There are multiple ways to get help in your law firm, including with interns, employees, and independent contractors. Many law firm owners and lawyers are worried about the uncertainty that has defined the past two years. Plenty of businesses have had to adapt, seemingly overnight, to a new landscape of remote/hybrid work. It’s likely that more curveballs like that could influence the legal industry.
In times of uncertainty, such as the many changes from a global pandemic and a possible upcoming recession, look for ways to minimize your risks and get the most out of all your working relationships.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is by leveraging the power of independent contractors. Contractors and freelancers can serve your law firm in many ways, from providing paralegal services to virtual assistance help to copywriting and so much more. Here’s why this is the perfect time to revisit your independent contractor strategy.
Find Top Talent
Whether you want someone for website design, copywriting, paralegal, or admin support, you can greatly extend your talent pool by working with remote independent contractors. You’ll maximize your budget by casting a wide net for the right contractor to do the job, no matter where they live.
When you hire an employee, you’re making the best decision you can based off of their resume, references, and interview. That doesn’t always translate to a great on-the-job performance, which is something too many law firms have learned the hard way. Most contractors only stay in business because they have competitive offerings with great service and top-notch deliverables. Since contractors work with multiple clients and must stand out from their competition to make a living, you’re making an investment in working with someone that is low risk for you because it’s a short-term commitment. There’s tremendous upside for you if the contractor works out well at your firm, too.
More Flexible Working Arrangements
With contractors, you can stop and start projects as you need to. This helps with budget planning and in-house team management, too. You can get a range of quotes from contractors before making your decision about who to work with. If you no longer need someone on a certain project, you can cancel the contract quickly and easily.
When you choose to hire an independent contractor, you hire only for what you need. For an employee, you need to make sure you have enough work for them for the foreseeable future. That’s a big gamble when there’s so much uncertainty out there. If your project is somewhat small or doesn’t make enough sense for a part-time or full-time employee, it’s better off handed to a contractor.
Contractors are skilled and familiar with how to make the most of projects working with clients, too, so you’ll know you’ll be in good hands. A great contractor will come with experience working on many similar projects, so there’s a much higher chance that your work will be completed properly the first time around without a lot of hand-holding.
Imagine that you want to increase your social media presence. Once you decide this, you’ll probably map out what you’re looking for next. You might decide that you only need support for about five hours per week. That’s not enough work for a part-time employee in and of itself.
If you discover after a few months that social media isn’t working to draw clients to your law firm, you can terminate the relationship with that contractor without any other major fallout. If you fired a marketing coordinator on your team, however, that coordinator probably had multiple marketing responsibilities and all of those tasks would come to a screeching halt when that employee left.
With independent contractors, you get more flexibility to decide who is on your team and in what structure.
Easily Change Out Contractors If Needed
Hiring an employee comes with a lot of preparation and onboarding work. It can also be hard to bring someone else on to fill that role if you need to part ways with your existing employee.
For contractors, however, you can set up work expectations, systems, and instructions well so that if one person needs to step off the project, you can share those details with a new person and hire that contractor quickly. Since most contractors work with multiple clients at once, they have more availability to fit you into their schedule for a short-term project.
With an employee, you might feel a sense of obligation to help them if they’re struggling with a project. After all, you vetted and hired this person, and they are now a part of your permanent team. This can make it harder to have difficult conversations. If a contractor’s performance is poor, you won’t feel guilty about pulling back and going in a different direction.
Unlike losing an employee, you don’t have to worry about taking a contractor off the payroll, setting up severance, or handling health or other benefits that will terminate when they leave.
In these uncertain times, it’s crucial to be prepared to pivot and adapt to what’s thrown at your law firm. Making the commitment to greatly expand your current staff might not be the right fit for your firm now. This could put you in a difficult payroll situation a few months down the road, at which point you’ll feel even worse about letting an employee you’ve gotten to know go.
Freelancers and independent contractors give you the flexibility and freedom to focus on what’s most important while still allowing you to make changes in your business quickly and effectively.