10 Things You Oughta Know About Your Go-To Freelancer or Contract Attorney (in no particular order)


(10) RESEARCH PLATFORM. Whether Lexis Advance, Westlaw, Casemaker, Fastcase, RECAP, or Google Scholar, you should know where your researcher will be wading through the thicket. But don’t stop there; find out what kind of access she has. Not all plans are created equal!

(9) DOCUMENT HANDLING. Believe it or not, we sometimes receive actual paper documents in their physical, fibrous form, and always in giant, overstuffed banker’s boxes. These are easy to keep under lock and key. But, when documents arrive electronically, their handling and security is not so straightforward. It’s best to know what practices and procedures your freelance or contract attorney has when it comes to tech security as well as backup procedures, retention, and sharing.    

(8) RISK MANAGEMENT. Malpractice insurance is a murky area for freelancers, especially since the term “freelance attorney” (or “contract attorney”) runs the gamut. The attorney you are working with may or may not be covered under your existing policy (there is usually at least a notice requirement). Likewise, she may or may not carry her own policy. Either way, it is probably a good idea to investigate what kind of procedures she has in place to mitigate risk.

(7) STANDING WITH BAR ASSOCIATIONS. Check the status of each of your freelancer or contract attorney’s bar memberships. It will take you five minutes, and it will give you peace of mind when you see that she is discipline free.

(6) EXPERIENCE & EDUCATION. Does this one even need an explanation?

(5) WORKING HOURS. This one is often overlooked but can prove to be very important. The dictionary definition of freelancer is “free to work from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. if he or she wants.” Seriously, look in any dictionary. If you have information you need to relay and prefer to do it by phone, it is probably a good idea to know the best time to reach her because it may not be when you expect. If you are dealing with a millennial, just send an email. Millennials are downright terrified of receiving phone calls.

(4) TREATMENT OF DEADLINES. We lawyers operate with a healthy reverence for deadlines, and most people automatically remember to build a cushion into a project deadline to allow for contingencies and proper supervision. However, if you say, “The deadline is Thursday,” it might be a good idea to clarify whether that means beginning or end of day. If the answer is “end of day,” it might be a good idea to clarify whether that means 5 p.m. or bedtime. Your freelance or contract attorney might assume she has the evening to perfect her masterpiece while you might be counting on that after-hours review time.       

(3) EDITING & FORMATTING. You should know whether these are skills your freelance or contract attorney has. You should also set expectations for these from the beginning. Do you want to allow extra time for her to perfect her work to a level even the Bluebook drafters would be proud of, or would you rather handle the editing and formatting in-house?

(2) CONFLICT CHECKING. Does your freelance or contract attorney have a trustworthy system in place for this? It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it better be reliable.

(1) INVOICING & PAYMENT SCHEDULE. Let’s be honest. This one is number one because it actually is the most important. We all want to get paid. Here are some questions you might wanna ask your freelance or contract attorney. When will you be invoiced? When is your payment due? When can you expect that pesky W-9? And will you be getting a final statement?