Bridging the gap – interim legal resourcing solutions
It can be tough for General Counsel (GC) when they temporarily lose a key member of their team through illness, maternity or internal secondment. Tradition dictates that a readily available interim is quickly brought in who, on paper, has the right kind of legal experience and is not looking for a long term-commitment.
Yet a typical interim engagement is often a high-risk, high-cost strategy that rarely solves a skills-gap or adds any real value. The reality, and this is true of all interims, not just those operating in the legal profession, is that they are often learning on the job; whether it is company processes or a certain skill set. It can take up to three months for these temporary appointments to fully find their feet, but for interim roles especially for short interim engagements, taking months to get up to speed is just too long and it does not represent good value or indeed, make business sense.
GCs often bemoan the lack of consistency these ‘quick-fix’ appointments bring and also struggle to reconcile the commitment gap in people who, for a part of their engagement, will already have their eye on the next move.
For GCs, who are looking for interim solutions, it is important to know that there are options in the legal services market. Recruitment agencies, traditional law firm secondees and general freelance contractors are not the only options and GCs are definitely in the driving seat calling for change. So, what would limit the risk of interim solutions for GCs?
1. Interims who can hit the ground running
Being parachuted into a business and hitting the ground running from day one is a big ask but that is what most GCs require for interim solutions. You can start by looking at skill set, but as many in-house lawyers will tell you private practice and in-house require different skills and it is not just about technical experience. If you really want someone to hit the ground running a senior ex-in-house lawyer should be good to go. They know how in-house works, the reporting lines, and the issues that companies face.
2. Interims who are on ‘your’ message and strategy
For interim solutions it is hard to find someone who is looking to your long term objectives partly because they are not in the position for the long term. The key is often to look for interim lawyers who are either looking for a permanent position, so a temp to perm role, or interims whose focus is on the long-term, or to put it another way, ‘repeat-business’. In either case the interim will have greater buy in and therefore you limit your risk.
3. Adding value
Interims are uniquely positioned to add value. They are parachuted in to a number of organisations, so they see a variety of organisations and how they operate. They have the ability to give an interesting insight to how an organisation should operate. By using an experienced interim you can take the opportunity to bring some fresh thinking to your team.
4. Full flexibility
This is essential for all interim positions. Maternity leave can be extended and projects can overrun. GCs do not want to start another recruitment process and handover part way through the placement. This is a resourcing issue that should be managed by the person looking at the interim’s workload. It is also important to note that if you are creating a longer term relationship as mentioned in point 2, the interim could also manage this.
5. Cost effectiveness
Cost effectiveness is essential. There is of course a price to pay for an interim solution, whether it is via a recruitment agency or a solution like Halebury, but the cost must be reasonable.
There are interims who can hit the ground running, are genuine team players and operate as long term business partners, who can add value, are fully flexible and cost effective…the key for GCs is knowing where to find them.