One of the enjoyable by-products of my year as IndyBar president has been the opportunity to do lots (and I mean LOTS) of networking. I have met law students, recent law grads, unemployed and underemployed lawyers, and many lawyer friends seeking to return to Indiana from out of state. The good news is that the legal market in Indy is improving. Jobs are opening in law firms, corporations and government service. People are finding work. Nevertheless, the number of lawyers looking for work is still very high.
In a perfect world, my dream would be for every job seeker to land a full-time position. I would also hope that all of you could find the time to network and mentor our colleagues who cannot find work. In the meantime, I have one question for you: “Have you hired a contract lawyer lately?”
I have no doubt that many, many firms have legal work sitting in line to be done and no one to do it. One result of the downturn in the economy is that firms have hired fewer people, and as the economy has returned, they are trying to make do with fewer lawyers. That means that the legal work eventually gets done, but sometimes it sits for a while until a busy lawyer can get to it.
Here is my pitch. Take a moment to consider whether you have a special project or two in which a contract lawyer could do the work, or think about whether you could use someone 10-15 hours per week to do research, discovery projects, or the like. If you are unwilling or unable to hire a full-time associate, why not hire someone on an hourly contract?
For the person you hire, it is a foot in the door and a chance to impress you. It is an opportunity to make some money to pay student loans (or pay dues to the IndyBar). Above all else, it provides much needed experience and a sense of hope for someone who may be getting discouraged.
How do you go about it? For starters, there are local contract lawyer firms who have lists of pre-screened lawyers who are able to work part time. You can advertise through the IndyBar, in the Indiana Lawyer or at the law school. If all else fails, call me. All of the officers of IndyBar and I have stacks of resumes of the folks we have met. We would love to connect you with them.
Give it a try. You may be very happy you did. I am.•