Personal Productivity for Lawyers
This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.
In this second part of a three-part series on outsourcing, we’ll focus on what tasks are best for outsourcing to a contract attorney.
While it is possible to outsource almost any legal matter, you must make sure that your client is in the know. If your client expects you to personally handle the work, or it is a matter in which you are an expert, the job may not be suitable for outsourcing. You definitely don’t want your clients to feel they aren’t important enough to warrant your attention.
One of the most common tasks to outsource is legal research. We all know how time consuming it is to research, read, Shephardize, and reduce everything you learned into writing. Whenever you have a specific question that is raised in a case, a contract attorney can research and analyze the issue, and present you with a memo.
If you are comfortable with the contract attorney’s work, you could also ask her to write motions or briefs. If you don’t have a lot of experience with appellate briefs, or can’t objectively identify the best arguments for your motions, it might be wise to hire someone who is experienced and impartial.
A contract attorney could also help you with other litigation documents, such as a complaint, answer, interrogatories, jury instructions, etc. Non-litigation documents that a contract attorney could prepare include such things as trusts, securities filings, loan documents, and corporate articles and bylaws. Just remember that you are responsible for any document you sign, so read over everything very carefully.
You could ask a contract attorney to attend and defend depositions. You probably wouldn’t want to ask her to take a deposition because it would require a great deal of familiarity with the case, and you might miss the opportunity to ask questions. Other appearances she could make could include status conferences, settlement conferences, arbitrations or mediations, or be second seat at a trial.
There are times you may need someone to help organize your files for trial, interview witnesses, or give advice in a complex matter. Lawyers have also been known to hire contract attorneys for document review and analysis. This can be useful when you need to produce documents or want a chronology of important events.
If you are writing an article or book or even preparing CLE materials, you may want to hire a contract attorney to help write the first draft. If you’ve done the writing yourself, you might ask for help in editing and checking citations.
There are other tasks you can outsource that aren’t legal work. For example, you can outsource billing, accounting, and payroll as they are time consuming and sometimes tedious. You may want to hire people to create, organize and/or scan files to run a paperless office. You may need someone to transcribe interviews, or letters and memos you’ve dictated.
Another area that could be outsourced is your public relations, especially if you find yourself in a high-profile case. Or if you are building your practice, you might hire someone to develop your brand. On the technical side, you could look into outsourcing your website, your computer network, and your phone system.
As you can see, there is a lot of work you could hire someone else to do. Take a look at your practice, and see if there is a place for an outsourced attorney or other professional. You may be surprised to find areas where you could use the help.