Freshfields holds off on launch of alumni network temp project until 2012

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has pushed back the launch of an initiative that will see the magic circle law firm use its alumni network to provide additional staffing on deals during busy periods.

The scheme, known as Freshworker, was intended to launch in autumn 2010; however, a full-scale pilot now looks likely to be delayed until early 2012.

The project will involve the firm drafting in former lawyers on an ad-hoc basis to provide part-time or full-time support on specific projects. All of the lawyers will be employed by Freshfields on short-term contracts, with the scheme intended to help the firm deal with sudden upturns in work without the need to hire full-time staff.

The initiative has been pushed back as Freshfields focuses on other issues including flexible working and the new associate milestone system, which sees the firm moving away from associate lockstep in preference of more performance-based pay.

The delay will also be used to clarify the contracts used by those signing up to participate in the Freshworker scheme, following feedback from two three-month test cases in the intellectual property and dispute resolution practices earlier this year.

Freshfields global HR director Kevin Hogarth said: “With all of the new initiatives the firm has rolled out this year, we have had to delay the pilot of our Freshworker project to ensure that we can give it all the time and work needed to get it off the ground.

“We have carried out two test cases in recent months, which have given us some idea of the kind of tweaks that need to be made, and we hope to be able to carry out a full pilot by early next year.”