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Temporary Legal Employment

Contract legal employment has become increasingly popular over the past decade. A contract attorney is usually hired to handle legal matters in a shorter time frame than a full-time associate, which creates an economic benefit for the firm. While seeking a full-time position, you may find temporary or contract legal work will help you make some additional money.

As you consider temporary or contract legal work, keep in mind that these positions are structured with an end date and rarely lead to a more permanent position with that employer. If you are a recent graduate who has accepted a permanent position, but your start date has been deferred, it will be important for you to receive pre-approval from your firm because temporary or contract legal work may present "conflicts."

The reasons for pursuing contract or temporary employment vary. Some attorneys seek the work as they search for full-time employment, while others find this type of work allows them to use their legal skills while creating more time and freedom to pursue other interests. Some solo practitioners building their law practices supplement their income by performing hourly contract work for other lawyers.

Law firms with large document review projects are the most likely to use contract attorneys, and the assignments and time commitments will vary. Some assignments may be part-time, some may last several weeks, while still others may require a longer time commitment. Therefore, if you are seeking full-time employment, it is important to manage your schedule appropriately to allow yourself time to conduct a thorough and effective full-time job search.

Many temporary assignments are posted through temporary legal agencies, and it is a good idea to register with several of these agencies. Some temporary positions are competitive so be sure to carefully prepare your application materials. Given the vast number of resumes these agencies receive, it is important to maintain contact with the agency. After you submit your materials, always call to follow up. If there are no immediate positions that fit your qualifications, plan to follow up every few weeks as new opportunities arise.

Once you accept a temporary assignment, treat it as a professional experience, even as you continue to seek a full time job. Ideally you may develop a relationship with one of the supervising attorneys, who may be able to provide you with a reference.

The following sites contain listings of legal search firms: