The National Law Journal reports that as of mid-January there was a 20 percent decline in applicants for seats in American Bar Association-accredited law schools, and the AM Law Daily speaks of the recent British law firm lay-offs and poses the question: Will U.S. firms be next? From massive firm lay-offs and talks of restructuring legal departments to an immense decline in the number of law school applicants, the handwriting is definitely on the wall – the legal industry is changing. So I ask you: Are you prepared to change with it? Are you ready for the new “normal”? While it can be difficult to determine what to do in this new market, it is crucial that you explore creative solutions and determine which options will best suit your goals, personality and skill set. There are many options, but doing nothing isn’t one of them (check out our blog post to learn why).
An up-and-coming trend you may want to consider with endless rewards and possibilities is contract work. An independent contractor (IC), as it relates to the legal industry, is a lawyer who, instead of being a salaried employee with a particular law firm, is “contracted” to work on particular cases or for a designated time period for one or several law firms. Working as a contract attorney could be your safety net until you determine which direction you’d like to go in your career.
You are only as good as the people you know in today’s job market. One of the benefits of contract work is that it provides you the opportunity to make connections and get your foot in the door of many notable firms. Making these connections with recruitment coordinators and partners may be just what it takes to give you an edge when it comes time to recruit new lawyers. It doesn’t hurt that the employer gets to see a few samples of your legal work, either.
Besides helping you make connections, another perk contract work offers is flexibility. You control how much time you spend working on projects and how many projects you take on. Contract work can be used to supplement the income you are already receiving at your current firm or you can make a full-time job of it. It is also flexible in that it allows you to work on projects from any location – the office, from home, the hotel while on vacation or while visiting your mother.
You may be thinking, “OK, I’m listening. So how do I even get started working on projects for these law firms?” Fortunately, I have the answer for that. GLI/Global Legal Recruiting network has a sister company called GTS that has potential projects in 30 different locations in the U.S. as well as in more than 77 countries, which means we anticipate a continuous, steady stream of interesting projects. If you are interested in working on projects or have any questions regarding available opportunities or contract work in general, I would be happy to be of assistance. The legal world is changing – wouldn’t it be more savvy if, instead of getting wiped out by the title wave, to instead be prepared to ride the wave in the sea of change. Isn’t it great to have choices!