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What Kind of Legal Work Can You Outsource? (In-Depth Post)

By Kristin Tyler
March 15, 2021

While simple legal tasks such as document review or research are the classic go-to’s for legal outsourcing, the reality is that every single day, lawyers are tackling their to-do list and getting more work done by outsourcing really complex work as well.

That’s because freelance attorneys are able to accomplish more sophisticated work than some may expect.

Legal work involving everything from writs to the U.S. Supreme Court, to highly complex appellate briefs, to nuanced intellectual property applications have come through our freelance lawyer marketplace. 

The main idea behind outsourcing a more complex task such as an appellate brief is that when you get to the point of the case where you're filing an appeal, you've lived that case for a long time. 

You've already seen it through trial and decision, you've worked with your client, and you yourself are really intricately woven into the minute details of the case. 

So it can be very beneficial to the case, the client, and ultimately, the outcome, to have a fresh set of eyes come in and look at the legal issues in the case — including strategy and the approach — and help you by writing a fresh appellate brief with a new perspective. 

In this article, while we’ll showcase more examples of complex legal work that you may not have realized you can outsource (and how to make that work), we’ll start by first discussing the simple tasks lawyers can outsource, since those are the more common ones. 

Note: At LAWCLERK, we help busy attorneys from many different practice areas find talented, on-demand freelance lawyers. You can choose to outsource Project-based work or try our subscription program (in which you can work with a virtual associate for a predetermined amount of hours per month). Learn more and sign up here.
 

Common Legal Work That Many Law Firms Think of Outsourcing

The classic go-to’s for legal outsourcing include the common tasks lawyers do each and every day:

  1. Research

  2. Discovery

  3. Drafting Documents

Below, we’ll give a few examples of some of these simpler kinds of tasks that can be outsourced to free up your workload. 

Research

It's inevitable that from time to time, you're going to have a new issue come across your desk that you don't know much about — and you’ll need to research it to get an answer. 

Clients love to come back after you've already completed their representation, but with a new legal issue facing them. And this issue may or may not be in your area of expertise, but you're still their lawyer and need to help get them an answer.

At LAWCLERK, we have a network of over 3,600 attorneys with experience in almost every conceivable area of law

Tackling a research memo is a great time to post that Project, select the area of expertise that’s required, and let the applicants roll in. 

On average, 12 lawyers apply to each Project, and their profiles include:

  • Bio and Resume

  • Writing Samples

  • Number of Projects Completed

  • Reviews/Ratings from Other Attorneys Who've Hired Them on Our Platform

Other than the sporadic times when clients hit you up with unique issues that need to be researched, there are the more common and very strategic research items that come up over the course of a particular litigation case. 

Maybe you need to know how a certain court or jurisdiction has treated an issue. Maybe you need to know how an issue is treated across the board in all 50 states and all jurisdictions, and you need a 50-state survey on an issue. And you need it done very quickly. 

That's a great type of task to get done by dividing up the list of all the states, hiring five different freelancers, and giving them each 10 states to dig into to find out how the issue is treated in all 50 states across the country. You can then combine the multiple memos in a very quick manner.

These are the kinds of tasks that are great to offload to freelancers, because not only are the tasks relatively simple, but they also free up a ton of your time to focus on more important case goals and strategy.
 

Discovery

Sometimes, the opposing party hits you with thousands of pages of documents — and of course, that’s a great thing to outsource to a freelance lawyer who can go through them, organize them, and summarize them. 

But you can also outsource much more substantive discovery needs. 

For example, say you work in family law, and your client has been served with interrogatories. We hear from all too many lawyers that when this happens, they send the interrogatories to the client. Then the client sends back a 20- or 25-page, single-spaced Word document, with a lot of emotional response to the interrogatories.

The lawyer now needs someone to sift through the client's massive document to find the relevant legal objections and answers that need to be included. They also need someone to form up the response, including all of the relevant issues and any objections that should be raised. 

This is a great project to delegate and outsource to a fellow freelance lawyer with experience in family law, to get that very time-consuming piece of work off of your plate and get it moving, in order to make sure it's done in a timely manner.
 

Drafting Documents

Whether you're a transactional attorney, or litigation attorney, you can benefit from the assistance of outsourcing drafting work to a talented freelance lawyer. 

Looking at this from a transactional perspective, we see any number of transactional-type documents going through our freelance lawyer marketplace, including deeds, leases, contracts, and agreements of all sorts. 

Any type of document you need created — especially if you happen to have a template for that document, and you need it to be customized to a certain set of facts — is a great task to outsource to a freelancer.

It’s great to be able to say, “Here's the template, and here's the checklist of how this particular item needs to be customized for the client.”

You can then have the freelance attorney go through and review the document with a fine-toothed comb in order to make those edits. 

Looking at this from a litigation perspective, it's easy to see how outsourcing can be a major time saver, especially when you get into motion practice and tight deadlines. 

This applies especially when you may already have a very demanding trial schedule that you're dealing with, beyond the pending motion practice and other cases. 

So motions of all sorts, briefs, replies, oppositions — any sort of comprehensive document you need in the context of litigation? They can all be outsourced.


Outsourcing More Complicated Versions of Common Legal Work

While many of the aforementioned tasks are often thought of as easily outsourced tasks if they’re simple, they can also be outsourced if they’re not quite as straightforward. 

There’s a vast amount of extremely talented lawyers who very intentionally choose to freelance instead of working in traditional settings.

This could be for many reasons, such as avoiding long hours and spending more time with family. 

These freelancers can help you with those more complicated tasks.

Below, we’ll explain how you can actually delegate much more sophisticated research, discovery, and drafting projects to freelancers than you might think.
 

