Working with an experienced professional recruiter provides many benefits to employers. Here are five key benefits employers get from working with a recruitment firm:

Access to the best candidates

Recruiters have a tremendously broad pool of talent to draw from. What’s more, they can attract the best talent. Many job seekers are employed; for them, confidentiality is top of mind. Usually, they are not conducting an active job search, but rather are conducting a passive, confidential search through a recruiter. These potential candidates are often apprehensive about putting their name forward directly to an employer, whereas they usually are comfortable working with a recruiter. By working with a professional recruiter, employers get access to these highly desirable candidates they would not otherwise. This is particularly useful for specialized or other hard-to-fill positions.

You can focus on your core business

It is not unusual for an employer to receive hundreds of applications for a single position. Working with a professional recruiter can save you time and money by allowing your employees to do their core jobs rather than screening applications, checking references, interviewing candidates, and everything else relating to personnel selection. A recruiter will vet candidates and only present you a short list of people to interview, all of whom are highly qualified and possess the right soft skills to succeed in your organization.

The position gets filled faster 

Positions that remain unfilled for an extended period negatively impact your bottom line. Lost capacity means missed opportunities. Additionally, the remaining employees are forced to take time away from their own duties in order to cover the vacancy, further hurting productivity. With access to the most qualified candidates, streamlined processes and thorough personnel assessment, a recruiter will help fill the vacancy as quickly as possible. Not only do you get back to business, but you do not have to sacrifice candidate quality to do so, as only the best and brightest applicants are presented to the client.

Expert advice at every step

Recruiters are particularly aware of trends and developments within the industry. They have unmatched insight when it comes to market conditions and salaries. They are also highly knowledgeable in the areas of recruiting, interviewing, candidate selection, and onboarding. In short, they are experts in a number of areas relevant to your search. By choosing to work with a recruiter, employers get to benefit from this expertise.

Guaranteed success 

Most good recruiters will also offer a sort of warranty, or guarantee, on candidates they place. For example, if a permanently placed candidate leaves the employ of the client within the guarantee period, the recruiter will offer a replacement candidate, a credit towards a future placement, or similar. Additionally, many good recruiters, including ZSA Consultants, will work on a contingency basis and you never have an obligation to hire. With this “no success, no fee” model, you have nothing to lose!

Please be advised that the information in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice on any subject matter. As with all legal issues, we recommend you consult your lawyer. Accordingly, LexLocom Recruitment Limited will bear no liability to the reader, in any form. There are no representations or warranties made as to the accuracy or substantive adequacy of any information provided in this article.

Out of Practice - Exploring Legal Career Paths in Canada

Interview of Christopher Sweeney, President, LexLocom

Q.  Could you tell me about LexLocom and what it does?

LexLocom is a legal process outsourcing company, dedicated to assisting law firms and legal departments to help them plan, budget, implement and manage cost-effective legal staffing and resource requirements. Our services range from document review, e-discovery, contract hires and other consulting services.  LexLocom understands that our clients have different needs throughout the year and may need to hire experienced legal professionals without incurring the long-term commitment of a permanent hire.

Document review is often the most labour-intensive and expensive stage of the litigation process. To further reduce expenses, a growing number of technologies that automate the review process have entered the market. For an example, during a document review project, lawyers are instructed to look for any discussion whatsoever that involved fidelity insurance or other unique topic.  Increasingly a lot of that work can be done through algorithms and predictive coding. Sometimes a computer algorithm cannot pick out ‘coded’ material – for instance, if somebody were trying to hide a certain type of behavior by using the word ‘green’ instead of the name of the actual behavior.   The text might read:  “Are you going to be doing green tonight?”  And the other person responds, “I’ll be doing green tomorrow,” and they continue to talk about green over and over again.  A human reading this realizes that it is not coherent, whereas a computer would not necessarily be able to pick that up. This is the reason why there is still a human element necessary in the document review process, despite the fact that algorithms are becoming more sophisticated. There is still a lot work to be done by lawyers in these high-volume litigation matters, especially when it comes to analyzing the crucial documents for relevance, privilege or confidentiality.

Ultimately, LexLocom was created to assist our clients in developing flexible, innovative and cost-cutting strategies to improve operating effectiveness and increase service levels. We are ready to provide a team of up to 20 lawyers who understand the legal and factual issues at hand and are able to make the necessary judgment calls. After they review a large volume of documents, they subsequently identify and provide the most important compressed records to the law firm’s in-house lawyers, who decide the next steps.

