Experiencing Growth – Consider Hiring a Contract Attorney
While experiencing growth can be an exciting time, knowing how to support and sustain that growth may require you to explore how your firm can benefit from utilizing contract attorneys.
It is important to note that the nature, duration, and material needs of your firm should be considered when hiring or retaining contract attorneys to assist your practice. The following practice tips will assist you in creating and maintaining a solid relationship with your contract attorney:
Clear Expectations and Written Agreements
When hiring a contract attorney to assist you and your firm, consider the following:
Describe the Project: Your Contract Attorney Agreement should clearly and concisely describe the project to ensure that the parties are not confused about the nature of the work to be performed. During the interview process, it is important to confirm that the Contract Attorney has experience handling your desired task. If your project requires no experience, it is even more important to ensure that the Contract Attorney understands their role and the function that they will be performing.
Location: Your Contract Attorney Agreement should establish where and when the work is to be performed. It is not uncommon for Contract Attorneys to work from home or even from a Starbucks. If your project is particularly sensitive, you may wish to consider where the Contract Attorney will be located for the duration of the project.
Scope of Work: The scope of the work to be performed should be clearly articulated within your Contract Attorney Agreement. It may be beneficial to ensure that the Contract Attorney understands the scope of the work being performed if the project is large and there are many moving components. Please do not underestimate how some people forget the forest for the trees when they are excited about starting a new project.
Access to Client: Consider how your Contract Attorney Agreement should limit or exclude the Contract Attorney from access to the client directly. If you have a particularly sensitive case or client, it may be beneficial to ensure that the Contract Attorney never communicates with a client directly.
Access to Client File: If your project is large, sensitive or particularly complicated, it may be a good idea to ensure that the Contract Attorney is only able to see so much of the files. Additionally, if you have a Contract Attorney with a limited scope of work to be performed, it may not make sense to spend a lot of time going into all the details of the file.
Payment & Billing: Ensure that your Contract Attorney understands your billing practices and always pays on time. Define these conditions in your Contract Attorney Agreement.
Experience: Depending on the amount of experience that your Contract Attorney has, you may wish to establish supervising techniques that enhance your relationships rather than suffocate it. For example, should your Contract Attorney have little or no experience, it may make sense to establish progress reviews or benchmark audits of the work performed. On the other hand, if your Contract Attorney is experienced, you may be comfortable with hard deadlines. Regardless, the longer you work with a particular Contract Attorney, the more comfortable and familiar you will become with them and their needs.
Contact Information: Your Contract Attorney should know how to contact you directly in the event that there are any questions. Moreover, the Contract Attorney should know how to reach you after hours in the event of an emergency.
Start Small: When starting a new relationship with a Contract Attorney that you have never worked with before, I always recommend that you start small and afford yourself the opportunity to assess the quality of the Contract Attorney’s abilities before you become reliant or let go of the wheel. Starting small allows you to determine relatively quickly the skills and abilities of your new team members.
File Access: Consider what files and documents the Contract Attorney will need to perform their duties. I would consider limiting access to only those files that are reasonably necessary to the scope of work. There are many ethical consequences for allowing a Contract Attorney to have access to documents that are unrelated or unnecessary.
Conflict Checks: Before finalizing any Contract Attorney relationships, it is highly recommended that you conduct a thorough conflict check and have the Contract Attorney do the same. However, it is often a good idea to conduct ongoing conflict checks during the course of the Contract to ensure that if the Contract Attorney has more than one client or works with more than one firm that a conflict doesn’t develop later.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h