Rising demand for contract lawyers and ad hoc consultants

Contract management handshake

The notion of working as a contractor or a flexible consultant is not a new one, but it is certainly one that has gained even more traction and interest with clients and candidates in the last year and a half since the pandemic hit.

Clients will look to engage lawyers on an interim, contract or ad hoc consultancy basis in order to scale up a team on a large deal or matter; find a suitable pool of secondees for a client; bring in niche expertise for a discrete project; cover a period of absence; to alleviate strain on a team whilst a permanent recruit is sourced or to provide ad hoc assistance on a case-by-case basis.

Lawyers will have their own personal motivating factors for moving into the contracting and consulting market, but some frequent scenarios we hear include:

  • “I enjoy the variety the contracting market provides. I experience different firms, varying sectors, cultures, and work with different clients. It also enables me to build a wider network”.
  • “I had served my time in the traditional ‘employed model’ and was a Partner for some years. I wanted a change but still thoroughly enjoyed the stimulating work I was involved in and was not ready to give up the law”.
  • “The skills I have acquired throughout my career enable me to quickly assimilate myself within a new team and pick up a caseload without much/any supervision and there is a demand for this in the market. I continue to work on high level, complex work and assist the firm/business in covering an internal need”.
  • “I wanted to gain more of a work/life balance and have greater control over my career. I can accept a 6-12 month contract and once that has completed, choose to take some time out before lining up my next contract to spend time with family”.
  • “I have relocated to the UK on a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa and want to contract for my duration in the UK to explore a variety of different firms and working cultures”.
  • “I realised that I did not want to pursue partnership and wanted/needed a change, but still desired to be involved in high calibre work”.
  • “I enjoy working on project-based work and contracting enables me to do this”.
  • “It is a great opportunity to really get to know the firm, the team, the nature of the work and whether they would be a viable option for me on a permanent basis should the prospect arise”.
  • “I have my own consultancy servicing my own client base but have further capacity for additional work alongside this”.

Over the last year and a half, we have seen an increase in lawyers reviewing their priorities and looking to make a shift for a positive work life balance. We have also seen a wave of new firms and businesses entering the market and utilising contractors and ad hoc consultants more readily.

The skillsets we have seen a demand for have included corporate; commercial litigation; banking & finance; real estate finance; property litigation; corporate energy; business immigration; employment; tax; intellectual property; general commercial; data protection; construction (both contentious and non-contentious); high net worth private client; high net worth residential property; commercial real estate and regulatory and compliance.

It’s an exciting landscape out there and one which presents far more opportunities with a diverse range of platforms than we have seen in previous years.

Jameson Contract Solutions (JCS) is a division of the award-winning international recruitment company, Jameson Legal, dedicated to supporting leading law firms, legal service providers and in house businesses in securing high quality, flexible legal professionals on an interim, contract or ad hoc consultancy basis.

For a more in-depth conversation or to discuss your next move/your teams’ interim and consulting hiring plans, please get in touch with Jennifer Pike (Associate Director and Head of Jameson Contract Solutions) on jennifer.pike@jamesonlegal.com and Eva Lopez (Consultant) on eva.lopez@jamesonlegal.com