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Two examples of secondment

After being spun off in 2005 from Bayer Chemicals Corp., LANXESS had a legal department of seven attorneys. Not having enough capability in intellectual property the new department obtained from the US law firm Pepper Hamilton several seconded staff. The secondments included “IP attorneys, an IP paralegal and patent agent – on a full-time basis.” The terms of the arrangement are not further explained in GC Mid Atlantic, Sept. 2006 at 9.

The same magazine (at 30) describes how Philadelphia-based Duane Morris recently seconded an associate to its client Minerals Technologies “when the company was short a patent attorney and overwhelmed with work.” The secondee spent six months at Minerals.

Seconded attorneys usually work at lower rates than the firm’s standard rates, and the client and the firm can negotiate all manner of flexible time and fee arrangements that benefit both parties.

“Unlike contract attorneys who generally work for one client at a time, seconded attorneys have ongoing matters that may flare up during their secondment, taking them off the job and leaving clients scrambling for replacements.” It is also important to decide in advance whether a replacement attorney will be provided during the secondee’s vacations or unexpected absences as well as, according to the article, to provide for the payment of recruiters’ fees if the secondee is hired away by the client. Why? Do law departments pay their firms placement fees if they otherwise hire associates or partners?