The Gig Economy: Attracting Top Flexible Legal Talent.

Many working in the legal services sector will probably be familiar with the term “Gig Economy” given the continued rise in demand for temporary positions and independent professionals for project based engagements. But what is it? 

One of the best explanations of the term “Gig Economy” comes from Alan Dehaze, CEO of Adecco Group. Writing in LinkedIn Pulse, Dehaze posed these questions:  “Remember life before Uber? Or when Airbnb sounded like a small guesthouse somewhere up a mountain? “Well, think again...the ‘sharing on demand economy’ is here to stay”.

The Gig Economy and disruptive technologies

Dehaze explained how disruptive technologies and the internet have combined to enable the Gig Economy to boom in industries including accommodation, car rental and staffing. But disruption of more industries is coming, he explained. Companies have moved from large, fixed workforces to a “mix of permanent and temporary staff to gain flexibility and [agility]”. This temporary workforce is similar to the specialist “craftsmen who moved from job [to] job...grouped in guilds to combine their interests when required.”

The Gig Economy and NewLaw

In legal services, NewLaw firms have developed a range of legal solutions where flexible and highly skilled legal talent is just one of the services offered to business clients, corporate legal departments as well as law firms. NewLaw applies the Gig Economy to law. Lawyers with skill sets in technology, consulting or project management are often highly sought after by the GC who is interested in helping their company enjoy cost effective legal solutions aligned with corporate business objectives. This provides lawyers, with top-level experience, an ability to lead flexible lives without the pressures of a full-time role. But to do so, these lawyers must also possess an agile and open mindset and willingness to work differently.

How can lawyers benefit from the Gig Economy?

Lawyers in the Gig Economy now possess an ability to contract with NewLaw firms to provide their talent on an as needed basis by establishing their own personal services companies, which bring added tax benefits, risk management and protection of personal assets. Importantly, too, this flexibility allows for a more diverse and inclusive workforce and a win-win for clients who value a high quality and a cost-efficient model -- and lawyers who can choose engagements and clients they want to work for (from multinational companies to law firms and startups). 

How can employers adapt?

A 2016 article in Deloitte University Press described how companies face a challenge in understanding who and what composes their workforces - and how to manage this workforce.  For example, the old mindset of contractors simply being gap fillers does not reflect the reality of today. Those who can manage and utilise a flexible workforce will see more productivity in the workplace. Notably, the banking and financial institutions have been doing this for a long time. Deloitte details how a new social contract is emerging between employers and workers - which require adaptation not just by workers -- but also by HR departments.  

51% of executives Deloitte surveyed said they plan to increase their use of flexible talent in the next 3-5 years. Companies will therefore need to adapt to new technologies, new ways of measuring costs, and new methods of talent management.

A bright future for those who adapt

Alan Dehaze advises that for those companies who want to find and secure top talent, with a need to be flexible and internationally focused, offering more mobility and on-the-job training to ambitious workers. In legal services, NewLaw is at the forefront of helping legal departments and law firms to adapt to new realities of a disrupted legal talent market where flexible talent is quickly becoming the new norm. It’s these types of adaptors, Dehaze argues, that will thrive as the economy transforms into an agile workforce with modern, worker-focused employers creating the new win-win workplace.

Titus Rahiri