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What is the Scope of Work that a Freelance Lawyer Can Perform?

The ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has addressed this question in Formal Opinion 08-451. In this Opinion, the Committee explains that attorneys may engage other lawyers working as independent contractors to perform a wide range of legal services. The Opinion states that these tasks can range from drafting patent applications to developing legal strategies to preparing motion papers for litigation.

The Committee further explains:

Outsourcing affords lawyers the ability to reduce their costs and often the cost to the client to the extent that the individuals or entities providing the outsourced services can do so at lower rates than the lawyer’s own staff. In addition, the availability of lawyers and nonlawyers to perform discrete tasks may, in some circumstances, allow for the provision of labor-intensive legal services by lawyers who do not otherwise maintain the needed human resources on an ongoing basis. A small firm might not regularly employ the lawyers and legal assistants required to handle a large, discovery-intensive litigation effectively. Outsourcing, however, can enable that firm to represent a client in such a matter effectively and efficiently, by engaging additional lawyers to conduct depositions or to review and analyze documents, together with a temporary staff of legal assistants to provide infrastructural support.

In essence, subject to ethical requirements, the scope of work that a freelance lawyer can assist you with is limited only by their capabilities and your ability to delegate.

Source: ABA Formal Opinion 08-451.

This Opinion is discussed in further detail in The Freelance Lawyering Manual: What Every Lawyer Needs to Know About the New Temporary Attorney Market.

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