The Great Resignation Hits Legal


Over the last year, news headlines about The Great Resignation have been inescapable.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, with fewer distractions available to them, workers in all fields have had more time to assess their priorities in life, including whether their jobs and employers truly work for them. Accordingly, in 2021, millions of American workers shed their jobs, moving on to new companies and sometimes new industries altogether.

The legal industry has not been immune to the effects of the trend. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that from August 2021 to December 2021, more than 700,000 people in the professional and business services category — which includes lawyers and other legal professionals — had quit their jobs each month.

In September, Bloomberg Law's Attorney Workload & Hours Survey reported that one in 10 lawyers said they were actively on the hunt for new job opportunities. An additional 38 percent of lawyers surveyed said they're open to job offers beyond their current employers.

Already, 2022 is showing strong job growth, which has further impact on hiring. In January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the addition of 1,800 jobs in the legal industry.

In addition to experiencing volatility in hiring and retention, law firms are also being squeezed on the other side by an increase in demand for legal services. A 2021 survey by Wells Fargo Private Bank's Legal Specialty Group showed that client demand for legal services is up 6.5 percent on average among 130 large and regional law firms polled.

Just as the future of the pandemic remains unclear, it is unclear just how long the volatility associated with The Great Resignation will continue to persist and influence the legal job market.

In the coming years, the industry is likely to get an assist from increasing law school admissions. As the pandemic wanes, it’s also likely that women’s participation in the workplace will also rebound.

In the meantime, it’s clear that law firms who need workers now are in a bit of a pinch.

One way for law firms to immediately plug in the gaps on their teams and continue to provide the level of legal services their clients need is to hire attorneys and other legal staffers on a contractual basis.

Contract attorneys are those serving on a temporary or as-needed basis. They can fill a wide variety of functions, ranging from providing subject matter expertise to supplementing staff attorneys and providing case management support on a particular matter.

Additionally, contract legal staffing services can recruit for:

  • Contract review
  • Drafting and negotiation
  • Due diligence
  • Deposition coverage
  • Interim coverage of a vacant position
  • Mock juries
  • Discrete projects
  • Document review
  • Discovery requests

Contract legal staffing agencies can help you hire contract attorneys and other legal staff who are the right fit for your firm.

In working with staffing agencies, it’s key that they factor in your firm’s culture, workload, practice and specialty areas as they work to identify, vet, and match you with an ideal candidate for a role.

Partnering with an agency doesn’t only pay off in terms of securing much-needed talent, it can also help firms save time and avoid stress and unnecessary spend in the process.

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