Grill Your Freelance Attorney
Don't be afraid to turn up the heat on your freelancer.
This weekend, millions of Americans will enjoy their long weekends as they hold on to the last moments of summer. They will gather around grills and backyard patios to sip beer, eat grilled meats, and savor the time off.
Ok, so what does this have to do with freelance attorneys?
Well in a metaphorical sense, the point of this post is to talk about how you can't be afraid to "grill" your freelance attorney.
Get it? Grill? Because it's Labor Day?
Come on, at least give me credit for trying to make it work.
Anyway, moving on to the "meat" of what this article is about. (Sorry that's the last Labor Day pun, I promise)
When it comes to hiring a freelance attorney, you are taking a gamble that this person may work out for you. Unless you have an existing relationship with a freelance attorney, you are most likely scrambling for a freelance attorney at the last moment to help you with a project.
You can try your luck with local Google searches. Hopefully one of them will be good you hope.
Maybe you get a recommendation from a colleague? That's much better than a random search.
Or maybe you ran into a freelance attorney at a networking event and have their card laying around somewhere.
Either way, you needed a freelance attorney yesterday, and the clock is ticking.
Before you jump into any freelance attorney relationship, it is important to conduct any initial contact as you would with any other job. Remember, you are technically hiring this person to work on your behalf.
Would you hire a new associate attorney right off the street without interviewing them first? Probably not.
So it is important that you don't do the same for freelance attorneys. You want to be sure that you are entering into a beneficial relationship for both of you. Otherwise, the whole thing can go up in smoke (not a Labor Day pun I promise).
So what type of questions do you ask a freelance attorney?
Well since you are hiring them for a very specific reason, it is important that you focus your questioning on the specific task at hand. If you have a civil litigation issue, questioning them about their time clerking at the DA's Office probably won't be helpful.
Take for example if you are working on a litigation matter. You may ask the following questions:
How many pre-trial motions have you drafted?
What is your process for researching for a pleading or motion?
What is your approach to answering discovery requests?
How do you like your burger cooked?
Ok, so the last one is because now I'm thinking about Labor Day weekend too much. But the other questions are good starting points.
A solid approach to questioning any freelancer should be to follow my rule of 3 E's.
Experience, Expertise, Efficiency
First, you want to first make sure they have experience in the area you are working in. This is obviously helpful because you don't want to hire someone with no experience because you end up holding their hand throughout the process, which ruins the whole point of hiring them in the first place. How much experience they need is up to you. If you want to be hands off, the more experience the better. If you are willing to supervise, then you could probably go with a little less.
Second, you want to ask them about their expertise for the project you are hiring them for. Are they an expert at civil litigation? Are they a master at arguing at hearings? These things are important to drill down to. The more expertise, the better end product. Also, the less supervising.
Finally, the first two lead to the final E, efficiency. Without experience or expertise, they are unlikely to be very efficient at what they are doing. They will waste time just figuring out how to do the project and take too much time providing you with any results. You want to make sure they will be as efficient as possible in helping you complete your project. The last thing you want is someone who takes too long and gives you a motion at the 11th hour, and finding out you have to redo it because they don't know what they were doing.
As I stated before, most attorneys look for a freelance attorney when they really need help right now. They don't want to be bothered with long interviews. But if you are going to ensure you get the most out of your relationship with your freelance attorney, it's important to take just a bit of time to grill them on their skills and experience. This way you both know going into the project what is expected, and the end result is exactly what you are looking for.
Now, I'll take my burger medium rare, please.