How Law Firms Are Leveraging Flexible Legal Talent

June 25, 2024

How Law Firms Are Leveraging Flexible Legal Talent

Law firms face constant pressure to adapt to changing market and client demands and maintain high service quality. One strategy that can effectively address these challenges is leveraging flexible legal talent, such as interim, supplemental, and fractional attorneys, who offer top-notch expertise and the agility needed to meet the evolving needs of both law firms and their clients.

Flexible legal staffing refers to a workforce model that involves engaging attorneys and other legal professionals on a temporary or project-specific basis rather than hiring them as full-time employees. These professionals are typically independent contractors or employees of an alternative legal services provider like Latitude and are hired for defined durations, ranging from a few weeks to several months or years, to fill gaps or work on specific projects.

By engaging interim talent, law firms can access attorneys with sophisticated practice experience to assist their teams on a flexible basis. These attorneys bring a wealth of knowledge from working across multiple organizations and practice areas, equipping them with a unique perspective and the ability to adapt quickly to new environments and challenges.

The flexibility offered by flexible legal talent is a significant advantage, allowing law firms to rapidly scale their teams in response to fluctuating workloads and project demands. This approach eliminates the long-term commitments associated with full-time hires, enabling firms to remain nimble and competitive in a rapidly changing market.

Examples of Flexible Legal Talent Solutions in Action

Have you thought about how flexible legal talent could benefit your law firm? We’ve compiled several practical examples illustrating the value of engaging interim attorneys based on real client experiences.

In these examples, law firms engaged flexible talent to help them manage an intense spike in workload, avoid a potentially disruptive circumstance while maintaining high-quality service, and strategically manage headcount and budget challenges with agility. These examples highlight the strategic advantages of integrating flexible talent into your team when faced with dynamic operational demands.

  1. Tackling a Surge in Workload

Leveraging flexible talent allows law firms to efficiently tackle a surge in workload by providing the agility to scale their workforce up or down based on demand. This approach enables firms to quickly bring in experienced interim attorneys to manage increased workloads, ensuring that client needs are met without overburdening full-time staff. By aligning labor costs with actual demand, firms can optimize budget allocation, enhance profitability, avoid burnout, and maintain high-quality service even during periods of intense workload.

For example, one of our clients experienced an overwhelming surge in client lawsuits. They urgently needed experienced litigation attorneys who could help to work up cases throughout the litigation lifecycle, from initial pleadings to trial preparation. They engaged more than 20 proven litigation attorneys from Latitude who supported lead counsel in several crucial areas, including assisting with pleadings, written discovery, dispositive motion practice, conducting depositions and various trial preparation needs, including drafting motions in limine and other pretrial submissions to the court.

By bringing in experienced litigation attorneys to support their full-time staff, the firm not only addressed its immediate needs but also ensured that its clients received top-tier service without delay.

  1. Minimizing Team Disruption

Flexible talent can help a law firm minimize team disruption by seamlessly filling temporary gaps, such as a full-time team member taking leave. By engaging attorneys on an as-needed basis, firms can ensure that their operations continue smoothly without interruption. These interim attorneys can quickly integrate into the team, manage ongoing projects, and support client needs, maintaining consistent service levels and preventing any delays or disruptions in workflow. This approach helps the firm sustain productivity and client satisfaction.

While leave coverage is perhaps the most recognized example, bringing in flexible legal talent can also resolve other potentially disruptive scenarios. For instance, a global law firm partner was approached by their client to immediately begin a six-to-twelve-month secondment as senior in-house environmental counsel. Rather than losing a highly productive senior-level attorney to the secondment, the firm seconded a highly experienced Latitude Attorney to its client to manage the work. This solution fully satisfied the client, avoided disrupting the law firm’s internal staffing, and prevented a competing law firm from gaining a foothold with the client.

  1. Dynamic Resource Optimization

Interim or supplemental attorneys can help law firms strategically position themselves to win new business and enhance client relationships by providing the flexibility to scale their workforce according to project demands without the long-term commitment of full-time hires. This allows firms to take on new matters or complete special projects without over-hiring permanent staff, thereby maintaining a lean core team.

For example, a large corporate law firm wanted to win a bid to oversee a major piece of business, but the client required that they identify a niche regulatory attorney who would be dedicated to the work. The firm did not have, and would not need, an attorney in that role unless they won the bid.

The firm hired one of Latitude’s Attorneys on an engagement basis so they could propose a complete team. After winning the business, the law firm continued the attorney’s engagement for several months and eventually hired them as a permanent member of their team. Had the firm not won the work, they could simply have concluded the attorney’s engagement at the end of the bid process.

Additionally, firms can engage flexible talent for lower-margin work, optimizing the allocation of their full-time attorneys to higher-value tasks. This strategic use of interim attorneys helps firms control costs, enhance profitability, and adapt swiftly to changing client needs and market conditions.

In another example, a firm’s Fortune 200 client wanted a partner-level attorney to manage certain work for which it only wanted to pay junior associate-level rates. Rather than dedicating one of its partners to complete the work, which would impact profitability, the firm engaged a partner-level attorney from Latitude who had the experience and credentials the client was seeking to complete the client’s lower-margin work on an engagement basis. This allowed the firm to preserve its client relationship while still earning a profit.

Leveraging Flexible Legal Talent Strategies

As illustrated by these examples, flexible legal talent can be a resource for law firms facing dynamic challenges. By strategically utilizing interim attorneys, firms can manage workload surges, minimize team disruption, and optimize headcount management. This approach not only addresses immediate staffing needs but also positions law firms for long-term success. Embracing flexible legal talent allows firms to stay competitive, agile, and responsive to client demands in an ever-changing market.

For more than a decade, Latitude has provided flexible legal talent solutions to law firm clients around the U.S. Explore more of our client case studies or contact us to discuss how flexible legal staffing can help your firm.

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