Traditionally, legal departments have consisted of permanent employees with minimal or no use of interim lawyers. However, over the past six to eight years we have observed a significant increase in the number of legal departments experiencing the benefits of hiring lawyers on an interim basis and also the number of legal professionals choosing interim work as a career path.
Lawyers choosing to work on an interim basis do so for a number of reasons; seeking to work in different industries, enjoying greater control over their working life, and a much wider variety of organisations to work for. The majority of lawyers are typically on a three-month notice period or longer, so trying to juggle their everyday workload with interviewing and securing their next role is challenging, hence why we are seeing an increase in lawyers resigning before they have secured their next role, giving them more flexibility to research and interview.
This is where the interim market is ideal. Roles are always available, immediate start dates are commonplace, remuneration is highly competitive, and the candidate has a greater opportunity to experience a flexible work-life balance.
Having worked in the legal recruitment market for more than eight years, I have met with an increasing number of legal professionals who understand the benefit of working on a temporary/interim basis. The last two years, in particular, have seen a significant increase in activity in the interim market. Lawyers realise that future employers won’t disregard their job application if their cv doesn’t flow perfectly with permanent jobs and no time off in-between roles. This is because employers recognise the immediate impact someone may have, based on their experience as opposed to waiting several months for someone to work their notice period beforehand.
A greater number of legal professionals are working interim roles while considering their next permanent opportunity, in order to understand what it’s like to work at different companies and experience different working cultures.
This is a great way to enhance skills which, in turn, opens up more opportunities on both an interim and a permanent basis. Each business has a unique culture and work processes, so working for various companies can help someone working on an interim basis to realise their working preferences which, in turn, can assist when looking for a permanent opportunity.
I have also seen many legal professionals make interim work their full-time career; two of the main reasons for this are the variety of different industries that become available and the control it gives you around your working life.
The interim market for legal professionals is currently thriving within both commerce and industry and financial services, and we expect this to continue for at least the first half of 2017. With the economic uncertainties caused by the impending triggering of article 50 by the UK government, many companies are hiring interim legal professionals rather than fully committing to full-time employees.