Court Appearances - You Get What You Pay For
If you are a busy attorney, basic court appearances can be a pain in the you know what. Especially simple ones that only require a continuance or an appearance because local court rules require you to.
So what's you solution? There are plenty of special appearance attorney services out there that make it easy to simply log on, post an appearance, and wait for someone to pick it up.
Now this is a great solution 99% of the time. I say this because as someone who is on the other side of those requests, most of the time the special appearances are fairly straight forward.
The usual appearance goes something like this:
"Good morning your Honor, (your name) specially appearing on behalf of (whichever side)."
"What would you like counselor?"
"My understanding is that we are requesting a continuance because of (insert reason)."
"Ok, we'll continue this for 30 days to (insert date)."
"Thank you your Honor."
That's it. It can be something else entirely, but for the most part that is what a special appearance looks like. So it is no wonder why attorneys would rather farm this type of hearing out to someone to handle it. I mean, certified law students can handle these hearings.
But what happens when it is not this simple?
Let's say for example you are going out of town. You have a pre-planned trip that is booked and ready to go and you are a couple days from leaving. Something comes up and you have to appear in court. Also this is not your run of the mill hearing. You need more than a continuance, you need someone to actually argue on your behalf. Someone who is going to advocate for your client more than just being an empty suit with a pulse.
What do you do then?
Do you put it up on a system hoping the right person comes along and picks it up? Do you ask for a favor from someone to hop in and take over? What if no one can do it or none of your contacts go to court on a regular basis?
I have seen on these special appearance databases attorneys asking for someone to step in and handle a deposition or a settlement. I have even seen people requesting for someone to run their court trial for them.
Isn't that crazy?
They are literally asking someone you have never met, never talked to, to handle something that could have a huge impact on your client.
I mean yes, you can hope that someone picks up the appearance that has experience. But I am going to be straight with you. The majority of people on these services are probably brand spanking new attorneys who are not that experienced.
You are not getting Harvey Spector. You are most likely getting Vincent Gambini (pre winning his trial).
(Disclaimer: I never accept appearances on these sites that I have no experience or business being at.)
What does this have to do with freelancing? Well a lot to be honest.
When you hire a freelance attorney you are getting more than just a faceless attorney to show up at your hearing. You are getting someone who actually is invested in helping you. Let's run over a couple good reasons why when you need someone to handle a special appearance, a freelancer may be the way to go.
1. They Are a Real Person You Can Talk To
Often times when I pick up these hearings, it is incredibly hard to get a hold of anyone to talk over the details of the case. You can send off an email, and maybe hear back from the paralegal with minimal instruction. In my personal opinion, this gives me a slight bit of anxiety, and it should give the assigning attorney anxiety too. You don't know if the attorney is going in blind or ill-equipped to actually do what you are asking.
A freelancer will make sure that they get on the phone with you, discuss the issue, see if there are any obstacles they should look out for, and make sure they are as ready as someone from your firm when they walk into that courtroom.
2. You Can Be Sure They Are Going to Give It Their Best
With special appearance attorneys, they show up, hear the ruling, and then submit results, end of discussion. The special appearance gets paid because they did their part, they appeared.
With a freelancer, they are running their own business as a freelancer and just like any business, they want repeat customers and good reviews. Since they are squarely responsible for the outcome, they are going to make sure that they follow procedure, follow your instructions, and most importantly fight for your side.
Which leads me to my last point.
3. You Can Build a Relationship With Them
With special appearance services, you have no idea who is going in on any particular case. You throw your appearance out on the inter webs, and hope for the best. It is kind of like Uber. Sometimes you get a great driver who you wish you could get every time, and then sometimes you get a driver who you want to open the door and tuck and roll out of the vehicle.
With a freelancer, you are building a relationship with someone who can help your business again and again. The more you use them, the more you are comfortable they know your style, how you present yourself, and any other firm specifics. This is a great asset to have because the next time something comes up, you know who to call. When you do, you can rest assured that they will do a good job and everything will be taken care of.
A freelancer may charge a bit more for a special appearance, but the truth is you get what you pay for. If you want someone in your corner who you can call at anytime, a freelancer is a good person to have in your contacts. If you want someone with a pulse to simply show up and hope for the best, then go with special appearance services.
I know if I had to trust someone with an important hearing, I would go with the former rather than the latter.