Over the past two months, we’ve discussed how to decide what to delegate to a freelance lawyer and the importance of clear communication to a successful engagement with a freelance lawyer. Two additional best practices can help you maximize the benefits—to both yourself and your clients—of working with a freelance lawyer.
Share Relevant Information
Keep in mind that, unlike an associate in your office, a freelance lawyer hired for a project-based engagement will not (and should not) have access to all of your case files.* Therefore, at the beginning of every engagement, it’s important to identify all documents in the file that the freelance lawyer will need to complete the work, and either provide them to the freelance lawyer or provide the freelance lawyer with a list of relevant documents and access to the entire file. Similarly, if you have written policies and procedures; workflows; and/or templates that an associate would be expected to use when working on a particular type of project or case, you should share those resources with any freelance lawyer hired to work on the same type of project or case. Finally, be sure to timely respond to questions that arise during the course of the engagement.
Allow Sufficient time for Review and Revisions
When delegating work to a freelance lawyer, build in enough time before the “hard” deadline (e.g., the date the summary judgment opposition must be served and filed) to adequately review the work product and (if necessary) send it back to the freelance lawyer for revisions. If initial assignments are clear; you communicate as necessary during the course of each engagement; and you provide constructive post-engagement feedback, a freelance lawyer’s written work product generally shouldn’t require major revisions (and certainly shouldn’t require such revisions after the first few engagements).
*Under appropriate circumstances (e.g., a freelance lawyer working 30 hrs/wk for two months while an associate is out on FMLA leave), you may give a freelance lawyer broader access to your files.