5 Tips For Success With Temporary Legal Professionals For Your Legal Staff

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Working with a temporary legal professional has unique challenges. There are numerous considerations that may not apply to other types of employees when hiring a legal staff. The following tips will help you making your work with a temporary legal professional successful.

  • Plan exactly what you need from the temp
  • Know the types of temporary legal professionals and legal temp agencies
  • Understand the pros and cons of working with a temp
  • The Process for Bringing on The Temp and legal recruitment
  • Understand what the temp expects in taking the position

Know the types of temporary legal professionals

Different types of legal professionals provide varying types of legal temp work or bring varying types of knowledge to the legal staff. Generally, the breakdown of temporary legal professionals is as follows:

Attorney – An attorney will be well-versed in the various substantive aspects of the law. Attorneys may be generalists or specialists in a particular legal area.

Legal Researcher – These individuals are most similar to an attorney, with some notable differences. The legal researcher will have a strong understanding of the substantive law. She generally lacks experience with carrying out the procedural law matters. Further, she does not have the ability to represent the firm in legal matters as a licensed attorney can.

Paralegal – A paralegal generally focuses on the procedural aspects of law. They work in support of an attorney who focuses on the applicable substantive law. Paralegals may also have a general understanding of the substantive laws, but they are limited in their ability to represent the firm in legal matters.

Legal Secretary – A legal secretary has limited knowledge of procedural law and very little understanding of the substantive law. She rarely conducts any form of research or unilateral handle procedural aspects of a legal matter. She will focus on the administrative aspects of addressing a legal situation. She will generally work in support of attorneys and paralegals and be part of your legal staff.

Based upon your understanding of the strengths and ability of a particular legal professional, you can make the make a decision on the type of professional to employ.

Plan exactly what you need from the temp

Understanding the nature of the work to be completed or performed by the legal professional is essential. This will help you set expectations for performance and choose the appropriate professional to your legal staff. A temporary employee will not have the level of background information or prior knowledge of a full-time employee. As such, it is important to plan for the resources that the legal professional will need. Most notably, this will include an understanding of the operational process and points of contact for asking additional questions. It is highly advisable to assign the temp employee to undergo initial training on operational aspects and company structure.

Understand the pros and cons of working with a temp

The following are benefits of working with a temporary legal professional:

  • Lower cost
  • No long-term employment commitment
  • No or little obligation for employee benefits
  • Easier process for hiring and firing
  • Can employ more specialized individuals for temporary projects

The following are constraints of working with a legal professional:

  • Lack of prior knowledge about the company operations or processes
  • No long-term continuity of work or knowledge
  • Lower level of dependability from employee
  • Less vetting can lead to lower quality of employee work performance

Understanding these benefits and constraints will help in setting expectations of the employee.

The Process for Bringing on The Temp is Important

The process you use to bring the in a temporary legal professional is important. Options include:

  • Hiring an individual directly as an independent contractor.
  • Working with legal temp agencies

Hiring an individual directly requires the greatest amount of work and preparation. You must make certain that the work arrangement is fully documented in the form of a temporary work agreement. Negotiating the terms of temporary employment and documenting it appropriately can be filled with challenges for a non-legal firm. If you choose this option, it is important to work with a separate legal professional in preparing the temporary employee agreement. Working with a placement firm is by far the easiest process. They will have in place standard terms of agreement for bringing on the temporary employee. The downside of this relationship is that the cost of the employee is higher, as the placement firm will take a percentage of salary or a placement fee.

Understand what the temp expects in taking the position

Temporary employees may have a variety of aspirations for their employment with the company. Understanding these aspirations will help you to appropriately motivate or incentivize the employee. Temporary employee aspirations might include:

The Career Temp – This individual wishes to eternally serve as a temporary employee (likely part-time) in an organization. Ensuring this individual of the ongoing nature of the temporary position is a positive.

In-Transition Temp – This person is simply taking a temporary position on the road to other employment. This employee is truly temporary and is subject to quit at any time. If the position requires some level of continuity, this person may not be the best fit.

Extra-money Temp – This individual is taking the temporary position as a side job to support herself while working toward another job or career. This is very common with individuals starting their own businesses.

Aspirational Employee – This temporary employee seeks to become a permanent employee. She will seek to make herself indispensable. If the position is temporary in nature, this employee may not be satisfied with the position. If the position has the possibility of subsequent full-time employment, the aspirational employee is a very good choice.

LawTrades Knows Temp Employees

Bringing on a temporary employee is loaded with legal and operational considerations. LawTrades is your resource for understanding the process and the various considerations. We can help make your temporary employment experience successful.