June 2019

The Gig-economy for Immigration Law: How this Simple Process Helps Create Work Opportunities for Law Practices

The traditional model of hiring lawyers to help you as your practice grows can be risky and require much cost and effort. This risk and effort are exacerbated during peak seasons as needs become more immediate. Hiring on a project basis greatly lessens that effort and eliminates the risk. More lawyers are turning to project-based engagements to find both work and help.

The “gig economy” has been a hot topic in recent years thanks to its steady growth. In fact, freelance work—which fuels this growth—is adding $715 billion annually to the economy. Non-traditional work arrangements drive the gig economy, and it’s only going uphill from here. In fact, 7.6 million Americans will be working in the gig economy by 2020, according to a study by Intuit Inc. And it’s no wonder the gig economy is on the rise, because it’s equally as beneficial for employers, as it is for workers.

The legal profession is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the technology models that define the gig economy. Not only does it create a large amount of new jobs for lawyers, but it will also allow lawyers and their firms to grow their practices much more quickly and efficiently, and without the risk and costs of hiring full-time associates.

Reduced Risk and Costs

Hiring on a project basis on a platform/website which gives you immediate access to qualified lawyers allows you to hire when needed, quickly, without having to spend the time that is required in the traditional legal recruiting process. Being able to add resources quickly and on a project by project basis lowers the risk of hiring both the wrong person or having to keep that new hire busy at slower periods.

So, one of the most important benefits of engaging associate level help on a project basis is elasticity. Equally beneficial to being able to ramp up your resources when in need is the opportunity to ramp down your resources when they are no longer needed.

Increased Pricing Efficiency

As most states’ ethics codes recognize the use of “freelance” attorneys in your practice, one way to view the project lawyer’s costs is like a traditional associate where their time is billed to the client on an hourly basis. Efficiencies in this model can both be passed on to the client and improve your profit margins.

Immigration Law Practices Seasonal Need for Increased Resources

One popular use of project-based hiring is in practice areas that experience seasonal peaks. The project-based hiring model is even more attractive as both risk and costs increase when hiring is done on a more emergency basis which is created by the quick hiring fire drills common in seasonal work.

The need for increased resources that most immigration lawyers and practices experience during H-1B cap season can be addressed by hiring “project” lawyers. These practices may also experience peak times when changes in law create a spike in work demand for drafting or completing applications. Further requiring the need for additional resources is the fact that overflow work may arise with little or no notice at all. The immigration law practice offers unique opportunities for utilizing project lawyers in specific tasks thereby making it a perfect solution for immigration lawyers and their firms by seeking assistance with application completion, document assembly, requests for additional evidence or motions to reopen or reconsider.

By being able to post a legal project online and connecting with freelance lawyers who are eager to work, you can add as much or as little help as you need daily, weekly, or monthly. Depending on your needs you can grow and contract easily, getting as much help as you need, when you need it, without having to worry about keeping anyone busy during the quieter periods.

Being able to view candidates and their proposals online creates greater transparency and offers the ability to review their qualifications, as well as their response to your proposed fees. You are also able to engage directly with the potential project lawyer to discuss experience, personality fit and fees. With a traditional temporary legal staffing agency you are usually not allowed to contact the potential lawyer prior to engagement, and cannot easily review qualifications nor discuss fees or pay directly.

Maintain Control Over the Work Completion Process

In addition to having control over the hiring process, project work also gives firms control over the work completion process. The unique structure of project work allows law firms to participate in and/or supervise the work completion process to any extent at any given time. Project work provides on-demand collaboration that’s perfect for busy lawyers.

Final Thoughts

Project work is an effective way to more easily achieve growth in a competitive market for new and established firms while providing new attorney jobs. The flexibility of project work makes it a scalable solution that can be used on an as-needed basis, which helps immigration firms get work done more cost-effectively, especially during peak time like H-1B cap season. A solution that provides firms with new work opportunities to develop, grow, and focus on what matters most with their law practice.

Copyright 2019 American Immigration Lawyers Association. All rights reserved.

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