Q.  Would they do this work at the law firm or off-site?

Both! Our team of highly professional staff can work at the law firm or off-site, depending on the clients’ needs and/or request. Our REVDOC Centre® has the people, equipment and premises to instantly accommodate up to 20 lawyers onsite and more offsite to meet the document review deadlines at a highly competitive cost.

Q.  How does the employment for your lawyers work?  Is it contract-based?

LexLocom has an extensive pool of qualified candidates who are available for short, medium and long-term temporary work, on a freelance basis. Simply, it is contract-based, depending on the length of the project.  Projects range from 2-3 days to 2-12 months. Most commonly however, the duration of the projects ranges from 2-8 weeks.

Q.  Do you have a list of lawyers that you would call in, project by project?

Yes, all with different expertise and backgrounds. These legal professionals are ready to start projects on a days’ notice.

Q.  So do you have people who are working for you and that’s their only job?

This group of professionals may work on different projects throughout the year. There are a few companies like LexLocom out there, so we usually employ them for a few weeks and they subsequently work on a different project on other weeks.  They are freelance, going wherever the contract work is.

Q.  What are the hours like once there is a contract?  Is there flexibility?

The flexibility depends on the nature of the project. Often the hours are 9am-5pm, but can sometimes be longer, and more like 9am-9pm. For instance, if the assignment is due diligence related, looking through corporate documents for something that an acquirer should be concerned about is time-sensitive; therefore the documents must be looked through quickly.  These types of due diligence projects require longer hours and seven day work-weeks. In other cases, such as an ongoing litigation matter that has been slowly progressing for years, the hours would more often be 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Q.  Do you have a sense of the backgrounds of the lawyers you work with?  Is there a typical profile of where these people are coming from?

The lawyers are all really diverse. For the most part, the majority of legal professionals are working on a temporary basis in hopes of locating a permanent position down the road. Other professionals prefer to work on different projects and truly enjoy the flexibility it offers, making time for other important things in their lives, whether it is their families, travel or personal hobbies. So for those people who are looking for a work-life balance, this works out very well.

Q.  Do the lawyers need to be located in the Toronto area?

It depends on where the project is taking place.  There are some projects where you can work from home and others that require you to work in the same establishment. In the latter cases, it tends to be in a major center, like Toronto.

Q.  So do the contract lawyers need to be Ontario lawyers to work for you?

They usually need to be called to the bar in any Canadian province. Furthermore, they need to obtain the appropriate insurance coverage, which can be purchased from the Law Society on a short-term basis.

Q.  Are you yourself a lawyer?


Q.  Can I ask how you got into this area?

Over 17 years ago, I founded ZSA, a national legal recruitment company.  We have a lot of lawyers in our database who are looking for work and most of the placements we make are permanent hires.  As ZSA’s clients grew increasingly more interested in contract lawyers, we started a contract division at ZSA. This led me to create a separate entity, LexLocom, dedicated solely to contract work. Although LexLocom is a separate organization, ZSA provides the legal talent for LexLocom.  We have over 15,000 lawyers registered with us nationally.

Q.  If someone wanted to get involved, they would contact ZSA?

They can contact either ZSA or LexLocom; either one works!

Q.  Are there any particular qualities or skills that make a lawyer successful in being a contract lawyer?

Yes, certainly there are. You have to be focused, patient and detail-oriented, as the work can be somewhat routine and mundane.  Being a quick reader is also helpful because the clients are always looking for speed and cost-effectiveness, and having a lawyer who can process documents rapidly is obviously an advantage to them.

Some files also require the legal team to have specific skill-sets.  For instance, if it’s a big construction litigation file, then the client may very well want to bring in lawyers with specific construction litigation experience to participate on the file.

Q.  Can you give me a sense of how the pay would compare to say, a Bay Street firm?

The pay is actually quite high if you work continuously throughout the year. Most lawyers receive anywhere from $50 to $80 an hour.  Ordinarily however, the contract lawyers are not employed consistently.

Q.  Do you see this as a growth area?

Yes, especially in the next five to seven years. I do however foresee automated document review algorithms as taking a lot of this work away.  Computer companies are constantly working at coming up with more and more sophisticated algorithms to process documents.  New technology is the biggest threat to this as a viable long-term career.  Ultimately, I do not see this being a massive business ten years from now. Nevertheless, I do believe that there will always be a need for some human input.

