Life as an interim lawyer

While much media attention has been afforded to the increased use of so-called ‘gig’ workers within the legal sector, there is one role that has been relatively ignored yet is growing in demand and that is the role of the interim lawyer.

Despite a relatively strong economy and year-on-year growth within the legal sector itself, cost pressures and the need to achieve greater efficiencies continue to influence hiring decisions within many law firms.

But the demand isn’t just being fuelled by the need to streamline operations or to bridge any gaps that exist, the remit of the interim lawyer has taken on more of an elevated role in recent years.

In the past, interim lawyers were primarily drafted in to work on specific projects or to play a supporting role during peak periods that needed an additional pair of hands. Today, law firms are far more receptive to the opportunities and the flexibility that interim lawyers can offer than ever before, and there are no signs that this will change any time soon.

Indeed, interim lawyers are increasingly sought after to provide support during periods of merger and acquisition, regulatory changes or litigious matters that may be affecting business operations, and when a firm needs a flexible working solution or is unsure whether they need a permanent lawyer or not.

Whatever the reason, the demand for interim lawyers continues to rise, as does the number of lawyers seeking to perform these roles. So could an interim role be right for you and your career?

Here we take a look at a few reasons why life as an interim lawyer could work for you:

Opportunities exist across the entire legal sector:

Interim roles can be found in all law firms, from Magic Circle and in-house to smaller regional practices and public services. While their initial demand will invariably be to hire an interim on a temporary contract, many employers will consider the possibility of the role becoming permanent. This gives both parties the opportunity to work together before making a longer-term commitment to one another.

Variety of roles:

Interims are drafted in to perform a number of key roles, ranging from disclosure or due diligence exercises for an M & A transaction, to supporting a start-up law firm that needs a team of associates on a temporary basis to help get their new venture off the ground in the early days.

Higher potential earnings:

How much you earn will largely depend on a range of variables, including your areas of specialisation and whether you choose to work in private practice or in-house (pay rates tend to be higher with the latter). Interims tend to benefit from being paid an hourly rate rather than an equivalent salary rate, which can often mean taking home more than you permanent colleagues when any overtime work is taken into consideration.

Work-life balance:

If returning to work after an absence, such as maternity or sabbaticals as well as those who have taken redundancy, taking an interim role could be a great way to re-enter the job market. It can also give you the freedom to choose where and how you work and enable you to achieve that magical – and often elusive – work life balance.

Easier to secure contract work:

For foreign-qualified lawyers who are new to the UK and need an immediate income, an interim role may be the ideal solution. It can be a great way to get your proverbial foot in the door and gain invaluable experience of working in a UK practice.

Try before you buy:

As an interim you are not locked into a long-term contract with the firm, which means that you can continue to explore the market to find the perfect permanent opportunity for you. Many lawyers end up staying with an employer that they initially joined on an interim basis, having benefitted from spending a few weeks or months working there and getting a good feel for the culture of the organisation and how their personal career aspirations may be realised.

 

Working as an interim lawyer can be exciting and equally challenging. It can provide you with flexibility you wouldn’t get in a permanent role and it can offer a variety of roles across a range of different sized businesses.

Add the fact that demand for interim lawyers continues to rise to the equation, and it is easy to see why life as an interim is an attractive proposition for many lawyers, irrespective of what stage they are at in their careers.

If you think this may be a career choice for you if you are an employer thinking of hiring an interim lawyer, contact us and let us help you find what you are looking for.