Covid-19 has confirmed a new era of remote and flexible working arrangements for lawyers.
Talented lawyers are becoming Flexible Legal Counsel in a bid to progress their careers, achieve greater balance and capitalise on the increasingly mobile legal work economy.
Some lawyers are embarking on an early-mid career shift. Others are senior specialists, wanting to sink their teeth into exciting projects with large clients. Whatever the reason, secondments are now a normal part of the new legal career path.
And it’s not just individual legal professionals who benefit from the Secondee workforce. Driven by budget pressures and motivated to embrace new ways of working, General Counsel are increasingly looking to tap into the growing market of flexible legal talent.
The traditional, linear path from articled clerk to law firm partner is no longer the gold standard legal career. Instead, both lawyers and employers seek diverse skill sets built across a range of experiences - and secondments are a great way to achieve that aim.
But how do you crack into this world of exciting project engagements? What exactly is a flexible legal counsel? And what do you need to know before you embark on your first secondment?
In this article, we’re sharing answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about secondments.
What is a Legal Secondment?
A legal secondment involves a lawyer temporarily joining an in-house legal team. Secondments may vary in length but commonly continue for 6-9 months.
Legal teams request secondees for a variety of reasons. In the past, legal teams used secondees as ‘gap-fillers’ to cover maternity/paternity positions or help with overflow. But now, we’re increasingly seeing General Counsel strategically deploy flexible legal counsel for a variety of reasons, including where:
- Work volume increases (for example, because of constrained headcount, regulatory response, or launching a new business line)
- They need specialised expertise;
- Tight deadlines require extra bandwidth to complete tasks on-time;
- Complex project work requires extra support; or
- Core team members move into special projects and coverage of day-to-day work is required.
Secondments have traditionally taken place as part of a young lawyers experience in a traditional law firm. Now, with the rise of NewLaw providers like Plexus Engage, secondments are a key element of successful legal careers.
When should I go on secondment?
There is no 'wrong time’ to become a secondee. Plexus onboards amazing lawyers at various career stages.
We work with a great pool of excellent junior lawyers who are hoping to expand their horizons early. Capable and adaptable junior lawyers can be especially useful where legal teams require extra capacity or support across business-as-usual legal work streams.
Mid-level and senior lawyers who are aiming to accelerate their careers with new experiences are regularly in high demand from our clients. Experienced legal counsel can provide specialised expertise to boost the capability of a legal team, support major projects, or take over entire work streams where clients lack capacity.
Senior lawyers and legal leaders join Plexus to find more flexibility and contribute their knowledge across a range of high-value work.
Ultimately, there are secondment opportunities at each stage of a lawyer’s career.
Are secondments flexible?
Flexibility is of the major benefits for many Plexus lawyers.
Being a Secondee allows you to take control of your career. You might work full-time, part time, on limited hours or at limited times of the year. You might target specific industries or sectors, hone a particular skill set, or diversify your knowledge.
While the legal industry has previously confined lawyers to linear, inflexible career paths, secondments offer the opportunity for forward-thinking lawyers to reclaim their time and direction.
Why do lawyers become secondees?
Highly respected lawyers come to Plexus at different phases of their careers to work with leading legal teams at world-class companies. Secondments are attractive to high performing lawyers for a range of reasons, including:
- Flexible work schedule;
- Accelerated learning and development;
- Interesting in project work;
- Networking and connecting with new people;
- Desire to explore different legal team environments;
- Wanting to experience new work streams and build new capabilities.
Plexus empowers you to choose how and when you work, and matches you with companies and engagements that align to your priorities, skills, and goals.
Many of our lawyers have a passion for innovation in the legal industry and want to be part of the future of law. We’re a tight-knit community of forward-thinking lawyers who are making a positive dent on the industry, and we look for great lawyers who can help us continue to unlock the and transform the value of legal.
What kind of clients will I work with?
Plexus serves the legal teams of the world’s most recognisable brands, from big banks to top telcos, innovative technology companies and newspapers.
These companies are increasingly looking for NewLaw providers who can help them reduce fees whilst providing excellent lawyers on-call. Our lawyers have never been in higher demand, and top organisations have never been more willing to engage secondees to tackle project work.
Who will my employer be?
Plexus! Our lawyers are employees of our incorporated legal practice and are seconded to our client’s legal departments. We pay your salary, CPD, etc.
Over to you
If you want to learn more about progressing your career via secondments, check out our Legal Secondments Guide. Or learn how GCs are adopting agile resourcing to fill capacity gaps and build more effective Legal functions.