Reclaim Your Life With A Freelance Lawyer with Lisa Solomon
Feb 18, 2021
Lawyers always have a lot on their plate. When working in a law firm, you will inevitably need help from other legal professionals for particular cases. However, we tend to hold on to the thought that we can do everything by ourselves, and we get burnt out before we ask for help. By outsourcing to a freelance lawyer, you can be more efficient and save yourself from being overwhelmed without breaking the bank.
In today’s episode, we’re joined by Lisa Solomon to talk about how she started and her work as a freelance attorney. She discusses her three-tier hourly rate structure that is efficient for freelance work. Lisa then shares two great pieces of advice that will get you started with outsourcing.
If you’re interested to know more about freelance legal practice and outsourcing, then this episode is for you!
Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode
- Learn the best practice areas for freelance legal work.
- Find out in-depth how freelance lawyering works.
- What is the best way to price your services as a freelance lawyer?
How Lisa Got into Law and Ventured into Freelancing
- Lisa worked for a law firm a few years after law school. However, the firm had internal problems among their partners, so she went to work for LexisNexis to train law students.
- As her job was coming to an end, her husband needed to do an appeal. He recommended Lisa to the opposing counsels, which was how she started freelance legal writing.
- She also worked as an of counsel for research and writing on coverage opinions at an insurance coverage firm.
- She eventually went out to get her own clients and establish her freelance legal research and writing practice.
Moshe: “A lot of times the thing that's our calling that we're really meant to do, it kind of happens by mistake; we don't even realize that that's what it is until we're in it. And then we're like, ‘Wait, I really enjoy this. I should be doing this.’”
Freelance Legal Writing Work
- The majority of Lisa’s work is on dispositive motions and appeals.
- Attorneys often only realize that they need help once they're already burned out.
- In big cities, freelance lawyers are part of per diems who make court appearances. However, the per diem model may die out soon.
- She primarily gets matched with clients through connections and networking, but people also find her through her website.
- Lisa says that freelance legal platforms are “a race to the bottom for fees.”
Freelance Legal Practices
- Some freelance lawyers would have a regular practice where they represent clients directly.
- The best practice area for freelance legal research and writing is anything related to litigation.
Lisa: “Criminal, I don't get many inquiries about, because only clients with a lot of money can afford to pay their own criminal lawyers. And clients who are assigned their lawyers, the assigned lawyer fees are pretty low. So they don't really have enough room in their fee schedule to take on a freelance lawyer.”
- While she runs the gamut of all practice areas, Lisa doesn't go into specialized areas like tax and immigration.
The Information Gathering Process
- She asks clients to send her all relevant motion papers and things that are going to be exhibited.
- Some clients write her emails with instructions.
- Often, they strategize via phone call.
Pricing a Freelance Legal Project
- Lisa bills hourly with a three-tier rate structure: a regular rate, prepayment discount rate, and volume prepayment discount rate.
- With her structure, clients can refund unused sums when she finishes the work ahead of time.
- If she needs more time, she gets a written authorization to exceed the deposit amount by that much time. Then, the client will make another payment.
Lisa: “I don't like surprises at all, and I know the hiring attorneys don't like them either.”
How Freelance Lawyering Works
- It’s unethical for hiring attorneys to list themselves as doing the work if they hired a freelance lawyer. Some attorneys don’t fill it out either because it’s a tough case or they’re short on time.
- Hiring attorneys don’t have to tell clients how much they’re paying a freelance lawyer’s work.
Lisa: “Just as if I were an associate, they would not have to tell the client how much they're paying the associate each year.”
- Lisa prices her services reasonably so that there’s room for profit.
- If the hiring attorney adds a profit margin to the fee, they will bill the outsourced freelance lawyer in the bill's fees portion, not the disbursements portion.
Are There Geographic Limitations in Freelance Lawyering?
Lisa: “No, freelance lawyers, especially ones who are doing research and writing, don't have to be admitted in the states and where they're doing that research and writing.”
- Lisa has done work for lawyers across the country, although most of her work is from New York.
Work Capacity and Getting Clients
Lisa: “Well, when I was looking at company capacity, I've generally been able to arrange things so that I can do all the work that comes in. With that said, I have a handful of attorneys who I can refer to if necessary.”
- Repeat clients are the best clients.
- To maintain top-of-mind awareness, Lisa sends monthly newsletters to her clients.
- Lisa has done speaking engagements at solo and small conferences around the country.
- She tries to have her programs be a little bit off the beaten path.
Lisa: “So it's not just how to win an appeal, but, for example, I have one called Pixel Persuasion, which is how to write for readers who are reading your material on screen. Special considerations on that.”
Piece of Advice for Outsourcing
- Lisa shares advice for hiring attorneys and freelance lawyers.
Lisa: “Don't wait to the last minute to outsource. Whoever you outsource to should have a written agreement. And I would say those two would be the best.”
Lisa Solomon is a freelance lawyer who provides legal writing and research solutions for solos and small firms. Lisa's innovative law practice has been featured in various periodicals like the ABA Journal and the National Law Journal. She is also a nationally-recognized author and speaker on contract lawyering and persuasive legal writing.
If you want to connect with Lisa, you can visit her website. You can also email her at [email protected] or call her at 914-595-6575.
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