It is not often easy to hire full-time lawyers if you have a smaller law firm, but there is a solution if you need support as you grow your business. Even in larger law firms, Freelance lawyers can help reduce running costs, allow your existing employees to concentrate on their core tasks, and improve the overall efficiency of your law practice.
However, hiring freelancers is not an easy task if you have never done it before. Here is a guideline to help you avoid certain pitfalls.
Experience is Important
Don’t just rely on the freelancer’s resumé when considering them. Call them in for a discussion about their background and freelancing experience. Find out what areas they specialize in and their other freelance clients and legal firms. Ask questions about their performance and ability to work in a team. Freelancing experience does not necessarily indicate a passion for their work.
Determine Their Availability
When hiring freelancers, it is essential to determine their availability to help you meet your deadlines based on their current schedule. In addition, find out what other projects they are working on and their commitments towards their other clients. Their obligations and availability are vital because if they are over-committed, they might not always be available to help you with urgent cases.
Find out if they have a firm and freelance to supplement their income, have another day job and freelance in their spare time, or if they freelance full-time. The answers to this information will help you determine if they are the right fit for your law office.
Understand Their Work Quality
Seeing samples of their legal work will allow you to determine the accuracy and quality of their work. Your law practice will determine what types of samples you need to see, but if you are a litigator and needs someone to draft motions, you need a freelancer with solid writing and persuasive skills. If you are a business attorney, attention to detail is another skill you might want to see in their samples. Therefore, a portfolio of writing samples is vital to helping you choose a freelancer.
Reasons for Freelancing
Legal freelancing does not suit everybody. Sometimes you may not be after expertise but an appetite for legal work, so understanding the applicant’s motivation can help you decide if they are the right fit. Be wary of candidates who don’t know why they freelance or are doing it to try something new.
A positive working relationship with a freelancer is essential to completing work effortlessly and effectively. In addition, the freelancer’s work for your legal office will make them a necessary part of the team. Therefore, you must have the exact expectations, and communications are vital. That means you should lay your expectations down about how you like to give work, and they should tell you how they prefer the work – one-off assignments, ongoing work throughout the case, etc.
Understanding the type of work the freelancer does and their schedule will make it easier to determine if they are the right fit for your law firm. For example, ask them if they also have direct clients or if they are freelancing. In addition, discuss how they communicate with clients and lay any ground rules about their communication with your clients.
Legal work is just as reliant on efficient communications as all other businesses. Working with a freelance usually means that they work remotely. Discuss the messaging or conferencing tools you are using, and find out if they are familiar with these or prefer other methods. Find out the best hours to communicate and how responsive you can expect them to be. Scheduling a regular meeting to catch up can help ensure a consistent workflow and cover any queries.
Ensure that your work hours correspond, or at least make sure you know when they are available if the freelancer works from another time zone. The best freelancers work around their client schedule and are not rigid about their work hours.
Identify your freelancer needs before connecting with various freelancers. There are several ways to find a freelancer once you decide, but don’t fall into the trap of picking the first lawyer you meet. Instead, discuss all the above issues with them first, and once satisfied, agree on a price and proceed.