Lawyers For Hire: Law Firms Have Started to Embrace the Gig Economy

April 25, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Leading law firms are setting up networks of self-employed lawyers to boost their growth.

What does this mean?

Linklaters and Clifford Chance are joining Allen & Overy in providing a more flexible approach to work for current employees and alumni. Allen & Overy’s “Peerpoint” launched in 2013. The platform provides flexible legal services through self-employed lawyers. Recently, Clifford Chance has also started a similar initiative. Lawyers at the firm can apply for two months of unpaid leave a year. They can also apply to work as teams on bespoke projects, working from home when appropriate. Magic Circle firm Linklaters is said to be following suit. They are emulating Eversheds’ “Agile” and Pinsent Masons’ “Vario” in embracing the gig economy.

Why should law firms care?

Working remotely could be the future of the legal world. 1000 lawyers are already working freelance in the UK with the rise of ‘platform’ firms. Now the Magic Circle are waking up to the opportunities of this way of working.

As Laura King (Partner and Head of People and Talent at Clifford Chance) has stated, this new scheme will allow the firm to “flex up and down for times that are busy”. Meeting a fluctuating client demand is a tool to compete with other firms. This is because electing to use on-demand legal consultants when needed, instead of employing full-time staff, is more efficient for the firm and more affordable for clients. Interestingly, these schemes are targeted towards alumni of the firms. This encourages a strong alumni network, maintaining connections, and ensuring bridges are maintained.

So, the benefits for firms are evident, but what about for the individual? Lawyers are able to opt out of the “long hours” culture at law firms. Yet, they still get to work on big projects with prestigious clients. This style of working is no longer only appealing to lawyers who are starting families, but is now also attracting younger lawyers who are looking for a more flexible lifestyle. Despite initial fears that the legal sphere wouldn’t warm to this approach, law firms are opening up to this new style of working.

Could this be the beginning of a revolution for traditional law firms?

Report written by Elizabeth M

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