Unlocking the Value: Why General Counsel and Law Firm Partners Should Consider Contract-to-Hire as a Model for Hiring


In the ever-evolving landscape of legal practice, hiring managers—particularly law firm partners and general counsel—are constantly challenged to find the right talent to meet their department’s needs. Amidst these challenges, one often overlooked solution stands out: hiring contract-to-hire attorneys. Despite being underutilized in some circles, contract-to-hire attorneys offer myriad benefits that can significantly enhance a legal team's effectiveness and efficiency.

Immediate Availability

First and foremost, contract-to-hire attorneys provide hiring managers with the invaluable advantage of immediate availability. Unlike traditional hires who typically require lengthy notice periods before starting a new position, contract-to-hire attorneys are ready to hit the ground running from the day you need them. This immediate availability ensures that crucial positions can be filled without the delays often associated with traditional hiring processes, enabling legal teams to maintain productivity and momentum.


Contract-to-hire arrangements provide flexibility to an organization. An attorney can be brought in to address specialized and nuance matters, staff new projects, complement existing teams for specific matters or cover lengthy FMLA scenarios. This adaptability allows legal departments to respond to changing needs without committing overhead to permanent positions. Contract-to-hire attorneys are also often open to less than full-time roles, giving legal teams the latitude to stay within budget.


Contract-to-hire attorneys often come with lower overhead costs. Organizations don’t need to provide the same benefits (such as health insurance and retirement plans which can be covered by the contract attorney’s ASLP employer) as they would for permanent employees. These cost savings can be significant.

Often, contract-to-hire attorneys are open to a broader target salary range, which can be beneficial to organizations with lower salary positions. This flexibility can be advantageous for hiring managers operating within budget constraints, as it allows them to potentially secure top talent at a more affordable rate.

Diverse Experiences

Contract legal work exposes professionals to a variety of matters, practice areas and legal issues. This diversity enhances their skill set and broadens their expertise, making them more valuable contributors in the long run.

Talent Pool Expansion

Choosing to hire on a temp-to-perm basis allows organizations to tap into a wider talent pool. They can bring in attorneys with niche experience or unique skills for specific projects, even if those skills aren’t readily available in their permanent workforce or in the individuals currently in permanent jobs and looking. This approach not only increases the likelihood of finding the right fit but also allows for greater specialization in talent selection, catering to specific organizational needs and goals.

Reduced Administrative Burden

Contract-to-hire attorneys are managed by the legal services provider they are hired through, which means they will handle administrative tasks like payroll, benefits and compliance. This frees up internal resources and streamlines the hiring process.

Culture Fit

The contract-to-hire attorney hiring model allows both the attorney and hiring team to assess cultural fit. During the contract period, both parties have the opportunity to gauge compatibility and ensure alignment with the organization's values and objectives. This emphasis on cultural fit is crucial for fostering a harmonious and productive work environment, ultimately contributing to the success of the legal team as a whole.

Contract-to-hire arrangements also allow law firms and legal departments to “try before they buy.” By initially hiring attorneys on a contract basis, organizations can assess their culture and competency fit, skills and performance before making a long-term commitment. This reduces the risk of hiring someone who may not be a good fit for the team or the organization.

Use Case for Hiring

Contract-to-hire attorney arrangements also offer hiring managers the strategic advantage of gathering evidence to justify additional headcount. By observing the performance and impact of contract attorneys during the temporary period, clients can gather valuable data to support the need for permanent staffing solutions. This evidence-based approach ensures that hiring decisions are grounded in empirical observations, minimizing the risk of overstaffing or underutilization of resources.

Shifting Needs

Furthermore, contract arrangements allow for the evolution of position descriptions over time. In a dynamic legal environment, where priorities and requirements may shift unexpectedly, being able to bring in contract attorneys with the skill sets and expertise that match the evolving roles is invaluable. Hiring managers can leverage this adaptability to ensure that their teams remain agile and responsive to their changing organizational needs.

Beyond their adaptability, contract attorneys bring unique specialties and prior training to the table, enhancing team dynamics and project outcomes. Whether it's a niche area of law or specialized skill set, contract attorneys offer a level of expertise that can complement existing team members and elevate the overall quality of legal services provided.

The benefits of hiring contract-to-hire attorneys for law firms and in-house legal departments are undeniable. From immediate availability and flexible salary ranges to enhanced cultural fit and access to specialized expertise, contract-to-hire attorneys offer a strategic solution to the challenges facing modern legal teams. By incorporating contract-to-hire talent into their staffing plans, hiring managers can unlock untapped value and position their organizations for success in today's competitive legal landscape.


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