Three Ways to Use Flexible Talent to Contain Costs and Manage Your Budget

January 31, 2022

Latitude is proud to sponsor the 14th Annual Law Department Operations Survey. We understand how valuable it is to provide law departments with a consistent platform to benchmark themselves and shed light on key trends. This year’s report shows how the law department operations function is evolving toward helping law departments deliver more value to their corporations.

The survey report includes our article “Three Ways to Use Flexible Talent to Contain Costs and Manage Your Budget,” which is based on survey results. (Article below)

Download the full (and free) report, which highlights key findings, data and analysis from industry leaders on the current and future state of law department operations. Trends uncovered in the report include:

This 44-page survey report includes more than 115 data points on the current and future state of legal department operations.


Three Ways to Use Flexible Talent to Contain Costs and Manage Your Budget

by Ross Booher, CEO, and Candice Reed, EVP & Partner

The last two years have taught us that legal teams must be able to adapt quickly to changing conditions. So it is not surprising that this year’s survey shows that 74% of law departments rely on contractors/third-party staff or flexible legal talent, a 19% increase over 2020. When it comes to staffing for legally complex or sophisticated roles, the alternative to flexible legal talent—and often the primary go-to solution—is usually costly big law spend or increasing fixed costs by adding law department headcount.

But today there are a number of highly qualified and experienced attorneys, paralegals, compliance officers and legal operations professionals choosing to work outside these traditional “permanent” roles, giving companies access to high-end contract legal talent, which helps many companies better contain costs and, therefore, manage their budget. Here are three ways to leverage the high-end flexible legal talent that is available to law firms and corporate law departments now:

Rethink Secondments (Your Law Firm Will Likely Thank You)

While some law departments still ask their law firms for seconded associates and paralegals, this is becoming increasingly less common. Traditional secondments are often suboptimal for law firms, law firm secondees and law departments. In fact, many firms increasingly decline secondment requests because they often cause staffing shortages and lost profits, and can negatively impact associates’ careers. Likewise, law departments often now prefer ALSP contract attorneys and paralegals because they usually have both big law and in-house experience, and they are typically less expensive than a seconded law firm paralegal.

Many top-tier attorneys with in-demand big law and inhouse experience practice with flexible talent ALSPs and routinely serve throughout Fortune 500 law departments as well as in associate-, counsel-, and partner-level interim roles within big law firms.

Expand Your Talent Pool With Remote Professionals

Not surprisingly, there are a ton of fantastic legal professionals who would prefer to spend their time doing legal work rather than commuting three hours each day. The good news is that 91% of this year’s survey respondents said their team’s ability to deliver work product was not diminished due to COVID-19 and work from home. If you are open to attorneys, paralegals and other contract legal talent working remotely, you will increase the pool of candidates available to you, and it often will allow you to take advantage of cost savings based upon the lower market rates in various areas of the country.

Use Flexible Talent to Validate the Need for FTEs

Many law departments already use high-end contract attorneys during hiring freezes when they do not have approval to fill a vacancy. But flexible talent also may be used to test and verify the need for creating a new full-time position. For example, perhaps your company has recently acquired a business. Before you add permanent headcount to your existing team, utilize flexible talent to service that new business. You then will be able to determine whether another FTE is necessary and cost-effective. You may be able to save money by continuing to use flexible talent on a full-time or reduced-hour basis.

Originally printed in the 14th Annual Law Department Operations Survey Report. Download the report at

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