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Many businesses are still struggling from the impact of the 2008 recession and housing market crash, therefore they are hiring more temporary staff, including temporary lawyers employed by general counsel. This new layer of the legal profession has done nothing more than demonstrate how post-recession belt-tightening has permanently affected certain professions.

Managing Temporary Attorneys
During and after the downturn, legal departments are more economically conservative about returning to pre-recession levels, instead taking use of the availability of experienced contract or temporary lawyers to react more effectively to the natural ebbs and flows in workflow needs. The option to grow and contract the general counsel personnel simply enables more cost management, which leads to increased profitability.

Legal process outsourcing, or LPO, businesses have stepped up their game by using technology and lower-cost attorneys, just as corporations have begun to seek a break from exorbitant billable hours. According to consultancy company Deloitte, the LPO industry’s revenues are expected to treble between 2011 and 2014. Contract legal employment is now considered the norm, with employees earning the same salary as mid-level associates in midsize firms β€” between $52,000 and $70,000 per year. In the grand scheme of things, this is a good thing since the legal industry’s revenue growth in 2012 was pitiful. 5 percent, and the figures for 2013 seem to be similar.

Growing need for electronic document review and discovery has created possibilities for temporary lawyers, particularly those adept in technology-assisted reviews and those fluent in many languages. The demise of traditional law firms, as well as questions about General Counsel ROI, have demonstrated that the more ways companies can use temporary attorneys in an optimal manner, the more likely they will be to avoid long-term, expensive contracts while still having the legal counsel they require.

Managing a team of temporary lawyers, on the other hand, is a different beast, and doing it properly requires enforcing certain principles and standards that may be unfamiliar to general counsel. Consider the following suggestions for managing temporary, contract, or part-time lawyers without going insane in the process.

1. Recruit specifically β€” not broadly – and reach out to talent across age groupings.

To accomplish good recruitment, you must be explicit and thorough about your requirements in the job description. Describe the setting, the nature of the task, the projected completion time, and the tools and programmes that will be utilised in detail.

Do not hire a generalist when a specialist is available, and always seek talent from many generations. In an ideal scenario, employing a temporary attorney entails obtaining access to talents and knowledge you don’t presently have and need – even if just temporarily – for a particular purpose.

Hiring professionals with the specific expertise you want has a high value. Hiring across age ranges is also advantageous. Their business style may encourage other staff, and they may better connect to your clientele; in any case, you’ll never know if you don’t take the chance.

2. Establish clear responsibilities and expectations from the outset.

Many temporary and contract employees are not chosen to be transitory, but they provide a broad variety of valuable talents, knowledge, and experience – frequently exactly what you need, when you need it. While you have no clue why they accepted the post, you can be assured that clarifying the responsibilities and expectations will help you prevent future misunderstandings.

Take extra care to underline the job for which they are being employed, what they are expected to do, and how long it will take. Setting expectations from the start covers everything from work hours to the chain of command to the code of behaviour. Finally, just because an employee hasn’t been with you for a long time doesn’t imply you should treat them any differently than a regular employee.

3. Be wary of any conflicts of interest.

It might be difficult to find a skilled, experienced attorney who can effortlessly fill your interim general counsel job, but don’t ignore possible conflicts of interest. Particularly when secrecy and security are sought. A temporary lawyer who conducts work for a client represents that client for the purpose of establishing if a conflict exists. As a result, the temporary lawyer and hiring law firm must follow strict guidelines on conflicts of interest affecting current and past clients.

Examine the temporary attorney’s background and experience carefully, and explicitly inquire about any conflicts of interest during the interview. Finally, whether a temporary lawyer is viewed as being linked with a corporation while working on an issue for that company is determined by the extent of access the lawyer had to material and whether that information was improperly disclosed or misused in relation to other clients.

4. Consider giving the client notice.

Many ethical groups and state bar associations have made differences between temporary attorneys who work on a client’s case, even if they are directly overseen by general counsel. Whether or not the company’s general counsel is obligated to advise its clients that a temporary attorney is working with the general counsel team is usually determined by how closely the temporary attorney is overseen and whether or not they have access to secret information.

The Georgia State Bar rejected such distinctions in at least one opinion (Formal Opinion 05-9) and observed that if a “client reasonably assumes that only attorneys within the firm are doing work on that client’s case, and thus, a client should be informed that the firm is using temporary attorneys to do the client’s work,”

Furthermore, it is usually considered that if the temporary lawyer’s expenses are to be passed on to outside clients, the client must be notified and agree to the arrangement. As a result, it’s usually suggested that when a temporary attorney is working on legal work linked to a client’s company, it’s preferable to be upfront about it.

5. Give proper credit when credit is due.

Many temporary workers go from temp to permanent employment, but if that isn’t feasible, you may offer a strong recommendation and suggest them to other temporary positions.

Referrals are often the greatest method for a temporary attorney to gain additional work, and you will only benefit yourself in the long term since helping them get future business implies they will be open to subsequently work for you when you need it. Plus, you never know when you could wind yourself working for your temporary! Stranger occurrences have occurred.