Are you a licensed attorney?
Yes. I am admitted to practice in Georgia.
Do you carry malpractice insurance?
Yes. I can provide a copy of my declarations page to you upon request.
Is outsourcing legal work ethical?
The American Bar Association weighed in on this issue in its Formal Opinion 08-451 and comments to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Opinion 08-451 states: “There is nothing unethical about a lawyer outsourcing legal and nonlegal services, provided the outsourcing lawyer renders legal services to the client with the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.” The ABA also stated:
“[L]awyers have found that, if they exercise proper care in the selection of a provider, work can be completed with greater speed and lower costs without sacrificing quality. These efficiencies may be of particular benefit to solo practitioners and small and medium-sized U.S. law firms, allowing them to better compete for large matters without fear that they will lack adequate resources to perform the legal work involved.”
[ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, Revised Proposal on Outsourcing, September 19, 2011]
You should consult your state’s ethical rules and applicable ethical opinions concerning outsourcing.
What about conflicts and client confidentiality?
I always perform a thorough conflicts check before accepting any project. I also treat all information you provide as confidential to the same extent as if I had a direct attorney-client relationship with your client.
Do I need to inform my client that I am outsourcing work to you?
The American Bar Association has opined that unless the outsourcing attorney exercises a “high degree of supervision and control” over the contract attorney, the client’s consent must be obtained before any confidential client information is revealed to the freelance attorney. See ABA Formal Opinion 08-451. The ABA went further in comment 6 to Model Rule 1.1, where it stated that the outsourcing attorney should “ordinarily obtain informed consent from the client.” You should consult your state’s ethical rules and applicable ethical opinions concerning outsourcing.
Can I mark up your hourly rate when I charge my client?
The ABA determined that a hiring attorney may mark up a contract lawyer’s fees, as long as the total charges to the client are reasonable. You should consult your state’s ethical rules and applicable ethical opinions concerning outsourcing.
What research resources do you have access to?
Currently I have a subscription to Westlaw Next, where I have access to all state and federal caselaw and statutes, and all of the Georgia secondary sources (including Agnor’s Georgia Evidence, Davis and Shulman’s Georgia Practice and Procedure, and Pindar’s Georgia Real Estate Law and Procedure, among many others). I believe that Westlaw Next is the best research software available right now—a conclusion I reached after taking the time to run a head-to-head comparison of Westlaw Next and Lexis Advance. Westlaw Next helps me streamline my research and reduces the amount of time I spend researching.
I also have access to several federal treatises, and can always track down specialty sources for you at a law library.
Do you contract directly with my client?
I only contract with the attorney for a project—never directly with your client.
If I use your for a project, are you considered my employee?
No. Just like any other legal service vendor you use, I am an independent contractor. You will not be required to pay employment taxes for my services.