A few weeks ago, I earned $1000 for a couple of hours offering some insights in my practice area. While certainly not a large enough fee to close up shop for the month, it was a tidy little windfall that helped cover some home repairs that I’d put off for a while.
What if there were a way to regularly convert legal expertise into extra money? Now there is, with a new platform, launched at the end of 2014, called Hire.Bid. The brainchild of Neil Sandu, a lawyer and technologist who conceived of and developed the site, Hire.Bid:
allows professionals in the U.S. to auction their available time (whether on nights, weekends, or otherwise) to be bid upon by prospective clients needing a helping hand on anything from complex matters to simple tasks.
So how is Hire.bid different from the myriad of on demand, auction or legal consults on the spot platforms cropping up ever day? Well, for starters, Hire.bid though started by a lawyer isn’t limited to lawyers – so you can find web developers, financial analysts, graphic designers and other professionals. Second, service providers set the price for their services rather than the platform setting rates or extracting discounts.
But in my view, the Hire.bid’s unique selling proposition is that it facilitates the buying and selling of discrete blocks of time, and in so doing, removes the transaction costs to these micro-projects. For example, I frequently field calls from community organizers, municipal officials or even other attorneys who want information on how the FERC pipeline certificate process works. Many of these callers are willing to pay a few hundred dollars for my insight – yet by the time I draft a retainer agreement, send an invoice and take the call, it’s almost not worth it so instead, I wind up giving away advice for free. A system like Hire.bid removes those transaction costs (at least I think it does by processing fees through the site). I could include the scope work in the description of services, a customer would click and I’d be paid. Plus, I could offer the time in blocks that doesn’t interrupt my day (which is also an added cost).
How might solos and smalls make use of Hire.bid? First, they could sign up to sell services – for example, a small business lawyer might offer a “start up consultation pack” to discuss with a small business owner what type of corporate structure would be most appropriate. Or a firm could offer a weekend or evening strategy session to brief a company on employment law or compliance matters. Second, solos and smalls can use Hire.bid to procure design or development services or advice from high end professionals.
Since MyShingle is a blog for lawyers, I always like to address the ethics of many of these new concepts. Certainly, conflicts rules continue to apply with Hire.bid – you couldn’t accept a job advising Company A on a breach of contract lawsuit against Company B one day, and accept a job from Company B the next. Likewise, you want to take care to define the scope of your services so you don’t wind up with a malpractice suit alleging you didn’t address a matter that wasn’t inside the scope of services. For example, if you offer a block of time to review or draft an employee handbook, you may want to clarify that this work doesn’t include advice on health insurance or tax issues which should be dealt with by an accountant or benefits expert. Finally, if you’re currently working at a firm or another job and looking to Hire.bid as an added source of revenue, be aware of applicable moonlighting restrictions that your employer might impose.