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11th Oct 2023

Interim Vs Permanent Lawyer – Recruitment Comparison

Whether recruiting a lawyer to your team or looking for your next role, understanding the difference between interim and permanent roles is critical. This knowledge profoundly impacts recruitment strategies. Explore the detailed comparison below:

Interim Recruitment Permanent Recruitment
Duration of Engagement Short-term engagements range from a few weeks to a year. They typically cover peak workloads like specific projects or temporary absences, like parental leave. Long-term, indefinite positions with no predetermined end date. Hired with the expectation of a lasting commitment to the company.
Speed of Recruitment The recruitment process is often expedited as interim lawyers are brought in to address immediate legal needs. Companies prioritise quick onboarding. The recruitment process may take longer due to the comprehensive evaluation required to ensure a good long-term fit with the organisation.
Engagement Method Interim lawyers can be engaged as Secondees or fixed-term employees. Secondees can be paid from the “external legal budget” or sometimes even allocated to a specific business unit or project cost. This typically also avoids potential issues with headcount restrictions and HR approval. Assuming the lawyer’s remuneration is the same, a Fixed Term Employment contract costs the company roughly 20% less than a secondee. Permanent lawyers are engaged on permanent employment contracts.
Interview Process Emphasis is placed on assessing immediate skills, experience, and availability to meet the company's specific needs. Interviews may be conducted swiftly. The process for permanent recruitment may involve multiple rounds of interviews with various stakeholders, including legal department heads, senior management, and potentially cross-functional teams. Cultural fit assessments are common.
Notice periods Interim engagements tend to have shorter notice periods, 1 week to 1 month, to allow for changes in a project duration or team member's return. Permanent employment typically has a 1 month notice period, but they can be up to 3 months.
Salary Secondees are usually paid hourly or daily and do not accrue annual or sick leave. Fixed Term Contractors are paid an annualised salary and accrue annual leave and sick leave. Interim lawyers seldom participate in incentive or bonus plans. Typically, permanent employees receive an annual salary with the potential for performance-based bonuses or additional benefits like health insurance, paid time off or other employment perks.
Job Expectations Responsibilities are usually focused on the immediate legal needs identified by the company. They may be given specific tasks or projects to complete during their engagement. Interim lawyers for shorter project terms may focus on defined tasks and objectives. Whereas longer-term interim roles supporting BAU work may involve a wider range of in-house legal work, such as contract negotiation, regulatory compliance, litigation management, and providing legal advice to various departments Involve various legal roles and responsibilities, including contract negotiation, regulatory compliance, litigation management, and providing legal advice to different departments. Lawyers in permanent roles may also take on leadership positions within the legal team and have opportunities for career growth within the company.