An article in 8-K, Vol. 4, Fall 2008 at 7, describes groups of lawyers that are neither big firms nor boutiques. Reportedly also sometimes called “semi-virtual firms,” they include GCA Law Partners (Mountain View, CA), FSB Corporate Counsel (Atlanta), Axiom (NY), Phillips & Reiter (Houston), and Paragon Legal Group (San Francisco). The contract-services firms make available experienced lawyers on weekly or monthly contracts.
The article mentions several law departments that have availed themselves of such resources, including Network Equipment Technologies, Porsche Cars North America, Yahoo, and Cisco Systems.
An excellent point made by Paul Huie, an associate general counsel at Yahoo, is that hiring someone from one of these organizations “delays the decision point for you” and “gives you great[er] certainty for when you decide you need to make that [new] hire.” In other words, before you commit to bring on a full-time lawyer, you can fill a gap with a contract-service lawyer and keep your options open for a while.