Maximizing the Value of Contract Attorneys: Best Practices for Law Firms

by Conor Looney | CEO | Jul 13, 2023 | Contract Attorney, eDiscovery

Contract attorneys are rapidly becoming essential in the modern legal landscape, integral to legal practice, providing vital services to busy and successful law firms. Contract attorneys are typically bar-admitted licensed attorneys hired on a temporary, as-needed basis, either by working through contract attorney staffing firms or direct hiring. 

From major corporate deals and litigation to minor transactional work, contract attorneys are increasingly relied upon to provide quick, high-quality, and cost-efficient legal advice. This enables a law firm to balance its permanent resources while ensuring that they are staffed to fulfil the demands of its clients. Contract attorneys have evolved into an effective tool for training and onboarding junior employees while controlling costs. 

The growing importance of contract attorneys in modern law firms shows no signs of abating. It reflects a changing and increasingly competitive legal market. In the era of business-oriented legal practice, law firms strive to address client demands while remaining cost-effective. Contract attorneys are quite beneficial when it comes to specialized legal matters. 

Practices law firms can follow to maximize the value of contract attorneys: 

Setting clear goals and expectations: 

Law firms must be clear about their expectations and goals from the contract attorney to make the most use of them. By setting clear expectations and goals, firms can ensure that all team members are on the same page and that everyone’s roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. A few key areas to consider include: 

  • Defining the Scope and Objectives: Prior to initiating any legal project, the firm should clearly communicate the goals and scope of the project to the contract attorney. This includes the type of services required, deadlines for completion, and any specific requirements or instructions the attorney should follow. 
  • Outlining Specific Deliverables and Deadlines: When establishing the deliverables the contract attorney must meet, it must be as clear as possible. This might include filing motions, conducting research, and/or preparing legal documents. Furthermore, the firm should agree on reasonable timelines the attorney must meet. 
  • Establishing clear lines of communication and reporting: Open lines of communication are key when working with a contract attorney. Firms must provide clear and frequent updates on the project’s status. Furthermore, the attorneys must notify of any problems or delays that may emerge during the process. 

Leveraging Contract Attorneys for Efficiency and Cost Savings: 

Using contract attorneys to improve organizational efficiency and save costs has been a more appealing alternative for firms in recent years. While this approach can save organizations money and reduce recruiting extra full-time staff costs, it is critical to use contract attorneys carefully for maximum efficiency and cost savings. 

Organizations should initially identify legal tasks that can be delegated to contract attorneys. Determining which services should be performed by contract attorneys and which should be handled by the organization’s in-house legal team is crucial. This will ensure that the use of contract attorneys benefits the organization overall. 

Organizations should strive to make the best use of contract attorneys. This can be accomplished by specifying project dates and parameters and assigning one or two employees as the primary point of contact with the contract attorneys. Clear instructions and performance objectives will establish a streamlined approach for contract attorneys to comprehend their tasks. It is also vital to assess the return on investment of using contract attorneys to see whether the cost savings and efficiency gained are worth the reduced rate provided by the contract attorney. 

Training and onboarding contract attorneys: 

It is essential to provide thorough training on the firm’s organizational policies and procedures and any specific legal tasks or projects that contract attorneys are expected to complete. As desired, this can be accomplished through orientations or individual training sessions. Providers should evaluate the firm’s code of conduct as well as other regulations pertinent to the duties of a contract attorney, such as confidentiality and billing standards. 

Offering guidance on specific legal tasks and projects also helps contract attorneys feel confident in their ability to execute their work well. Providers should be prepared to discuss contract attorneys’ tasks, assignments, and general expectations to ensure they are prepared to handle their work with the highest level of professionalism and expertise. 

Contract attorneys and full-time staff should be encouraged to collaborate and work together. This can be accomplished by offering networking opportunities and developing team objectives. It can also be achieved by having senior staff assess the work of contract attorneys regularly to provide constructive criticism and assistance as needed. 

Maintaining ethical and professional standards: 

Organizations must ensure that their contract attorneys adhere to the same ethical and professional standards as the rest of their workforce. Organizations should establish clear norms for ethical and professional behavior that all contract attorneys must follow. This should include strict standards for communication, ethical behavior, confidentiality, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. 

Organizations should also monitor contract attorneys’ work for quality and accuracy. Regular performance assessments should be undertaken to ensure that contract attorneys are meeting or exceeding expectations. This review should include management and other staff feedback to ensure that the contract attorneys adhere to the established ethical and professional criteria. 

Organizations should provide opportunities for ongoing professional development and training for contract attorneys. This could include complimentary continuing education classes or magazine and journal subscriptions. Contract attorneys should equally be allowed to participate in networking events and other activities that will assist them in maintaining ethical and professional standards. Organizations may ensure that their contract attorneys are aware of the most recent legislation and policies affecting their practice by giving these chances. 

Building Long-term Relationships with Contract Attorneys: 

Building long-term relationships with contract attorneys requires implementing measures to ensure positive and supportive working relationships. Providing contract attorneys with relevant feedback and support when they are encountered challenging tasks is essential in developing an environment of mutual respect and trust. Connecting with the same contractor or firm on multiple projects offers a better grasp of the working relationship. By creating a pool of trusted and reliable contract attorneys for future projects, access to experienced professionals can be virtual whenever needed. 

Offering incentives or bonuses for exceptional performance and dedication can be an excellent approach to motivate the contract attorney and build a mutually beneficial relationship. Employees are rewarded for their dedication to the job and encouraged to continue expanding their abilities. Regular reviews are also necessary for discussing progress and further developing professional connections. 

Conclusion: 

A contract attorney can be a valuable asset in any law firm, offering many benefits, including cost savings, expedited service, and access to specialized expertise. LDM Global can help ensure that your firm gets the most out of its offshore contract attorneys by thoroughly researching, recognizing your firm’s needs, and then assigning a suitable contract attorney. With LDM Global in your corner, there’s no limit to what your practice can achieve.