Business of Law

Data Driven Staffing Decisions for Law Firms

By Talitha Gray Kozlowski
September 18, 2018

The 2017 Altman Weil Survey titled “Law Firms in Transition” discusses the growing use of contract lawyers to combat the oversupply of lawyers, the decreasing demand for legal services, and the mounting challenges facing the business of law.[1]  The survey reports that:

Firms are using contract lawyers, staff lawyers and part-time lawyers in an effort to mitigate costs and improve efficiency and profitability.  The stigma about the quality of contract lawyer work is gone in most firms, in our experience, and clients find such strategies to be acceptable if not preferable.

Half of all law firms in the 2017 survey said they have significantly changed their staffing strategy since the recession.  The use of contract lawyers is the top staffing tactic firms are pursing and the most effective lawyer staffing technique….

The use of contract lawyers allows firms to flex up and down in response to demand fluctuations without increasing overhead.  A firm that has addressed the issue of underperformance and identified a cohesive and productive core partnership should certainly add contract lawyers to its toolkit if it has not already done so.[2]

The 2017 Survey establishes the many benefits of using contract lawyers and paraprofessionals, citing that:

  • 57.1% of the law firms reported that they have begun using contract lawyers, 52.7% reported using part-time lawyers, and 6.6% reported outsourcing legal work;[3]
  • 58.5% of the law firms reported that using contract lawyers “resulted in significant improvement in firm performance,” with 26.4% reporting that it was too soon to tell, and only 15% reporting that the use of contract lawyers had not resulted in “significant improvement in firm performance;[4] 
  • 58.1% of the surveyed law firms that reported that they have shifted work to contract lawyers and paraprofessionals reported that it “resulted in significant improvement in profitability” with 30.5% reporting that it was too soon to tell, and only 11.4% reporting that it did not “significantly” improve the firm’s profitability;[5] and
  • 69% of the law firms reported that shifting work to contract/temporary lawyers “resulted in significant improvement in firm performance.”[6]

The data shows that hiring freelance lawyers can improve firm performance and profitability.  With LAWCLERK, you can tap into our nationwide network of freelance lawyers to get the right legal talent when and how you need it.  There are no sign up fees and no monthly fees.  You only pay the flat fee price that you set when you post work to the marketplace and hire a freelance lawyer – we call them Lawclerks.  Learn more today a 


[1] Thomas S. Clay and Eric A. Seeger, 2017 Law Firms in Transition, an Altman Weil Flash Survey (May 2017), available at www.altmanweil.com/LFiT2017.

[2] Id. at p. iii.

[3] Id. at p. 33.

[4] Id. at 34.

[5] Id. at p. 26.

[6] Id. at p. 57.

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