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Attorney FAQs - Temporary Positions and Staffing Options

If you are looking for the next big thing, find yourself out of work, or simply are looking for a less permanent legal position, you might try looking into temporary staffing agencies or programs. Before you do, however, let’s go over some FAQs.

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Attorney FAQs - Temporary Positions and Staffing Options

What is a legal staffing agency? 

A legal staffing agency provides temporary and/or permanent employees to businesses. In the legal world, the buyer is often a corporate legal department or a law firm in need of personnel to handle a specific project, an employee absence, or another unexpected workload increase. 

Where do I find temporary placement programs for legal professionals?

There are several placing and staffing agency options available for legal professionals. Legal.io works to build a community of like-minded individuals and firms who are both looking and offering full and part-time work. Get in touch with us today! 

Is it a good or bad idea to sign up with multiple staffing services?

It’s always a good idea to expand your network of those working to help you find a temporary position. The only challenge involved in this process is organizing yourself for multiple offers and assignments. Make sure you choose agencies you can have mutually beneficial relationships with to help build your chances of securing meaningful work.

What is the difference from agency to agency? What sort of things should I look for in a staffing agency?

As a job seeker, finding an agency should revolve around both the quality and the quantity of work available. If an agency has a plethora of opportunities for you, you are more likely to be placed. Typically, larger agencies will have a larger assortment of jobs, but don’t rule out smaller agencies! Ask them how they work with you to place you in positions. Sometimes, smaller agencies will have fewer jobs available but will work with you to find the right temporary positions for you and your career.

Keep in mind: some agencies may have higher standards for work experience and will only want to take on lawyers who meet certain criteria.

Above all, make sure the agency you choose is confident in your abilities and has a process you can trust. Specifically, that they ask for your permission before submitting your resume and interest for a position (some firms prefer to find candidates on their own to save on placement fees and you don’t want to lose out on a position for that reason!).

Because the landscape of the legal world is changing dramatically, some firms are now offering more alternative opportunities such as remote work, or virtual firms, giving you the chance to try on working from home. Take some time to think about what this means for you and your career choices. If you are more experienced in the legal world, there also might be office hour flexibility; giving you a chance to set your own hours outside of the standard 40-hour workweek.

How does my background affect my opportunities for temporary placement?

An agency wants to place legal workers based on law firms and company criteria. These firms typically look for lawyers who are experienced in the type of work they need and sometimes prefer only licensed candidates. When you submit your interest in working with an agency, they will invariably look through your background, culture preferences and professional style to see if you are a good fit with a firm. 

It’s always a good idea to ‘look and act the part’ when meeting with a recruiter to establish both who you are and the type of work you’re looking for. Take some time to think about specifics; Are you willing to work for a non-profit organization? Do you have corporate firm experience? And find a way to convey these attributes in your meeting.

How do I balance interviews when I have a temporary position?

Agencies will work with your schedule and limitations during an assignment to help you transition to your next placement. Make sure you give the agency and your temporary employer as much notice as possible when a meeting comes up.

What is the rate for temporary work? Can I negotiate?

Just as with attorneys in firms, hourly rates tend to vary quite widely depending on the specific skills required, the location of the employer and the experience of the candidate. Experienced candidates working on longer-term staffing engagements can see annualized salaries of over $200,000. Hourly rates for project-based work tend to float around $200/hour for senior profiles. 

Rates tend to be much lower for non-attorney profiles, and there’s plenty of horror stories of recent grads with little to no experience in document review finding themselves paid $20 - $35 per hour. Experience is always a factor in pay. Language proficiency, and other outstanding skills should be communicated to the agency so they can place you in both the firm and the pay rate you are looking for.

You can try to negotiate if you feel that the rate is below market, but know that the staffing agency is often constrained by the budget set by the client. Try to have a transparent conversation so you understand these limitations and can get to the best outcome. 

Are health benefits available with staffing agency services?

The larger agencies provide health benefits with placements (although these are usually reserved for candidates who have worked with them long-term). It’s important to ask an agency about their health benefits policies.

I’m looking primarily for work from home assignments. Is this typical of a staffing agency?

As mentioned earlier, although an agency’s clients are changing their working environments in favor of virtual and WFH, it is still not a common setup in the legal industry. Something else to keep in mind is experience level. The more experienced a legal professional you are, the more likely you will be extended an offer to WFH. 

Will temporary work make it harder for me to get long-term and permanent positions later? And how should I talk about temporary positions on my resume?

Taking a break from your career to do temporary work (or when you are just starting out) won’t hurt your chances of long-term employment in the future so long as the assignments you pick are in line with your career goals. 

Presenting your temporary positions on your resume is all about separating your full-time work from your temporary. Have a different resume for each and organize your temporary resume to focus on the relevant skill sets and experience rather than less applicable notes (as it pertains to the position at hand). Don’t forget to use your network for advice and revision! Talk to other attorneys, career counselors and mentors.