Busy lawyers who want to streamline their practices need to learn to delegate more often.
The first step is to make a Not To Do List.
The second step is to find people to help you do the things on that list. Because if you can get people to do things for you that’s basically “human automation.”
And if you need help doing legal research (or other law-related work) then I have recommendation.
Check out one of the services that offers outsourced legal research. At the moment there are two well-known services that can help you:
- Law Clerk Legal (tagline: “Where Attorneys Go To Hire Freelance Lawyers”)
- Hire an Esquire (tagline: “The Modern Approach to Legal Staffing”)
Let me share a few observations about each of these, and then some advice about using outsourcing generally.
Law Clerk Legal
I’ve used Law Clerk Legal for a research project so let me offer my impressions of their service. Basically, it’s good enough that you should at least sign up, create an account and see how it works.
You don’t have to pay a sign-up fee (or subscription fee), so there’s no reason not to at least sign up and check it out.
I used them for a basic project regarding Texas law on the use of demonstrative evidence. I was doing a for a Texas Bar CLE program and needed some written materials that reflected “scholarly research.”
I took that to mean I’d have to supply citations to cases and not just yammer about generalities. So I posted a description of the project I wanted done on Law Clerk Legal’s website and then vetted the several candidates who applied.
The nice thing about this process is that anyone who applies is probably ready to get started right away, which is what I wanted.
The person offered to complete the job for $500. That might seem like a lot, but not if you value your time as I value mine. The job was going to take about 10 hours, and I’d much rather pay someone $500 than use up my time doing something I now despise doing.
If I were using Law Clerk Legal for a client I’d just allocate the expense to the client. So for practicing lawyers (especially solos) using someone else to do your basic research is a no brainer.
I was pleased not just because I didn’t have to do tedious legal research. But also because the written memo I got back was exceptional.
All I had to do was modify a few of the word choices (to suit my own idiosyncrasies) and then submit the paper to the Texas Bar, which then published the paper verbatim.
Here’s a link to download the paper so you can see for yourself what I got for my $500.
All of the attorneys in their service are U.S. based and licensed. Their attorneys can do all of the following:
- Perform legal research & draft memos
- Draft motions, pleadings, & briefs
- Draft discovery responses & pleadings (such as subpoenas, RFPs, RROGS, & RFAs)
- Perform document review
- Draft leases, contracts & corporate agreements
- Draft Wills, Trusts & Powers of Attorney*
- Draft Immigration Applications & Documents
- Draft Trademark & Patent Applications & Documents
- Draft legal articles & blog posts
The price for these various types of work will vary because you have to negotiate directly with the attorney you decide to hire, but here’s what Law Clerk Legal says are some typical rates:
- $150 for simple discovery responses
- $300 for a basic demand letter
- $400 to draft a retail lease
- $450 to draft an operating agreement
- $500 for a research memo
- $750 to do a document review of 7,500 pages
- $1,250 to prepare a Purchase & Sale Agreement
- $1,250 to draft a Motion to Dismiss a Complaint
- $1,500 to draft an opposition to a motion to dismiss
- $2,000 to draft an appellate brief
- $3,500 to draft a Supreme Court certiorari petition
I wouldn’t get hung up on the example costs, if they seem beyond your budget. You need to start leveraging outsourced legal help if you want to free yourself from the burden of doing too much work.
Learning how to delegate takes practice. And you need to learn to let go of some of your internal resistance.
My recommendation: you should sign up for Law Clerk Legal and try it on a small project to get a feel for how the service works.
That way you’re ready to roll if you need to have outsourced legal work done in a pinch.
Hire an Esquire
This service is pretty similar to Law Clerk Legal in that there’s no sign-up fee, nor any subscription fee.
You only pay for work that you contract for, when you contract for it.
Julia Shapiro is the founder of Hire an Esquire, which is based in San Francisco. She was an adjunct law professor, and an Am Law 200 contract attorney, so she has a keen grasp of legal outsourcing.
Hire an Esquire does pretty much everything that Law Clerk Legal does (from what I can glean from their website). But they will also help you find W-2 employees such as attorneys, paralegals, legal administrators, law librarians, and other legal specialists.
Here again, my recommendation is to take the time to sign up, and see what kinds of services they offer that make sense for your practice.
Successfully leveraging outsourcing is like winning the lottery because it frees up your valuable time.
Having more free time is a huge payoff. One that may be hard to appreciate until you collect on that payoff.
But just like winning the lottery, you do have to take that first step and buy a ticket.
It’s exclusively for solo and small firm lawyers that want to better manage and market their practices (so they can take more time off and enjoy life more)
Remember, when you set things up right (which takes time and strategic planning) you can have a firm that it feels like it’s virtually running itself.