Make Money Mondays: Let Colleagues Know You’ll Accept Work On A Contract Basis

shutterstock_401567377Once upon a time in the legal profession, networking with more experienced colleagues was one of the quickest and most dependable ways to generate new business referrals. Generally, that hasn’t changed.

What has changed, however, is many firms’ willingness to refer certain matters. For example, many law firms have relaxed conflicts rules to enable them to retain cases that they otherwise would have referred out. Likewise, many solos and small firms are reluctant to turn down cases even when busy to capacity, preferring to keep the client and work longer hours or bring in freelancers to help out.

For this reason, if you’re seeking work through networking, you may want to give prospects another option to straight referrals: taking work on a contract basis. What this means is that instead of representing the client directly, you would work on a temporary or contract basis for the firm and handle most or all of the matter. Most likely, the firm would pay you a reduced hourly rate and subsequently mark-up your cost when passed on to the client to reflect the firm’s overhead, malpractice liability and extra supervisory responsibility. (Note: marking up contract lawyers’ rates is ethical in almost all jurisdictions).

We’re all familiar with the saying “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But the converse is true as well: if you don’t tell colleagues that you’re willing to work on a contract basis, they aren’t likely to ask if you’re interested.

Have you ever offered to take on freelance or contract assignments in your law practice? What types of matters have you handled? Or alternatively, have you ever hired a solo lawyer on a contract basis for overflow work? Please share thoughts in the comments below.


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