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Expanding Your Reach: A Note on Billing Out Freelance Lawyer Services

April 20, 2010

In the course the Minnesota Bench & Bar’s recent article, “Expanding Your Reach: Engaging Other Attorneys’ Help & Expertise,” the article ran through the benefits of hiring a contract attorney instead of co-counsel. The author explained:

If you do not want the client to know you are using “outside” help, use a contract lawyer. A contract lawyer does not have to be disclosed to the client if there is close supervision of the contract lawyer’s work; however, it is a wise practice to always disclose the use of a contract attorney, if only to avoid the possibility that the client might be unpleasantly surprised.

Hiring a contract lawyer also makes sense if you want to earn a profit on the work. According to the ABA, you may earn a profit on a contact lawyer’s work if the work is billed as attorney’s fees.1 If, on the other hand, you bill the work as a disbursement, it should not be “marked up.”

Finally, consider hiring a contract lawyer if you need to have direct control of the handling of the matter. Employing a contract la­wyer has been likened to having an associate without the overhead. There is a sense of a boss and a subordinate.

In contrast to the hierarchical relationship that defines interactions with a contract lawyer, a cocounsel relationship is much more like having a law partner.

Check out the whole article, “Expanding Your Reach: Engaging Other Attorneys’ Help & Expertise” by Susan Dickel Minsberg.

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind that the author is addressing attorneys in Minnesota, and you should always check in your local jurisdiction as well with regard to ethical requirements arising out of the law practice of law.

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