Help on the Way by homers

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          Help on the Way
          Using Temporary Lawyers Yields Many Benefits
          BY HENRY J. MACCHIAROLI, CLM




          In the competitive market of cost containment and dwindling profit mar-
          gins, many law firms and corporate departments are considering the use
          of temporary lawyers, who can help to control costs and enhance profits.
              The key challenges facing law firms during the past few years have
          been the “bottom line,” emphasizing profitability and financial leverage,
          client satisfaction and attracting and retaining quality lawyers. Firms want
          to manage growth, improve client service, enhance permanent lawyer
          development and handle client demands, which is why perception of the
          temporary lawyer is evolving. In the early 1990s, many firms saw a
          downside of economic activity. With the business turnaround, demands
          also increased, as many temporary lawyers were hired to leverage the
          workloads and help to lessen the burdens on permanent lawyers.
              A proficient temporary lawyer typically provides consistent, high-quality    An experienced
          work product on specific or general projects for law firms, solo
          practitioners and law departments. With the dawn of life balance,                temporary lawyer
          alternative work schedules and multiple revenue streams, many excellent
          lawyers choose to work temporarily.
                                                                                           can help a firm with
              Who are these proficient temporary lawyers? Consider the new JD who          increased workload
          did well in law school, but would like to explore different practice areas and
          work environments and is willing to put in long hours. Most common is the        and overworked
          seasoned lawyer who took some time off to care for his or her child. Being
          a temporary lawyer is a great way to phase back into the legal profession.
                                                                                           permanent lawyers.
          Meanwhile, there are semi-retired solo proprietors who enjoy project
          work, as well as professional temporary lawyers who appreciate intellectual
          challenges, professional independence, control over the type and number
          of hours worked and the freedom from the bureaucracy and politics of
          permanent employment.
              Known by various names such as Project Lawyers, Contract Lawyers,
          Per Diem, Ad Hoc, Interim, Consultants or Leased, temporary attorneys
          enable a firm to manage an increase in workload without the stigma of
          adding to the staff head count. In some instances, they are less expensive
          for a client than using outside counsel. They may work on projects – for
          several hours or even several months – and are usually paid on an hourly,
          non-salaried basis. A temporary lawyer may work for one or many firms
          and may work on single or multiple matters.
              An experienced temporary lawyer can help a firm with increased
          workload and overworked permanent lawyers. In this regard, other
          matters won’t be neglected, with staff available to handle and manage
          administrative matters, conferences and staff training, performance
          reviews, vacation and parental leave. Also keep in mind that sometimes
          a firm needs a specialty lawyer when no one is available on staff to
          handle a unique assignment.

52   LEGAL MANAGEMENT   NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2006
 BIGIDEAS


                           Henry J. Macchiaroli, CLM, Senior Vice President, ELAINE P DINE TEMPORARY ATTORNEYS AND PARALEGALS
                                                                                     .


          Engaging proficient temporary lawyers simply makes good
          business sense for law firms, legal departments and their clients.
          They help to manage growth, improve client service, enhance
          permanent lawyer development and handle client demands.

          Some firms are hiring temporary lawyers as staff                 Temporary lawyers are subject to the same ethical
          lawyers, who are on payroll and share in the firm’s          rules as permanent ones. They are obliged to protect
          benefits, but are not on a regular associate or partner      confidential information learned in the course of repre-
          track. They are utilized for litigation support purposes     sentation, and real and potential conflicts of interest
          and give regular lawyers opportunities to better             should be addressed. A complete record indicating
          manage their legal work.                                     clients and matters worked should be maintained by
              Some temporary lawyers serve as experts in particu-      the hiring firm and the temporary lawyer.
          lar practice areas, and many smaller firms choose to hire        Experts also recommend that law firms and
          temporary lawyers on a temp-to-perm basis, consulting        legal departments communicate with temporary
          as trainers to permanent lawyers. They want to ensure        lawyers on expectations, work hours, agendas and
          there is a good fit, as hiring mistakes can cost them con-   deadlines. Provide orientation to them as you would
          siderable time and money. Using temporary attorneys is       to new associates. Introduce them to office staff
          a great way to evaluate lawyers with little risk.            and familiarize them with office procedures, billing
          Some firms use temporary lawyers on a per-diem               requirements and work product procedures. Making
          basis. They lack the budget for a permanent lawyer,          them part of your organization’s staffing plan reaps
          and there is not enough work to justify a full-time          many benefits.
          lawyer. Also, many firms use temporary lawyers to                Engaging proficient temporary lawyers simply
          cover disability or family leaves, ensuring consistent       makes good business sense for law firms, legal
          work flows.                                                  departments and their clients. They help to manage
              Firms and law departments that need to circumvent        growth, improve client service, enhance permanent
          headcount issues often will engage full-time temporary       lawyer development and handle client demands.
          lawyers. When hiring issues change, chances are that         They bring fresh talent and expertise to the legal
          they will have a tried-and-true temporary lawyer who         profession and help to sustain a firm’s financial
          could transition into a full-time permanent position.        well-being. With the increased focus on work-life
           Payroll and related benefit costs for the permanent         balance, alternative work schedules and multiple
          lawyer include high-market salaries, withholding and         revenue streams, many more excellent lawyers are
          payroll taxes, workers compensation, unemployment,           choosing to work temporarily, and firms’ reliance
          health, disability and life insurance, malpractice insur-    on them will only continue to grow. ❈
          ance, bonuses, 401(k) accounts, severance payments
          and CLE seminar fees. Other costs accompany recruit-         about the author
          ing, training, mentoring and evaluating employees.           Henry J. Macchiaroli, CLM, is the Senior Vice President
          Experts say it takes an average of 2.5 years for firms to    of Elaine P Dine Temporary Attorneys and Paralegals.
                                                                                   .
          realize profits on new lawyers.                              With more than 20 years of experience in the legal
              By using temporary lawyers, a firm or legal depart-      profession, Henry is a past President of ALA and a
          ment pays only for the actual hours worked and has           lifetime member of the Association’s New York City
          more control over scheduling. They can avoid morale          Chapter. Contact him at hmacchiaroli@epdine.com, or
          issues due to overworked and burned-out permanent            visit www.elainepdine.com for more information. The
          lawyers. They also will be able to handle the increased      original article from which this column is based was
          workload as compared to refusing new work or refer-          first published in the New York City Chapter’s newslet-
          ring it to another firm.                                     ter (New York, New York) in its July/August 2006 issue.

54   LEGAL MANAGEMENT   NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2006

								
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