Experienced High Quality, Cost Effective Freelance Legal Support when Needed

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The Changing Business Model

Rise of the Freelance Support Attorney

The use of freelance support attorneys has grown in popularity over the past few years. This increase is the result of not only the changing economic environment but also because of the benefits received when a qualified freelance support attorney is properly utilized. These benefits include, inter alia, allowing solo practitioners and firms of all sizes to meet the demands of constantly changing workflow without having to turn work away or undertaking long-term commitments such as hiring a new associate, adding additional office space, purchasing a larger computer networking systems/extending the existing system or even investing in costly monthly research fees.


There is some confusion as to the role of a freelance support attorney. A freelance support attorney is a licensed attorney hired by other attorneys/firms to assist in the representation of the attorney/firm’s clients on a project-by-project basis. The relationship established with a freelance support attorney can be short-term or long-term, but is always flexible, as the support attorney’s role is to assist the hiring attorney/firm.  Once all pending projects are completed, there is no additional relationship or obligations between the attorney/firm and the freelance support attorney until a new project is assigned. The use of a freelance support attorney is permitted under the ethical rules, even when the support attorney is not licensed within the hiring attorney/firm’s state of practice. Neither the hiring attorney/firm nor the freelance support attorney are deemed to share clients other than those clients for which the freelance support attorney has provided legal assistance, keeping conflicts to a minimum. 


Associating with an experienced freelance support attorney allows solo practitioners and firms of all sizes to:


1. Expand the areas of practice that can be offered to clients while still complying with ethical obligations;


2. Temporarily increase the size of the firm on a case-by-case basis as needed to meet the constantly changing workflow to accommodate all new clients/work that comes in regardless of how busy the attorney/firm may be at that time;


3. Increase workflow while keeping client conflicts to a minimum as only those clients shared between the attorney/firm and the freelance support attorney become joint clients;


4. Save on overhead costs associated with growing the practice including, inter alia, taxes, office space, continuing education costs, and computer systems;


5. Receive substantive work product that requires minimal revisions;


6. Brainstorm ideas and strategies with an experienced attorney without having to permanently retain full or part-time associates or go outside the firm for assistance;


7. Pass along the more tedious tasks and/or those tasks least preferred to increase the enjoyment of the practice of law (For example: If you do not like the research and/or writing aspect of law but enjoy trial work, a freelance support attorney can assist by providing some or all the research and writing needed to operate the firm on a day-to-day basis when you need to focus on trial preparation);


8. Attract/retain more clients by offering lower hourly rates for work done by a freelance support attorney as a freelance support attorney’s hourly rates are significantly lower than other attorneys’ rates with the same years of experience;


9. Free up time to focus on expanding and developing client relationships, marketing and networking, preparing for an impending trial, settlement discussions or mediation/arbitration hearings and/or increase the amount of time spent with family or pursuing other business ventures; and,


10. Increase net revenue without having to undertake significant additional work by billing clients a higher hourly rate than that charged by the freelance support attorney.


The type of work provided by a freelance support attorney varies based on the project(s) assigned and the hiring attorney/firm’s preferences and/or client needs and can include all facets of legal practice including, inter alia: evaluating the viability of claims, preparing complaints and answers, drafting disclosure and discovery, preparation of motions, legal research, second level review to help pinpoint issues of concern and/or strengths, preparing for trial (preparation of summaries, outlines, identification of key exhibits and issues) and preparation of appeals. Depending on the attorney/law firm’s preference and/or the specific needs of the case, a freelance support attorney can simply be handed a file and told to prepare a motion or response; or, the support attorney may merely be asked to assist in preparing/responding to a motion by, inter alia, conducting necessary research, review and editing work already prepared or drafting a specific portion of the document. 


A freelance support attorney can also be an asset in the transactional attorney/firm’s practice by drafting and/or reviewing contracts, undertaking due diligence investigation, participating in business entity formations and/or preparing business documents such as, inter alia, non-compete and/or non-disclosure documents, asset purchase agreements, employee handbooks, etc.


A freelance support attorney can almost effortlessly be integrated into the hiring attorney/firm’s workforce. Insurance policies easily allow law firms to add freelance support attorneys under the existing policy(ies), usually with no or minimal additional premiums, as such policies generally provide coverage for anyone working for the attorney/firm. As a temporary member of the firm, information can be shared with the freelance support attorney while still maintaining client confidentiality. And, the use of dropbox and similar cloud technologies allows large amounts of documents and other information to be easily and securely transferred and manipulated remotely.



Increase Profits/Decrease Time Commitments

By utilizing the services of a highly qualified, experienced freelance support attorney such as Kathleen Gilbertson you can increase your satisfaction with the practice of law, increase your efficiency satisfying not only yourself but your clients as well and increase your overall profitability.


Establishing a relationship with an experienced, reliable freelance support attorney has become a readily recognized vital tool of firms of all size and particularly smaller firms and individual attorneys to allow them to effortlessly and efficiently take on new clients and increase profits even with a busy litigation schedule, when the opportunity arises, while keeping overhead costs to a minimum and remaining competitive in today’s unpredictable economy. 


With advances in technology, which allow for remote access work environments, utilizing the services of a freelance support attorney is easy and economical.


Revenue Comparison

The following analysis is based on assumed billing rates. The listed billing rates for the freelance support attorney, hiring attorney, and rates billed to clients are hypothetical only. Each relationship with a freelance support attorney is unique. 


A. Net Revenue without Assistance of a Freelance Support Attorney

Comparison “A” illustrates net revenue without using the services of a freelance support attorney.


Attorney/Firm bills 80 hours per month at $250 per hour:       $20,000 

Monthly Overhead:                                                                           ($1,500)

Monthly Net Income                                                                     $18,500 


B. Net Revenue with Additional Assistance of a Freelance Support Attorney

Comparison “B” illustrates the increase in net revenue for the hiring attorney/firm while making clients happy by lowering their monthly bills when the services of a freelance support attorney are utilized. 


Attorney/Firm bills 80 hours per month at $250 per hour:     $20,000


Support Attorney works 10 hours per week/40 hours 

per month at $100 an hour:                                                          ($4,000)      


Attorney/Firm bills client $200 an hour for 

Support Attorney’s 40 hours worked while lowering 

client’s bill by $50 an hour:                                                              $8,000


Monthly Overhead:                                                                          ($1,500)  

Monthly Net Income:                                                                    $22,500 


$4,000 increase in Monthly Revenue while saving clients $2,000 in monthly fees without requiring hiring attorney to work additional hours.


C. Net Revenue with Alternative Assistance of a Freelance Support Attorney

Comparison “C” illustrates that the hiring attorney/firm’s net revenue remains the same as it did without utilizing the services of a support attorney when the hiring attorney/firm works almost half as much and utilizes the services of a freelance support attorney, all while keeping clients happy with lower monthly bills. 


Attorney/Firm bills 48 hours per month at $250 per hour 

(freeing up 32 hours of the attorney/firm's time):                      $12,000


Freelance Support Attorney works 20 hours per

week/80 hours per month at $100 an hour:                                ($8,000) 


Attorney/Firm bills client $200 an hour for Support 

Attorney’s 80 hours worked while lowering client’s bill by 

$50 an hour:                                                                                      $16,000


Monthly Overhead:                                                                           ($1,500)

Monthly Net Income:                                                                     $18,500


Same as Attorney/Firm working 80 hours per month while freeing Attorney/Firm to reallocate 32 hours a month in time and saving clients $4,000 in monthly fees.

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August 20, 2019 Article: The Changing Business Model

The Changing Business Model.Rise of the Freelance Support Attorney (pdf)

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