LAWCLERK, an online marketplace where attorneys and law firms can hire freelance lawyers and virtual associates, is expanding its hiring options today with the launch of its Hourly Associate program, designed to allow law firms to hire freelancers on a more-flexible hourly basis rather than by a discrete project or longer-term subscription.
“Our Hourly Associate Solution fills the gap between projects and subscription associates,” said Gregory Garman, LAWCLERK CEO. “It allows you to get more work done and bill more hours when it is difficult or impossible to know the scope of help you need on a monthly basis.”
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Since the company’s launch in 2018, LAWCLERK has offered the ability to hire freelance attorneys on a discrete project basis for a flat fee, such as to write an appellate brief or draft a contract.
In January 2021, it added another option, its Remote Associate Subscription, allowing firms to hire fractional associates for a set number of hours per month, starting at a monthly minimum of 30 hours. It is intended for law firms that need help with a steady and predictable level of overflow work.
The new Hourly Associate option is designed to fit between projects and subscriptions. An hourly associate can fill the gap between the one-off nature of a single project and the more permanent nature of a subscription associate, the company says.
“Hourly Associates give law firms of all sizes a flexible option for overflow work when it is difficult or impossible to predict the amount of time or even the amount of work needed,” the company said in an announcement.
How It Works
To hire a freelancer through the new Hourly Associate option, the hiring attorney will log into their LAWCLERK account and post an opportunity. The opportunity is then sent out to LAWCLERK’s network of thousands of freelance attorneys for anyone interested to apply. The hiring attorney can then review the applicants and select the top choice.
The Hourly Associate program is a one-to-one working relationship between the hiring attorney and the selected freelancer. Once the two attorneys are connected, the hiring attorney can send assignments to the freelancer as needed.
The program is billed as a pay as you go system in order to provide flexibility. LAWCLERK provides guidance on the hourly rates to offer freelancers based on the type of work. The hiring attorney pays LAWCLERK a replenishable retainer, from which it pays the freelancer weekly for the hours billed. The hiring attorney has full access to the freelancer’s billing records.
An hourly associate can perform any kind of written work and assist with research and discovery. However, LAWCLERK’s terms of service do not allow hourly associates to perform client-facing work such as taking depositions or attending court. If a firm needs a freelance lawyer to handle client communications, depositions or court appearances, they would need to use the subscription program, which does allow for full attorney services.
Garman said the use cases for a law firm are endless. One example, he said, is a firm taking on a new litigation matter. Early on, it may need a freelance lawyer’s help for 20 hours a month. But as discovery kicks in or the trial date nears, the firm may need 60 or 80 hours from the freelancer.
“It’s a tool, a flexible tool, to help you and your firm to be better lawyers and run a better business,” he said.