November 2018 | Around the ABA

Two musts on hiring a freelance attorney

Work overflow? If you’re thinking about hiring a freelance attorney, expert Kristin Tyler offers good advice to first-timers.

Tyler is a successful Las Vegas-based trusts and estates lawyer, as well as the co-founder of LAWCLERK, a nationwide network that connects freelancers with those who need them.

In a recent post for the ABA Law Technology Today blog, Tyler shares “5 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Freelance Attorney.”

Here are a couple of her gems:

  1. The freelancer’s work isn’t a cost – it’s actually a recoupable service. “For example, if a freelancer reports they worked 5.5 hours to draft an agreement, and the market rate for their level of experience and expertise is $300 per hour,” Tyler says, “then you could bill your client $1,650 for the work even if you paid the freelancer a flat fee of $500.” 

    Editor’s note: The ABA Center for Professional Responsibility notes that the manner by which lawyers bill and charge for the work of contract lawyers is regulated on a state-by-state basis. Lawyers should consult their local rules of professional conduct and ethics opinions on such matters. ABA Formal Ethics Opinions 00-420 and 08-451 provide general guidance on this issue. 
  2. Ethics matter. When billing back the freelancer’s work, be mindful of Model Rule 1.5 and related ethics opinions that emphasize reasonable rates, Tyler cautions.

Other ethics rules to mind include those that prevent the unauthorized practice of law and oversight.

“Model Rule 5.3 ‘Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer,’ and Model Rule 5.5 ‘Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law,’ are directly on point and, importantly, authorize the use of freelance lawyers or other paraprofessionals,” Tyler says. “Take a look at how these rules have been adopted by your state to make sure you stay compliant.”

For more good advice from Tyler, read the full post here.

Law Technology Today was launched in 2012 to provide the legal community with practical guidance for the present and sensible strategies for the future. LTT brings together practicing lawyers, technology professionals and practice management experts from a wide range of practice settings and backgrounds. LTT is published by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center