Research

When it comes to research within a more complex issue, oftentimes the issue is in a gray area of the law, where there's no clear-cut answer. 

One great thing we've seen a lot of lawyers do when faced with an extraordinarily complex issue that they need researched is that, instead of delegating to just one freelance lawyer, they will essentially “poll the audience” by delegating one research project to three, four, or even five freelance lawyers.

Each freelance lawyer can do their own independent research, and come back with a memo to make sure that every single base is covered. 

This is a really clever way to outsource research, especially if you happen to be a solo attorney and are all on your own. 

You want to make sure you're not going to get out-lawyered by the other side and that you've thought of every angle — so it can be a really great advantage to your client and their case to survey the whole landscape and have not only one lawyer look at a particularly complex issue, but several.
 

Discovery

Many of the freelance lawyers on LAWCLERK choose to take on freelance legal work after, of course, having completed law school, but also after having some other career. 

For example, there are a number of freelance lawyers on our marketplace that started their working career in medicine. 

One LAWCLERK freelance attorney in particular had a 12-year-plus career as a nurse, but she decided she wanted to go to law school — she just didn't want to work full time at a law firm. Now she is a huge asset to many hiring attorneys who collaborate with her when it comes to their discovery needs, especially related to medical issues involved in a case. 

Her legal knowledge combined with her background as a nurse gives her unique qualifications to come in and help review documents that have been propounded by the other party or by an expert, often involving medical injuries. 

She can give really impactful strategy advice on how to approach them in the case moving forward, including what additional discovery the lead attorney might want to request or what types of questions should be addressed to the expert witness during an upcoming deposition.
 

Drafting

Recently, we were contacted by a first-time customer who was drafting a writ to the U.S. Supreme Court. It's important to note that this lawyer and his team have decades of experience combined, and they have a high profile national practice that specializes in criminal law and constitutional law issues. On their own, they have a great deal of talent and knowledge. 

However, there was one particular evidentiary issue within that writ that they weren’t as well versed in. And they very intentionally chose to have a freelance lawyer who knew more about that issue than their own team come in and help advise on that one complex issue within the overall writ. 

That — combined with the fact that we're seeing other lawyers come in and delegate entire appellate briefs right out the gate as their first project — shows that a lot of lawyers see the value of outsourcing complex drafting work through the LAWCLERK marketplace.

Note: At LAWCLERK, we help busy attorneys from many different practice areas find talented, on-demand freelance lawyers. You can choose to outsource Project-based work or try our subscription program (in which you can work with a virtual associate for a predetermined amount of hours per month). Learn more and sign up here.
 

Less Common, More Creative Legal Work You Can Outsource

When it comes to outsourcing legal work to freelance lawyers, the sky's the limit. We love to challenge hiring attorneys to be bold and creative, and force themselves to figure out how to outsource whatever pain point they're facing in their workflow or in their to-do list that they don't have time to complete, or which they don't want to complete themselves (since they’d rather focus on more important tasks, such as meeting with clients, going to court, and so on)

The following are just a few kinds of examples of out-of-the-box projects you can outsource to freelance lawyers.


Internal Employee Document Drafting

When the pandemic first hit in early 2020, a lot of lawyers needed to have various agreements or guidelines written for clients to address workforces that suddenly began working from home. 

Many of them turned to LAWCLERK to have talented freelance lawyers help craft these employee handbooks and guidelines in response to that need to solve a very unique and timely problem.

That said, regardless of urgent internal document needs, freelance lawyers can also help draft or update a typical employee handbook, taking yet another project off your administrative plate. 
 

Marketing Needs

There are a lot of lawyers succeeding at getting some very creative work done in the realm of their marketing needs. 

For example, we've seen lawyers outsource having blog posts written for their websites. 

Freelancers have also written FAQ-style guides for various client questions that lawyers routinely encounter in their practice. 

If you find yourself constantly answering the same client questions over and over, that’s a good sign it would be worthwhile to have a freelancer draft an answer guide you can send to clients. 
 

Mentorship

We've seen a lot of lawyers come right out of school and start their own practice — which is exciting! But oftentimes, those lawyers are missing out on some of the years of mentorship that can often be obtained through working in a firm environment for a number of years before launching out on their own.

Those younger lawyers who are newer in their careers can collaborate with freelance lawyers (who often have decades more experience than they do) on issues as they come up on a project by project basis. 

This way, they can get counsel and advice on how to address specific issues in a case. This can also help them avoid some landmines that they might otherwise have fallen into if they didn't have that more seasoned advice and mentorship on how to navigate certain issues.

Even if you have plenty of experience yourself, you may not be as well-versed in some areas of law as you are in others. That’s where a seasoned freelance attorney comes in. 

A growing segment of our freelance lawyers are either semi-retired or fully retired, and besides having expertise in areas of law you may not be as familiar with, they just genuinely love practicing law — and they love to collaborate with other lawyers. 
 

Get Started Outsourcing All Kinds of Legal Work Today

Whatever your pain point might be, or the particular item on your to do list in your practice that you just can't get to: figure out a way to delegate it. And don't be afraid to get creative!

For more information on outsourcing, check out our Ultimate Guide to Legal Outsourcing.

In addition, see our Attorney Resources page, where you can find ideas of work to delegate (organized by area of law), information on how to price a Project, various sample Projects (also organized by area of law), and much more.

Note: At LAWCLERK, we help busy attorneys from many different practice areas find talented, on-demand freelance lawyers. You can choose to outsource Project-based work or try our subscription program (in which you can work with a virtual associate for a predetermined amount of hours per month). Learn more and sign up here.

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