By: Kandice Thorn
Last week, we discussed the pros and cons of contract attorney positions. This week, we will look at how to go about getting a contract attorney position if you decide to pursue this type of work.
Finding a Staffing Agency
Most temporary placements are handled through legal temp agencies or staffing agencies. An attorney seeking temporary legal work will register with an agency, and the agency will contact the candidate when a position arises that is a good fit for the candidate. If you are seeking temporary work, it is best to register with several of these agencies. The National Directory of Legal Recruiters maintains an extensive list of legal temp agencies and allows you to conduct a customized search.
Another resource you should be aware of is www.theposselist.com. In addition to maintaining a list of staffing agencies, this site maintains several listservs with announcements for temporary positions. They maintain over 100 specialized lists, including lists by geographic location and lists for proficiency in various languages.
Applying for Temporary Positions
Just like all legal jobs, when you register with a temporary agency, you should carefully prepare a resume and cover letter. Some temporary positions may be competitive, so it will be important to have strong application materials. Like all jobs, if you do not hear back within a week or so, you should follow up. Temp agencies often receive a large volume of applications and a follow up will ensure that your application is reviewed.
Once you are accepted by an agency, it might take time before a position arises that matches your qualifications. Be sure to check in with the agency every 2-3 weeks to keep your candidacy fresh in their minds as new positions are posted.
On the Job
Once you have accepted an assignment, it is important to take the assignment as seriously as you would a regular permanent job. Remember that the employer will communicate back to the agency regarding your performance and poor performance or unprofessional behavior can decrease the chances that you will be called back for another job.
These positions can also lead to good networking opportunities. Make an effort to develop relationships with people at the firm, who can be excellent professional contacts and also potentially provide a reference for you as you pursue permanent work. (Keep in mind, however, that temporary assignments rarely lead to a permanent position with that employer.)