It's Time: Convince Your Boss to Hire a Contract Attorney


Did you know that nearly 28% of attorneys experience depression? And that attorneys are number 11 on the CDC’s occupational suicide list? Many factors contribute to attorneys’ stress, and while many are discussed, “burnout” appears on every list of factors. According to Professor Dr. Arnold Bakker, “enthusiastic employees excel in their work because they maintain the balance between the energy they give and the energy they receive”, while staff who are faced with burnout experience “a state of exhaustion in which one is cynical about the value of one’s occupation and doubtful of one’s capacity to perform.”

In order to battle burnout in the workplace, nearly 56% of law firms rely on contract attorneys to survive non-stop hours and intense workloads while improving client service.

Are your colleagues becoming members of the Walking Dead as the days go on? Is the work product or the health of your team suffering, and your bosses are not sure on the best course of action? It may be time for you to take matters into your own hands and convince your firm to hire contract attorneys to alleviate the stress. Here’s how:

STEP ONE: Collect Evidence and Conduct a Cost-Benefit Analysis

The best way to convince anyone to adapt to change is to provide a reason why. You’ll want to start by collecting evidence. Determine how much this is going to cost your firm by researching a few companies/recruiting agencies who can provide the types of attorneys you’ll need, and get quotes from them so that you can provide a cost breakdown.

Identify the issues and risks associated with working with contract attorneys. The most common concerns include finding the right candidate for the workplace culture, how much time will be spent on Human Resources and onboarding/training, and who will be responsible for maintaining a quality work product from the contract attorney.

Next, focus on the benefits that are most relevant to your situation and how to best describe them. Here’s a cheat sheet of benefits to use in your preparations:

  • Contract attorneys are an efficiency booster. Contract attorneys are often highly specialized in specific practice areas and can provide targeted firepower that would otherwise require a team of more junior attorneys. Unlike their permanent counterparts, contract attorney reinforcements can help handle peak workloads, but don’t idle during low workflows.

  • Hiring a contract attorney gives firms the opportunity to test out a candidate. Resumes and interviews are no match for a “fit test.” With contract attorneys, there’s no risk in hiring if the match doesn’t work out.

  • You’ll prevent attorney burnout at your firm. Contract attorneys can help prevent attorney burnout when there is an overflow of work or a colleague is out on leave.

  • Your overhead costs are reduced significantly. Not only do most agencies handle the background checks and billing/invoicing, but hiring a contract attorney also means not having to spend firm funds on health insurance and 401(k) benefits, as well as things like paid vacation.

STEP TWO: Rally the Support of Your Team

Get the conversation started! Take your thoughts to your colleagues to see they think about bringing in contract attorneys. Start to socialize the idea and approach those who openly resist your idea and allow them to speak earnestly. Gathering objections will help you hone your own arguments in favor of your plan.

Use the feedback you receive on a positive and negative basis to determine what is the best way to use contract attorneys, and then prepare to present.

STEP THREE: Presentation of Implementation

Timing is key. Identify a time that is convenient for all involved. Trying to push this idea during a hectic time will not bode well for success. Start with an example of a relevant use case for a contract attorney in your office:

“After speaking with Cheryl, it looks like we could use a contract attorney to help with drafting and filing trademarks. Depending on Cheryl’s need, the contract attorney can conduct work on-site or remotely, for as many or as few hours as necessary, and would report directly to Cheryl. In hiring someone to assist Cheryl, she can focus on other pressing matters that directly impact the firm’s growth and success like [insert valuable matters here].”

Next, present the information you collected in Step One, and highlight the potential effectiveness in terms of productivity and cost. Leave the floor open for discussion.

STEP FOUR: Go to Plan B

Are your bosses not convinced? That’s ok! Take the time to gather your thoughts and re-approach them when the time is right. Stay in touch with the contacts you made during your research, and when the time is right, request to see a few sample candidates for a need you think a contract attorney can fill so that you can be prepared for emergent needs.

Contact us at Hire an Esquire ( for sample candidates or a quote to help you present your case.