Did you know that law firms estimate that by 2023, 20% to 40% of the lawyers they hire will be freelancers?
The idea of a contract lawyer is not new. For many years, clients have worked with lawyers on a time-bound basis. However, as the gig economy has become more prominent, technology has upended what a contract lawyer looks like.
It is now easier than ever to hire a freelance lawyer at the tap of a screen.
Here is a compact guide on how to successfully hire freelance lawyers.
Who Is a Freelance Attorney?
A freelance lawyer, also known as a contract lawyer, is one who handles legal work for clients but isn’t affiliated with any law firm.
A freelance lawyer operates as an independent contractor and can represent organizations, individuals, or even law firms. As with a traditionally hired lawyer, a freelance lawyer also has a specialization.
A freelance lawyer can choose to work with you continuously or as a one-off task.
They also work on an hourly basis. However, depending on how you negotiate with such a lawyer, they can work on a retainer or flat fee basis.
How much a freelance lawyer will charge you depends on both their experience and the scope of work involved.
How Can You Find Freelance Lawyers?
Thanks to the popularity of the gig economy, there are many online platforms through which you can hire a freelance lawyer.
On job board sites, a freelance lawyer will state their expertise and an hourly rate for you to determine who to work with. Depending on the type of job board, you can hire a lawyer directly or place your task for several lawyers to bid on it.
Some other platforms tend to be databases. Their objective is to match your needs to a lawyer who best meets your criteria.
For any freelance lawyer who is in it for the long haul, setting up a website is typically necessary. If you happen to hire such a lawyer, you will engage directly with them through their website.
No matter how you source a freelance lawyer, you should never work with one before you sign an agreement.
How Do You Launch a Project With a Freelance Lawyer?
Once you contact a lawyer of your choice, you will need to lay out the details of your job. That includes the deadline you are looking at and the name of the parties involved if any.
The lawyer will then assess your job for any ethical conflicts that may bar them from serving you.
If it’s all clear, you and the lawyer will then dive into the specifics of the job. That mostly happens through a call (video or audio). Where it’s possible to have an in-person meeting, you should opt for that over a call.
Aside from discussing the specifics surrounding the case during this meeting, you will also discuss compensation. As the client, you will need to lay out the budget you have for the job and check if the lawyer is agreeable to it.
In addition, you will both need to settle on a communication plan to ensure the job rolls out smoothly. That includes selecting when you receive updates and through which medium to stay in touch, among others.
At this stage, you’ll need to sign a freelance legal service agreement.
In many cases, it’s the lawyer who will draft and send it to you. Ask the lawyer to give you the agreement several days in advance of the signing for you to go through it. That will also give the lawyer enough time to make any changes necessary before the deadline to start working rolls in.
Once the project is completed to your satisfaction, the lawyer will send you an invoice. Based on the payment means you agreed on, you can pay and receive a confirmation slip via email that you can print out if necessary.
Tips to Enhance Working With a Freelance Lawyer
So you’ve decided to hire a freelance lawyer to handle your legal work. You have your agreement in hand, but still have lingering questions on how to optimize the relationship best. Here are some ideas to help you get the most out of working with such lawyers.
1. Don’t Overlook Experience
The danger for many people is to treat freelancers as a means of getting the most for the cheapest. Don’t hire a freelance lawyer who doesn’t have a wealth of experience you need simply because they are cheaper.
For example, if you need a personal injury lawyer, you should set aside a budget similar to hiring traditional lawyers. You’ll still have the flexibility of freelance service, yet avoid these injury case mistakes.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
Just because they are a freelancer does not mean you should be unreasonable. Expecting work that is 100% correct the first time around from a freelancer may not be realistic.
Therefore, for every duty you need handled, include a window in which you can review what they deliver. In case of any changes, you’ll have room to work them in before you need to close the job.
3. Set Your Freelancer up for Success
At the beginning of working with a freelance lawyer, you should take the time to give them all they need. Give as much detail as you can concerning the scope of work, all the deadlines, and what you expect. It may consume more time at the start, but it will empower the lawyer to deliver the quality of work you require.
4. Avoid a Rush Job
If you are testing out working with a freelancer, doing it when you are under a tight deadline is not the best time. Ensure you always give enough room in your timeline for the freelancer to deliver to your standards and for you to process the work done.
Find the Best Fit
The internet has made contract lawyers readily accessible. While it’s easier than ever to hire freelance lawyers, you still need to understand how legal contractors work so you can have a highly productive relationship.
Is there are a subject or issue that is on your mind? Check out more of our content to find a wide range of tips and insights to quench your curiosity.