This is a guest post by Bob Meltzer, CEO and founder of LawyerExchange.
The “gig economy” has been a hot topic in recent years thanks to its steady growth. In fact, freelance work — which fuels this growth — is adding $715 billion annually to the economy. Non-traditional work arrangements drive the gig economy, and it’s only going uphill from here. In fact, 7.6 million Americans will be working in the gig economy by 2020, according to a study by Intuit Inc. And it’s no wonder the gig economy is on the rise, because it’s equally as beneficial for employers as it is for workers.
It seems as though nearly every industry has figured out away to tap into this new way of working, even the industries that don’t seem suited for it right off the bat — for example, the medical industry.
So, this begs the question… If doctors have gone digital,why haven’t lawyers?
There are few industries that aren’t taking advantage of technology and the gig economy, and the legal industry is one of them. This is where something called “project work” comes into play.
Project work brings the legal industry to the gig economy,changing the way we practice law today. Not only does it create a large amount of new jobs for lawyers, but it will also allow seasoned lawyers to grow their practice much more quickly and efficiently without needing to rely on legal recruiters.
Let’s see how hiring on a project basis can help create work opportunities for lawyers and law practices:
Perhaps the largest benefit to legal project work is reduced firm costs. With project work, law firms are able to pass these savings on to the client or bill the client a higher rate than they paid the project lawyer (similar to the traditional practice of up-charging clients for hourly associate rates). This is a simple, yet effective, way to turn a profit for your firm while still offering a cheaper rate than the traditional billing structure.
Additionally, costs can be cut by using contracted workers and technological processes that most law firms do not have or cannot afford. Moreover, legal project work helps enhance the workflow process, which cuts down on time and cost. This is a big deviation from the traditional billable hour structure, which often strips clients the ability to know what projects are worked on, how fast the work is being performed, and by whom the work is being completed.
Another key component of legal project work is process management and time flexibility. In essence, process management is finding the most efficient way to complete routine, daily tasks. With one point of contact for each task, law firms can delegate tasks to attorneys whose sole job is to complete that assigned work. Having well-planned process management strategies means legal project work companies have highly accurate means to efficiently complete tasks and reduce client prices across the board.
Lawyers who do project work are typically paid by the hour and have no obligation to fulfill annual billable hour requirements. Moreover,they can choose when and how they want to work as long as the work gets completed as requested. This employment setup appeals to a variety lawyers with specialized expertise that firms usually might not have access to. Accordingly, this opportunity creates an environment where attorneys with specialized work are available at a reasonable rate.
Popular areas of expertise that are typically sought after when using legal project work includes: litigation; due diligence; internal investigations; contract management; patent valuation and portfolio analysis; and compliance programs that surround employment law, corporate governance, cyber security and data privacy.
Turning to outside help can be a valuable business strategy. That’s why so many firms have already used document reviews and traditional legal outsourcing like legal staffing agencies. However, outside help usually means relinquishing control over the work that gets done, which is an unappealing factor to some firms.
Project work is uniquely advantageous in that it provides the ability to utilize outside help, but in a way that allows firms to retain control over their work.
For example, consider hiring processes. Firms utilizing document review and legal outsourcing companies don’t actually hire the individual lawyers doing the work. But, with project work, firms can hire the lawyers of their choice, and they can easily do so whenever they want.
It matters which lawyers work for your firm. So, if you actually want to choose and know the lawyers working for your firm, consider project work.
In addition to having control over the hiring process,project work also gives firms control over the work completion process — something not part of the document review and legal outsourcing models.
A project work service built upon modern technology, but which focuses on personalized teamwork, is a winning combination. Though firms want to reduce costs, it would be nice if firms could still know what’s happening with their work while it is being completed, just like what happens with work at the firm.
As a result of personally hiring the lawyers working on your projects, you will actually know which lawyers are working on which tasks. This gives you the ability to easily check in with those lawyers at any time.
The same cannot be said with document reviews and legal outsourcing, which have little, if any, interaction between the firms and the lawyers doing the work for those firms.
Additionally, the unique structure of project work allows firms to participate in and/or supervise the work completion process to any extent at any given time. That being said, project work provides on-demand collaboration that’s perfect for busy lawyers.
Project work is an effective way to more easily achieve growth in a competitive market for new and established firms while providing new attorney jobs. The flexibility of project work makes it a scalable solution that can be used on an as-needed basis, which helps firms get work done more cost effectively.
It’s a winning solution that provides firms with new work opportunities to develop, grow, and focus on what matters most with their law practice.
If your law firm is ready to try hiring on a project basis, LawyerExchange is the perfect solution. Join and post a project in minutes for free and without any commitments or risk! You won’t pay anything until your work is complete. LawyerExchange makes hiring a Project Lawyer pain-free. Manage your proposals, messages, invoices, and even payments, all within the platform.
To learn more, visit LawyerExchange.com/Hiring-Lawyers.
Bob Meltzer is an entrepreneur, business builder and lawyer. He founded and currently operates LawyerExchange, which provides access to meaningful project work and opportunities for mentorship to lawyers from small and solo law practices. Prior to LawyerExchange, Bob also founded and operated VISANOW Inc., a high-growth, privately held company offering breakthrough, technology-enabled global mobility services.