Whether for maternity cover, project based work, extra support, or to cover the gap in a permanent recruitment process, there’s no denying that interim and contract hiring is rapidly becoming the darling of the legal recruitment world. When I first started recruiting interim lawyers 16 years ago, there was an unfair perception that being a contractor or interim lawyer wasn’t a viable long-term career choice. People questioned why lawyers would want to be outside of private practice or a permanent in-house role. However with the rise in alternative legal services models for law firms, there has been a notable shift in the perceived value and status of contract and interim lawyers.
Lawyers are now seeking out roles in the contractor market and intentionally opting into it, for legitimate reasons. The perceived value has gone up massively and clients now recognise that contractors can add real value to their teams and provide a no grief solution. Interim lawyers can provide the answer to an immediate problem and are able to hit the ground running with minimal to no training.
It’s fair to say that the interim legal recruitment market whilst busier than ever does not come without it’s own challenges. Most recently we have seen a greater shift towards fixed term contracts over day rate/ temporary contracts. Largely due to the changes to the IR35 rules we are seeing the pool of contractors decreasing. The candidates we would previously see over and over again are now joining the permanent market which means that there are fewer candidates available whilst the need for interim lawyers is greater than ever.
There is no denying that the permanent recruitment market has got harder since the pandemic. Fewer people are changing jobs and finding the right person for a permanent position is often taking upwards of three to six months. This has led our clients to think more creatively about how to manage things. As a result we have seen an increase in instructions for an interim hire to bridge the gap and take pressure off. More and more clients are coming to us for interim cover to provide extra support during the recruitment process. What we’re also seeing is that clients are getting quicker and more savvy at moving the interim and contract recruitment process along. In addition, we’re seeing that contract roles are now frequently open to flexibility in working patterns, salary structures and hours. Clients realise that the best candidates are likely to have multiple offers on the table and, if they want them, they’re going to have to move like lightning.
Due to the reduction in availability of interim lawyers, coupled with the complexities of permanent hiring and the increase in demand for interim lawyers, we are seeing a ‘contractors’ marketplace and have seen a significant growth in the number of clients introducing contract completion bonuses, designed to encourage contractors to stay to the very end, rather than seeking out their next opportunity as contracts start to wrap up.
For more information about our work in the interim legal recruitment space please contact us directly.