assist legal teams on a limited basis with complex issues involving corporate securities. , intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, employment and other business matters. .

When I graduated from law school in 2003, the only contract roles available were document review projects, which involved tabulating and reviewing thousands of discovery documents in a large conference room. Document review projects helped pass the time while you were looking for a job, but they weren’t enticing resume boosters.

However, in an ever-changing legal industry and with an increase in pressing economic issues (e.g. supply chain), contract legal work is now at an all-time high, providing unprecedented new opportunities for lawyers looking for consultancy work. without the commitment of a full-time job. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way many view their careers – with an increased need for flexible work hours, flexible work options, and stronger desires for a better, more balanced quality of life. These contract roles also provide hands-on opportunities for meaningful work in key areas and help build lawyers’ already existing skills.

In 2021, Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA Global), the world’s largest legal research firm, had 500 placements for contract attorneys and legal professionals in law firms and corporate legal departments (vs. 400 placements in 2020), which represents a record pace compared to the previous decade.

A recent report released by the Association of Corporate Counsel and MLA Global examined the structure of legal departments, distribution of labour, law firm utilization, expenses and diversity. The report revealed that the internal/external spending split had changed from a 50/50 split to majority internal spending this year. The report further showed that more legal departments are shifting work in-house in areas such as due diligence, labor and employment, legal research and intellectual property.

Matthew Weaver, Executive Director of Interim Legal Talent MLA Global, explained that this transition “represents a major change for many lawyers who are familiar only with pursuing a partner or general counsel, or simply climbing the corporate ladder. career”. Weaver’s team, MLA Interim Legal Talent (Interim), works with well-established lawyers and legal professionals who are looking for challenging legal work. Projects last from three to 12 months in a variety of practice areas, including corporate law, regulation and compliance. And, as Weaver explains, “These projects allow companies and internal departments to hire talented lawyers for project-related matters without undertaking costly recruiting and employment measures. Recruitment and employment, as well as staff expertise is a challenge in times of economic downturn. [In contrast]Efficiently hiring contract staff provides a law firm or legal department with bandwidth elasticity and cost controls unavailable with traditional metrics.

Contract legal roles have grown in popularity in recent years for those going through major life or career transitions, and the COVID pandemic has taught us how quickly crisis mode can cause companies to downsize and create major changes in operational speeds or workflows. On the MLA Global site for contract attorney roles, recent listings include Acting Business Counsel, Acting Product Counsel, Acting Business Litigator, and even Acting Intellectual Property Attorney. Some of these roles offer remote opportunities while others require hybrid on-site work. The salary range is wide and between $80 and $150 for these roles, with acting general counsel, high-end and specialized work well beyond this range in the corporate sphere.

Important to consider, some of these contract roles can potentially offer conversion models to full-time employment. So, to secure these legal advice and contracting opportunities, lawyers should network on LinkedIn with legal research firms such as MLA and its competitors, as well as legal operations and legal departments. This presents yet another reason why your resume and LinkedIn profile should always be updated before doing this outreach. If you’re looking for a contractual role specializing in intellectual property matters, make sure your LinkedIn summary (which is public for legal research talent like MLA Global) explains your level of expertise and provides sample questions you have processed.

In conclusion, interim and contract legal roles are excellent “bridging jobs” for lawyers in transition (whether by choice or due to company downsizing). They give you the opportunity to maintain and develop your legal skills, network with other lawyers, and build relationships while earning compensation. With networking being a necessity to advance employment opportunities today in the digital age, contract legal roles are certainly a win-win solution for those who are unsure where their next permanent legal opportunity will be or want to increased flexibility. Contract legal roles provide many opportunities for increased and enhanced networking while meeting immediate career needs.

Have a question about pursuing a contract legal role or how to note a contract legal role on your resume? Feel free to connect on LinkedIn.


Wendi Weiner is a lawyer, career expert and founder of The Writing Guru, an award-winning executive resume writing services company. Wendi creates powerful career and personal brands for lawyers, executives, and suite/board leaders for their job search and digital footprint. She also writes for major publications on alternative careers for lawyers, personal branding, LinkedIn storytelling, career strategy, and the job search process. You can reach her by email at [email protected]connect with her on LinkedInand follow her on Twitter @thewritingguru.



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