To contract or not to contract?

By no means is this post meant to raise a new issue.  In fact, I am sure the issue of whether to do contract work while searching for a permanent position has been blogged about before.  Even so, because I believe that the answer to this question changes as the economy changes, its worth a revisit.

I cannot recall a day in the last six months on which I was not asked by an unemployed law-firm associate whether it would hurt their chances of finding a permanent job if they did some contract work to bring in some money (yes, even though big-law firm attorneys make ridiculously large salaries, let’s face it, we are not exactly the best money managers).  I applaud anyone who asks me this question because it shows that he/she is thoughtful and aware that much of what you do can affect your chances of obtaining a new permanent job.

So, what is the answer?  Should you do contract work or will doing so make your resume less attractive to prospective employers?  While there is no “right” answer, in a strong economy, I recommend against contracting because it can make an associate look unfocused and/or uncommitted.  However, in an economy like this one, all bets are off, meaning that contract work has become a necessity for many unemployed associates.  Think about it.  Countless attorneys have been laid off as a result of this recession, many of whom are the primary wage earners for their families or have other monetary obligations that do not simply disappear because the economy has gone down the toilet.  Contract work is a relatively easy way to keep some level of income while searching for a job.  And, from my experience (and only my experience) firms have changed their tunes about contract work as well.  In fact, when I inform firms that my candidate is doing contract work, the usual response is something like “that makes sense” or “of course, that’s no problem.”  After all, we are all experiencing the recession to come extent so those who have escaped the massive lay offs should empathize with those who have been cut.

So, while the economy is in the tank, contract away.  But remember, once the economy has recovered (which it will very soon) and permanent jobs are abundant, contracting may no longer be as acceptable. 


Read the original: Lateral Attorney Report