Newsletters, podcasters, speakers, and publications have been preaching the same warnings for years – “ the business of law is changing,” “the billable hour is dying,” and “quality of life is replacing partnership track.”
We all know the issues, but what is the answer? How do attorneys prosper in this evolving legal market? For solo practitioners and small firms, outsourcing legal work to freelance lawyers can be the solution. By outsourcing work to freelance lawyers, attorneys can:
1. Leverage the time of other attorneys without the significant expense of full-time employees. As there are only 24 hours in the day, the only way to increase the legal services you provide (and therefore your profits) is by engaging other attorneys to assist you so that you can accomplish two, three, or four times as much in the same 24 hours. This is the premise underlying the old associate leverage model. However, with the burgeoning nationwide network of skilled freelance lawyers, you can add subject matter expertise to your practice when and only when you need it without adding overhead. The use of freelance lawyers brings the dated associate model into the modern world making both the hiring attorneys and the freelance lawyers more profitable.
2. Have flexible staffing. Most attorneys’ practices ebb and flow, such that one week they need three extra attorneys to fully service their clients’ needs and the next week they only need one. By engaging freelance lawyers, attorneys can avoid: (i) missing clients’ desired (though often self-imposed) timelines; (ii) pulling all-nighters; (iii) turning down new clients; and (iv) hiring employees that find themselves without work to do in slow weeks, which are a drain on profitability, client retention, and quality of life.
3. Move away from the billable hour. Law firm realization of standardized rates have been declining dramatically since 20071 as clients are demanding more certainty in pricing. While legal influencers often talk about this in terms of alternative fee arrangements like flat fees, this “overlooks a major shift that has occurred over the past decade: the widespread client insistence on budgets (with caps) for both transactional and litigation matters.”2 Using freelance lawyers allows attorneys to meet clients’ billing demands without negatively impacting their profit margin. For instance, if you know that you will pay a freelance attorney $1,500 to prepare a motion for summary judgment and $1,000 to prepare a reply, you can comfortably quote a flat fee for motion practice, thereby meeting the client’s need for certainty without assuming the risk of nonpayment.
Start incorporating freelance lawyers into your business model by visiting www.lawclerk.legal today.
1Georgetown Law Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and Thomson Reuters, 2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market (Jan. 10, 2018), p. 18, available at http:/ /www.legalexecutiveinstitute.com/2018-legal-market- report/.
2Id. at p. 10.