Using the analogy of an airplane take-off and landing, we currently do not need a pilot to take-off or land, as this is done automatically. Despite this fact, we prefer having humans at the controls during these crucial moments. Similarly, there will likely always be a desire amongst clients to have humans involved in the review process, overseeing and ensuring that the software is coming up with the right results and not missing out on pertinent documents.

Q.  Is there anything else that would be helpful for lawyers considering this path to know?

I have provided you a ‘within-the-box’ vision of this industry.  Law firms are increasingly facing economic pressure, as evidenced by the collapse of Heenan Blaikie.  In circumstances where firms require additional assistance if a massive file enters their door, they will likely hire temporary legal professionals to handle those files, as opposed to hiring additional lawyers.  Seemingly, once that specific project is over, those lawyers are let go immediately.

Straight document review probably has a limited shelf-life because of the increasing sophistication of computerized processing. Nevertheless, as I mentioned before, there will be always be that need for human input. The future could very well mean that law firms may remain lean and beef-up on an as-needed basis, thus creating a demand for contract legal services.

Alternative Career Paths for Junior Lawyers

When it comes to legal positions for lawyers just starting their careers, the first thoughts are usually to work as an associate at a law firm, as in-house counsel, or for the government. While these will remain common paths for many lawyers, the supply of junior lawyers is currently outstripping demand for these jobs. Fortunately, there are a number of interesting opportunities that are not only worth considering, but may even be a better fit when it comes to work-life balance or just personal tastes.

Practice outside the major cities 

While there is an abundance of young lawyers looking for associate positions in Canada’s major cities, the situation is quite different in smaller communities, with many rural areas experiencing lawyer shortages. For a variety of reasons, smaller communities tend not to be as attractive to young lawyers as urban areas. This problem is worsening as experienced lawyers retire from rural areas and insufficient numbers of young lawyers take their places.  

This situation provides an excellent opportunity for lawyers who are willing to practice in a rural area. Compared to an urban area, hardworking, entrepreneurial young lawyers can make names for themselves relatively quickly. Many opportunities exist to buy existing practices from retiring lawyers, or to join a small law office. Lawyers willing to hang their own shingles in a small town can also take advantage of low overhead and easier networking opportunities, not to mention an unbeatable work-life balance.

Solo practice

Between 2007 and 2012, sole practitioners grew by 33% in Ontario – considerably faster than either large firms (20%) or small firms (27%). Being a sole practitioner is hard work, but the opportunities are definitely there, not just for criminal, real estate and family law, but also for areas of business law that are traditionally associated with larger firms. Practicing law as a sole practitioner is primarily a referral business, so networking is crucial, as is putting in the time to build a solid reputation, especially in the first few years. One key to succeeding as a sole practitioner is to streamline operations and reduce costs. Luckily, there are many technology solutions available today to assist, from innovative industry software to more creative solutions like running a virtual office, where the lawyer will work mostly from home and meet clients in their own space or in temporary office space only when necessary.

Alternative providers of legal services 

While business law was once the domain of large law firms, this is starting to shift, as clients increasingly rely on in-house counsel for routine matters, while at the same time demanding that outside legal assistance be provided at prices lower than traditional law firms. As a result, there are relative newcomers to the market who are now facilitating the provision of complex legal services in innovative, low-cost, non-traditional ways.

There are already a significant number of opportunities for junior lawyers in this space, and the number and variety of jobs is projected to continue to grow significantly. For example, LexLocom, www.lexlocom.ca a legal outsourcing provider, has a continuously updated roster of opportunities for lawyers of all experience levels. This includes everything from temporary full-time positions to hourly contract roles, working either in-house, remotely from home, or from LexLocom workspace.

Non-legal jobs  

Having a law degree does not limit your career to practising law. Far from it, many skills you learned in law school and while articling are transferrable to other careers. It will only enhance your chances to also be a lawyer, in addition to your other qualifications. There are many interesting, non-legal careers available to lawyers. Business is perhaps the most obvious, where skills like problem solving, analysis, negotiation, and conflict resolution are highly transferrable. Careers are also readily available in education, such as teaching paralegal courses or working in administrations services at a university; research, writing and editing; and government, non-government advocacy groups and politics.