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Escaping the ‘Fire-Hire’ Roundabout

June 13, 2023

Staffing flexible staffing best practice

The current shift in the market for legal services from stable to unstable can force general counsels and managing partners into time-consuming and stressful cycles of downsizing and accelerated rehiring to calibrate staffing with changing conditions. Partnering with the right flexible staffing provider allows a law organisation to minimise the impact of changing budgets on the ability to support the business, institutional knowledge and staff – but with numerous flex providers to select from, how should you pick one?

Too often, decision-makers focus on price. As our Elevate colleague Dan Lomax noted earlier this month in his post ‘Four Steps to Staffing Legal Teams Right,’ when obtaining legal talent, leaders should instead assess value. The same holds true when partnering with a flex provider. Concentrating on value is especially important in selecting a flex provider because the greatest value of partnering is seen over the medium-term and beyond.

Several considerations are crucial:

Customisation Experience. No two staffing situations are identical. Be wary of providers with one-size-fits-all approaches. Success requires working with staffing professionals with robust experience tailoring solutions to address specific staffing challenges. Otherwise, you will be captive to a staffing firm’s crawl up the learning curve.

Retention and Conversion Know-How. Many staffing agencies tout their ability to source legal professionals during stable or growing demand for legal services. Few, however, have navigated unstable market conditions or understand how to help an organisation with frozen or shrinking budgets or headcount restrictions. Providing talent is only one piece of the puzzle. Skill at retaining crucial expertise in the face of significant constraints is often just as – or more – important. Look for a flex provider adept at helping convert full-time employees into consultants and secondees.

Bench Depth. A flex provider’s value is directly proportional to its stable of suitable legal professionals. The depth of a provider’s bench also determines how quickly you can scale. The greater your need for subject matter expertise, the more critical it is to partner with a flex provider with a global, vetted, and extensive network of legal professionals.

‘Beyond the Law’ Awareness. Subject-matter expertise is necessary but not sufficient when selecting legal talent. ‘Fit’ is often the decisive factor in a legal professional’s value-add. Look for a flex provider with talent managers attuned to your organisation’s values and culture. They can connect you with talent that has both the expertise you need and the adaptability required.

Legal staffing must align with an organisation’s legal, business, and strategic needs and fiscal circumstances. In uncertain times, achieving this alignment requires leveraging the abilities of a flex provider with a deep understanding of business requirements and objectives, extensive experience, and a network of talent that meets your unique needs. Only a flex provider with that combination can provide immediate value from day one forward as your needs evolve.

Partnering with the right flexible staffing provider minimises the impact of budget constraints on law departments and law firms – but with numerous flex providers to select from, how should you pick one?

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