Stacey McConnell says the legal profession doesn’t “work” for enough women. Interested in raising a family while still practicing law, too many female attorneys just leave the field, frustrated by the lack of flexible options.
Facing that situation herself, McConnell co-founded The Adept Legal Talent Group, a legal services company that connects freelance attorneys with law firms and legal departments – providing exactly the type of opportunities that would allow women to have the kind of work-life balance they need.
In a recent question-and-answer feature in Law Practice Today, McConnell tells her story and shares the ins and outs of being a contract lawyer, as well as the business advantages of using such attorneys.
A growing number of today’s firms recognize the benefits. “Firms and businesses alike are striving to do more with less, and a contract attorney can mean a great deal of savings on an employee hire, not just because hourly rates are competitive but because of the savings in time and money on the recruiting side,” McConnell says.
Freelance lawyers can also make smaller firms more competitive and full service, she notes, pointing out that using contract professionals can free up time for business development or other pressing matters.
If you’re interested in making the transition, McConnell offers some advice. “Most of our employer clients are concerned with how contract lawyers will work with the existing legal team,” she says. “Highlighting your ability to collaborate is key.”
Among other ways to stand out from the crowd:
- Understand yourself and be able to communicate what makes you a good fit. “Cite specific examples of successes at work and be sure to be able to express enthusiasm when describing your own contribution,” McConnell says. And, on the flip side, know how you handle adversity and challenges in the workplace, with ready examples of how you handled a difficult situation.
- Make clear your growth mindset. “Be able to describe with specificity a mistake you have learned from,” McConnell advises. “It will help you be seen as human, flexible and willing to learn.”
In short, “Present yourself in such a way that the client knows you take work seriously and are ready and willing to contribute to the success of the project, firm or company,” McConnell summarizes.
For more guidance from McConnell, read the interview here.
Law Practice Today is a publication of the ABA Law Practice Division.