Matthew Porter
Matthew Porter
Director: London Private Practice: Interim and Paralegals

Articles From the Team

Applying for Fixed Term Contract Roles

The interim legal workspace has been growing steadily for the last 10 years or so and post pandemic we have seen even more demand from law firms seeking to hire lawyers into non-permanent roles.

The same can be said in respect of lawyer candidates seeking to break into this market. As working patterns and habits have had to change due to the pandemic so too have the ideals and aspirations of some lawyers; the desire to climb the career ladder has been surpassed by the desire for flexibility, freedom and change.

Traditionally, interim roles were brought about by maternity leave absences in the main or from legal departments that would have large project based roles. Typically interim roles would be for six or twelve months in duration. When I started recruiting interim lawyers way back in 2010 we would be instructed by a handful of City firms who would recruit a small number of interim lawyers per year. Real estate and corporate lawyers had the spoils of firms to work for owing largely to large project matters.

Fast forward 11 years and the interim legal space is awash with vacancies from firms big and small. Assignments can vary in length; recent examples include a US law firm client who recruited a FS Regs lawyer to cover extended paternity leave for 10 weeks, a global law firm who have recruited a handful of real estate lawyers on an ongoing basis and a national firm who have recruited a planning lawyer on a 12 month fixed term contract basis.

The market is pretty good at the moment for interim lawyers. That said, there is lots of competition for roles and there are a few recommendations that I can make to would-be interim lawyers to help them get on the first rung of the interim career ladder.

  1. Get your CV in order. Recruitment processes for interim roles can often involve just one interview and the time from CV submission to start date can (sometimes) be as little as a week. Have your CV ready to go. Your CV should give a full account of what you can do from a technical point of view and should give an accurate chronology of your career to date.
  2. Decide quickly; the first stage of my roles as a recruiter is to tell candidates about the vacancies I have been instructed to fill. Rarely will I be presented with a job specification. Sometimes I might get a one line email from a client. Sometimes as hard as I try, I simply cannot get additional information from my client. From experience, the candidates who request additional information or want to “have the weekend to think about it” are the ones who lose out. Throw caution to the wind and make the application, the questions you have about the role can be asked at interview.
  3. Don’t wait for the perfect job to come up; successful interim lawyers who move from contract to contract do so by being flexible. They follow the work and may take a lesser paid role or a role with a smaller firm in order to keep themselves in work. The interim market is never strong enough for a candidate to hold out for a role at US firms only or West End firms only.
  4. Let your recruiter know when your contract is nearing its end; let us know when you are going to become available so that we can find the next contract option to present to you.

If you are an interim lawyer or would-be interim lawyer looking for your next assignment, or a law firm looking to hire an interim lawyer, please don’t hesitate to contact Matthew Porter or Raj Sidhu who have more than 25 years’ combined experience within the interim legal recruitment market.

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