Remote and Hybrid Hiring Trends for Legal Departments and Law Firms

June 14, 2024

Remote and Hybrid Hiring: Key Trends for Legal Departments and Law Firms

The landscape of work has evolved significantly over the past few years, with remote and hybrid work arrangements becoming a defining feature of modern employment. As we progress through 2024, understanding these trends can help corporate legal department and law firm leaders position themselves to attract and retain top talent more effectively.

As a flexible legal talent company that provides high-caliber attorneys for contract and permanent roles with legal departments and law firms, Latitude is able to observe legal talent market patterns.

Our recent Q1 trends analysis provides interesting insights on remote and hybrid hiring behaviors, offering a view into the preferences and demands of hiring managers for both permanent and interim or engagement-based roles.

Is Hybrid Work Becoming the New Norm?

Latitude’s Q1 data suggests that hybrid work is becoming a common arrangement for permanent positions in the legal industry. Approximately 60% of our permanent orders from the first quarter of this year feature hybrid schedules, typically requiring employees to spend three days in the office and two working remotely.

This 3/2 hybrid schedule is among the most widely adopted. According to Gallup’s research on remote work trends, employees typically prefer to be in the office two to three days per week. On average, they report being in the office 2.6 days per week, which aligns with their reported preference.

Initially, it seems that some employers had concerns that employees might resist returning to the office. However, the new 2024 Law Firm Office Attendance Policies Report from Thomson Reuters Institute reveals that the majority of legal professionals have not only adjusted to but also welcomed new hybrid office attendance policies.

The hybrid model strikes a balance that is appealing to both employees and organizations, offering the benefits of both in-person collaboration alongside the flexibility of remote work. Based on conversations with clients and others in in the legal industry, we believe hybrid work arrangements have become popular for several reasons, including:

  1. Flexibility and work-life balance. Allowing employees to work from home part of the week supports a healthier work-life balance, increasing job satisfaction and reducing burnout.
  2. Talent attraction and retention. We speak with accomplished legal professionals every day; many of whom tell us they want some level of flexibility in their jobs. Hybrid schedules make positions more attractive to top talent who value both office interactions and remote work flexibility.

Fully Remote and In-Office Roles Are Still Relevant

The remaining 40% of Latitude’s permanent placement orders in Q1 were evenly divided between fully remote and fully in-office positions. This balance suggests to us that while hybrid work is growing in popularity, there is still space in today’s talent market for fully remote and fully in-office roles.

Fully remote roles are highly appealing to a specific subset of the workforce that values complete location independence. These roles offer the flexibility to work from any location, which is especially attractive to those who prioritize work-life balance, have caregiving responsibilities, or live in areas with limited job opportunities. The ability to work remotely also broadens the talent pool for employers, allowing them to attract high-caliber candidates from diverse geographic locations. Consequently, these positions are often highly competitive.

Conversely, fully in-office roles cater to individuals who prefer a traditional work environment or whose job functions necessitate their physical presence. Some workers thrive in a structured office setting, where the boundaries between work and home life are clearly defined, and where they can benefit from direct collaboration and access to office amenities.

Employers who provide a range of working options can appeal to a wider talent pool and adapt more flexibly to the evolving demands of the workforce.

Trends In Interim, Supplemental, and Fractional Engagements

The demand for flexible or contract engagements is typically driven by a variety of circumstances, including leave coverage, turnover, full-time hiring restrictions, and work overflow. As a result, finding the right candidate with the required skills and cultural fit who can swiftly step in plays a significant role in scaling the team to meet fluctuating demands.

Approximately 90% of our clients are open to remote arrangements for interim or fractional roles. Where it makes sense for our clients and the specific circumstances of the flexible role they want to fill, we recommend considering remote candidates.

Remote work allows companies and law firms to tap into a broader talent pool, which can be particularly beneficial when candidates are needed quickly to fill open positions. By broadening the search to include remote workers, organizations have more options to find the candidate with the best fit for their needs and culture.

What’s more, a legal talent provider like Latitude, which has an existing network of attorneys open to flexible work arrangements, can take on the task of identifying and vetting job seekers from the broader talent pool and present you with top candidates based on your requirements and culture. This significantly reduces the time you need to invest in searching and vetting.

Navigating Hybrid, Remote, and In-Office Trends

The shift towards remote and hybrid work represents a fundamental change in how we approach work. Latitude’s Q1 2024 analysis underscores the increasing adoption of hybrid work schedules, reflecting a broader market trend that balances the benefits of in-person collaboration with the flexibility of remote work. While hybrid roles are becoming the new norm, the demand for fully remote and fully in-office positions remains robust, catering to diverse employee preferences and operational needs. Moreover, the growing acceptance of remote interim and fractional engagements highlights the strategic advantage of tapping into a broader talent pool. By staying attuned to these trends, legal departments and law firms can better navigate the talent landscape and adapt to the changing expectations of today’s workforce.

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