In this era of doing ‘more with less’, one of the key challenges many in-house teams face is managing the constant flow of ‘business as usual’ (BAU) that comes across their desks. Over the last few years, two key solutions have emerged to tackle this continuous challenge. The first is the secondee or labour hire model, pursued by businesses such as Axiom in the United States and Lawyers on Demand in the United Kingdom and Australia. The second is the managed service model, pursued by providers such as UnitedLex in the US and popularised by LegalVision here in Australia. It can be difficult to choose between the two models as both the secondee and desk extension models have advantages and drawbacks. This article will provide in-house teams with clarity on these two options.

Secondee or Labour Hire Secondment Model

The secondment model was first popularised by traditional law firms. The main aim of this model was to deepen client relationships. Unfortunately, sending secondees to clients for extended periods of time has never been particularly profitable for law firms. Demand has therefore almost always outstripped supply. This is the gap that providers like Axiom and Lawyers on Demand spotted and leveraged 15 or so years ago. 

The secondee or labour hire business model is relatively simple. The business hires lawyers, either on a day rate or as permanent employees, and effectively rents them out to in-house teams at a 40-50% margin. The model is quite profitable as the labour hire business does not need to invest much in the way of operating expenses (i.e. technology).

From a client perspective, the key benefits of the labour hire model are as follows.

1. On-Site Presence 

A key benefit of the secondee model is that you will have a qualified lawyer in your office during work hours. Although there is a slight overhead cost to this, it can be beneficial to have a secondee available to attend internal meetings and work face-to-face with key stakeholders.  

2. Get Moving Quickly

If you are working with one of the larger labour hire businesses in the market, they will likely be able to get someone into your office at short notice. Because the secondee model does not involve bringing process efficiency or tech to bear in the production of legal work, your resource can generally jump straight into doing the legal work. In certain circumstances this can work well.

3. Back-Ups Available

It may not be an easy task to find a lawyer who will gel with your business. If a labour hire business sends you a lawyer who does not work out, they will generally swap that lawyer out for a new lawyer at no additional cost. You should make sure this is the case before you sign up.

Managed Service Model

There are many different models of legal managed services. At LegalVision, we divide our enterprise managed services offering into two distinct baskets:

  • product-specific managed services; and 
  • desk extensions. 

Our product-specific managed services assist clients with recurring legal work, such as:

  • marketing collateral review;
  • managing retail leasing portfolios; and 
  • employment compliance. 

Our desk extension service involves us bundling a variety of work types into one streamlined solution for a fixed monthly fee. 

For example, this could include:

  • assisting with general contract reviews; and 
  • advising on commercial contracts.

For example, LegalVision has a team of over 120 people. 



Labour hire 

Managed service 

Solves excess workload



Appropriate skill level 


On-site presence 


Specialist expertise across multiple areas of law



Only what you need (resource matches volume)



Creates lasting capital value in the business 


Scales with the business 



About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.
Lachlan McKnight

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