The robust demand among legal departments for top-notch lawyers to help their teams complete key projects and process financial transactions has spurred many to contract with platforms offering broad networks of experienced attorneys.
Axiom, a global legal talent provider which counts more than half of the Fortune 100 companies as clients, is one platform that has seen business boom amid the frenzied in-house hiring market.
The company has 1,600 lawyers working on engagements for clients, a record high, and has grown its network of attorneys at a steady clip.
Axiom has also expanded its services to companies with a wider array of revenue footprints due to enhanced interest in recent years from small and mid-sized businesses, according to Senior Vice President Sara Morgan, Axiom’s global head of legal talent.
She said the growing willingness of legal departments to tap flexible talent is evidence they are shifting away from the view fixed headcount teams and outside law firms are the only buckets of lawyers they can use.
“The leading clients just don't have that delineation anymore,” Morgan told Legal Dive. “It's very much, ‘How do I get this work done by the best possible resource?’ I think that is a real sea change in the legal sector and how legal work is done.”
Supplementing the in-house team
Axiom is best known for its secondment offering, which provides legal departments with attorneys who embed with a client’s legal team to assist with a variety of work. These lawyers support the activities of the existing in-house team on either a full-time or part-time basis, and their engagements can last for extended periods if needed.
Morgan said Axiom works diligently to ensure the lawyers who are matched with client companies have the requisite experience and are a good cultural fit.
The roughly 6,500 attorneys in the company's network average more than 15 years of experience, with a high percentage of them having worked at Fortune 500 companies and Am Law 100 law firms.
Axiom provides a case study on its website highlighting how it provided Change Healthcare with two lawyers at first, before later providing more than a dozen lawyers working across seven practice areas and numerous subject matters. This fluid workforce helped the newly independent company handle a variety of legal tasks and "deliver improved outcomes with greater efficiency than ever before."
And for companies looking to quickly bring talent on board amid the competitive hiring market, Axiom can provide attorneys within 48 hours, according to Morgan. She said Axiom’s commitment to clients is, “The right lawyer for the legal matter right now.”
Axiom feels comfortable speedily recommending lawyers to in-house teams because it has a very rigorous application and onboarding process, Morgan said, and only hires a small percentage of lawyers who apply to its network.
Another key selling point Axiom highlights is the cost savings it provides legal departments who choose to utilize its services rather than hiring new attorneys directly to their teams.
Because the platform’s network of lawyers remain Axiom employees while on assignment, there are a host of benefits that companies do not have to pay out of their own coffers for Axiom attorneys. These savings include equity, medical insurance and taxes, bar association fees, training and any exit costs, among others.
A Real Cost Calculator developed by Axiom allows GCs to compare the costs of hiring full-time fixed talent to utilizing Axiom’s flexible resources.
An Axiom whitepaper provides the example of a banking client seeing a New York-based capital markets lawyer with 11-15 years of experience. The Real Cost Calculator estimates $85,000 in annual savings by engaging an Axiom lawyer.
Meanwhile, a software client seeking a California-based IP lawyer with 7-10 years of experience is estimated to save $55,000 annually.
Outside counsel and legal teams offerings
Morgan said another way legal departments can reduce their spending is engaging Axiom lawyers for work that it would typically hire outside counsel to handle.
The Axiom lawyers who undertake such engagements typically possess an Am Law 100 background and “have exactly the type of experience you would be expecting from the law firm at a fraction of the rate or cost," according to Morgan.
Axiom claims to save clients an average of 50% compared to what they would spend on a traditional outside firm.
A somewhat newer Axiom offering is providing structured teams of lawyers to help companies handle complex projects or challenging legal matters. These teams come armed with an experienced manager.
Morgan said clients are turning to Axiom teams for regulatory change projects and commercial contracts assistance. These projects are sometimes one-offs and other times ongoing initiatives.
“I predict that we'll see more of this kind of augmentation of the fixed team with more agile resourcing,” Morgan said.
Interest from smaller businesses
Morgan also predicted that small and mid-size businesses will increasingly turn to Axiom to help meet their legal teams’ needs.
She said Axiom has seen a rise in interest for its services from such companies particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom.
“Everything we do tends to be driven by demand from our client base, and we were seeing huge demand that we weren’t tapping into,” Morgan said. “There is no reason why we couldn’t help them.”
She said Axiom taking on more than just large company clients also benefits its network of lawyers by providing them more options.
“For nine months you could be working at a big bank and for the next six months you could be working at an early-stage startup,” Morgan said. “It’s that variety that really gets people excited and that obviously you can’t generally get in a quote-unquote 'normal working life.'”
Growing the network
She said the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated Great Resignation have increased the willingness among legal professionals to rethink their work lives. This, in turn, has resulted in more lawyers being open to careers that don’t involve working directly for a legal department or law firm so they can have more control of their professional journeys.
Along those lines, Morgan shared that the Axiom advertising and marketing materials with the theme “Love law again” have generated the most engagement among attorneys.
“They want to have agility, they want variety and different experiences with what they do,” she said.
These desires among lawyers, combined with the incredibly strong legal department demand for quality talent, have spurred Axiom to keep growing its bench of attorneys.
The platform hired roughly 1,000 lawyers last year, which was a record, and has hired 400 so far this year.
As part of this expansion, the company has brought on more lawyers outside of metropolitan markets as clients have quickly become more comfortable having Axiom attorneys work remotely.
Overall, Morgan said Axiom is moving “full steam ahead” with providing lawyers for a wide range of clients.
“Hiring across the board has just been incredibly active for the past 12 to 18 months, and I can’t see that trend changing,” Morgan said.