Anyone interested in either hiring a freelance attorney or becoming a freelance attorney should read the Outsourcing Series on Lawyerist.com by Kendra Brodin. The 3-part series will cover 1) what outsourcing can do for you, 2) what tasks are suitable for outsourcing, and 3) how to find contract legal help.
“Part 1: When Does Outsourcing Make Sense” explains why outsourcing has become a good option for many attorneys, and explains the following six benefits for firms:
1) Better service to clients
2) More money in your pocket
3) Less stress
4) More flexibility in your schedule
5) Reduced risk of a malpractice claim
6) Career satisfaction
In the comments section of the post, Kendra reached out to MLG’s co-owner/founder, Laurie Rowen, for her comments regarding special contracts required for freelance work. Kendra quoted Laurie as follows:
One of the biggest mistakes attorneys make in outsourcing is not having a signed contract prior to the start of the first project. Both the hiring firm and the freelance attorney should demand a contract to protect their interests, and should make sure to include clauses concerning the protection of confidential data, whether the freelance attorney is covered by malpractice insurance, a confirmation that the freelance attorney is an independent contractor not an employee, ethical issues like conflicts of interest, and issues concerning rates and payment. For example, will the firm only pay the freelance attorney after the ultimate client pays (which could take many months), or will the firm pay the freelance attorney on a monthly basis, even if the ultimate client never pays their bills? All of this should be discussed and memorialized prior to the start of the relationship. Using freelance attorneys is an excellent way to keep costs down and reduce stress, but good communication and a good contract is essential.
“Outsourcing Series, Part 2: What Tasks You Can Outsource” states that the following are the most common tasks to outsource:
• Legal research – the most common
• Write motions or briefs
• Other litigation documents (like a complaint, answer, interrogatories, jury instructions, etc.)
• Attend and defend depositions
• Organize your files for trial, interview witnesses, or give advice in a complex matter.
• Writing an article or book or even preparing CLE materials
• Billing, accounting, and payroll (usually to a non-attorney)
• Public relations
The Outsourcing Series, Part 3: How to Find and Hire a Contract Attorney states that one of the best ways to find a contract attorney is to ask for referrals. Other options include going on-line to look for websites of contract attorneys and advertising through your local bar association’s website or newsletter. (Of course, we believe the best way to find a contract attorney is to contact Montage Legal Group!) Part 3 of this series also listed five tips to keep the relationship smooth:
1) Be clear and precise about your work.
2) Be clear on the payment.
3) Be clear on the deadline.
4) Be clear about your budget.
5) Be clear about when you will pay (…”Don’t make her payment contingent on your being paid by your client. No one wants to work for free.”)
Thanks for the great series, Kendra.
Kendra Brodin is the Founder and CEO of Kendra Brodin Companies, LLC and WomenLawyersOnline.com, a national resource for women attorneys launching September 8, 2010. Kendra is also a law firm consultant and CLE faculty focused on the hiring, retention, and advancement of women attorneys for law firms across the country.