Clients’ requests for alternatives to the infamous billable hour are on the rise. Freelancing attorneys are just one group of professionals changing the way we practice law by utilizing new ideas and strategies to provide legal services. Sometimes a solo practitioner or small law firm needs additional help, but may be wary of bringing on a full time attorney in today’s economic environment. Below are five benefits to solo practitioners and small firms that hire freelance attorneys.
1. Freelance Attorneys Cost Less
This is a no-brainer. Freelance attorneys cost less than a full-time associate. There are zero overhead costs like insurance, office space, or secretarial support. With today’s cost-conscious clients, many times it simply makes financial sense to turn to a freelance attorney for assistance on a time-limited project. Freelance attorneys can charge a flat fee or low hourly rate for their services, and because they work for themselves their fees are reasonable and reflect their minimal overhead expenses.
2. Solos and Small Firms Can Profit From Freelance Attorneys
According to ABA Formal Opinion 00-420, a surcharge to the cost of using a freelance lawyer is appropriate, as long as the total charge represents a reasonable fee for services. Further, by outsourcing projects that a freelance attorney is better situated to handle, solos and small firms free up their time to accept other profitable work and to develop their book of business.
3. Freelance Attorneys Provide Honest, Quality Work
Without big-firm pressures to meet billable hour requirements, freelance attorneys complete the assignment requested. Nothing more, nothing less. For example, parties may agree ahead of time to a flat fee for a motion to dismiss or a research project that is to be billed by the hour, but not to exceed a set range of hours. This alleviates the client’s concern that the attorney is “churning fees” and ensures a quality work product. Further, the freelance attorney will work hard to impress and maintain the relationship with the retaining attorney. Freelance attorneys can be selective about their assignments, so you can be assured that your freelancer is excited about the work and willing to put forth their best effort.
4. Hiring a Freelance Attorney Allows You To Provide Better Service to Your Clients
Feeling overwhelmed by an impending motion for summary judgment, or putting off tackling that research project because you do not know where to start? Turning to a freelancer can ease those pressures and allow you to focus on the aspects of practicing law that make you tick. Some attorneys simply do not like to write or research, and others cannot stand the thought of document review. Again, because freelancers can be selective about their work, you can be certain your project will get the full attention it deserves.
5. Freelance Attorneys are Flexible
Freelance attorneys are not always the same as “contract attorneys.” Freelance professionals are self-employed, handle their own fees, offices, schedules, professional fee obligations, and the like. They are paid as a 1099-reportable independent contractor. To hire a freelancer, you do not have to deal with (or pay) a third-party agency or placement coordinator. The process is simple with no hidden costs or red tape. The relationship between the freelancer and the retaining attorney can be one-time or ongoing.
Bottom line: Freelance professionals are there to make your practice simpler, more productive and efficient while passing financial savings along to your clients.
© Junilla Sledziewski 2012.