Small Firms: The Benefit of Contract Attorneys

November 24, 2016 Hire an Esquire Insights

Fifty-six percent of law firms use contract attorneys to meet business demands. Chances are, your competition is using contract attorneys as a flexible resource. And the reason is simple, hiring a contract attorney is often a more efficient choice than making a permanent hire; it means less overhead and more time for rainmaking. Not sure when to hire a contract attorney? If the billable time of current full-time employees is below 85% and the profit margins are below 50%, it’s a wiser choice to hire a contract attorney rather than a permanent associate.

If you’re still on the fence, here are 5 major benefits of leveraging contract attorneys:

(1) Provide a Full-Service Firm

While your firm may specialize in one practice area, your clients may have matters that may be out of the scope of your core practice specialties. Rather than referring the case to other firms, consider whether you have the supporting resources to handle it, not the specialization.

Hiring a specialist to lead the charge will help your firm ease into new practice areas while taking more holistic care of your clients’ legal needs.

(2) More Time For Rainmaking, More Time For You

Small firm lawyers are often very ambitious and work hard to establish, maintain, and grow their relationships with clients. As a result, only 1.5 hours worth of work are collected on per day, the rest is admin or non-billable work. With collection being so low, it’s no wonder that work-life balance barely enters into the calculation for many small-firm lawyers. Despite all of the demands of this busy career, work-Life balance is absolutely necessary. It begins with knowing when it’s time to power down your laptop, ignore the incoming emails, and take time to breathe - to live. Civil Trial/Litigation Attorney, Fabio Sciarrino Esq understands that “we work to live” and that synergy between your work and life is necessary to achieve an optimal level of success.

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The next step is maximizing time by hiring a contract attorney. This will create more room for you to manage client relationships, focus on business growth, and to create a little more room in your day for balance.

(3) Release and Recuperation

Furthermore, you can ease the squeeze on your staff with contract legal professionals. While you are busy rainmaking, you can provide your full-time staff with the opportunity to take vacation, much needed sick days, or days to simply recharge their batteries.

You will no longer feel the repercussions of a team member going on leave for an extended period of time.

Bring in contract attorneys to lighten your load, or hire contract legal professionals to help attorneys with the grunt and grind of the tedious time-killing aspects of legal work. Hire an Esquire now provides paralegals, patent agents, and general legal professionals.

Send inquiries and requests to to see how we can help your firm today!

(4) Burnout Prevention

With an overwhelmed staff, productivity and work product suffers. While it may seem like your attorneys are staying busy, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are at their peak in terms of productivity. “If you think reading case law, responding to emails, and talking to a colleague at the same time increases productivity, you are absolutely mistaken.”

Contract attorneys can assist with time-consuming projects such as document review and coding, general e-filing, and various other tasks including legal research and writing. It’s perfectly okay to seek their assistance; otherwise, you and your colleagues may suffer from a slow, creeping burnout. Know how to identify when it’s time to hire - and how to convince your team it’s a good idea.

(5) Introduce Efficiency and Reduce Costs

The most significant benefit of hiring contract attorneys is the overall cost reduction. Over the course of their engagement, the spend on a contract attorney is roughly ⅓ the cost a permanent hire doing the same work. This savings occurs because contract attorneys are only paid for the hours that they work, and the contract attorney’s agency often bears the majority of the cost of administrative overhead.

As a result, your firm saves the human resource hours of administrative onboarding and the cost of adding the attorney to your firm’s benefits packages. There is no risk of sunk cost and time if the attorney turns out to not be the best fit.

By building a flexible bench of contract attorneys, you can hire on-demand based on your firm’s needs. Contract attorneys are mostly hired on a project-by-project basis; avoid filling a seat and paying for overhead during the low-revenue seasons where there is a lack of work.

Further cost reduction can be achieved by hiring remote contract attorneys, who do not need space in your office or office supplies, like a new laptop, while they work on your project. For small firms based in larger cities, this can mean a 10-15% difference in costs


While small firms may not have the capacity to take on work like larger law firms, that doesn’t mean that they cannot compete. Small firms have the opportunity to become closely involved with their clients and build a strong rapport. Ask for help to assist with your caseload and level the playing field with bigger players and hire a contract attorney or legal professional with Hire an Esquire today.

Click HERE to view the Definitive Contract Attorney Rate Guide!