Contract attorney

contract attorney is a lawyer who works on legal cases on a contract basis. Such work is generally of a temporary nature, often with no guaranteed employment term.

A contract attorney is

An attorney temporarily hired by the law office for a specific job or period. When the job is done, the relationship is over.

– Brent D. Roper [1]

Civil litigation

The work of contract attorneys often varies. They can be engaged activities Such As Document review in response to a paper subpoena or request for output of documents. In Such projects, contract attorneys review May tens of Thousands, if not millions of pages of documentation and mark ’em as responsive to a request Particular, or protected as attorney work product gold from under the attorney-client privilege . Large companies have learned that contract attorneys can perform this work much more expensive than high-priced associates.

Many contract, or freelance, attorneys perform legal research , draft legal briefs , and provide a full range of other services to law firms of all sizes. These attorneys typically work for themselves, rather than for temporary agencies, and provide their services to other law firms on an as-needed basis. [2]

Some people who hold a doctorate degree , but who are awaiting bar admission , work as temporary lawyers in doing the same kind of work as contract attorneys. In other situations, a law firm May, due to a conflict of interest, be required to hire a contract attorney did Cumis counsel in some cases.

Contract attorneys typically work on a project-by-project basis and are not full-time law firm employees. However, they also develop long-lasting relationships with firms that regularly or semi-regularly send work to the contract attorney. Many small firms find that they have the flexibility to grow their business without hiring employees. [3]

According to the American Bar Association , law firms can add a surcharge to the fees of their contract attorneys. [4] Particularly in a slowing economy, the use of contract attorneys in a marketplace, helping them to control costs while increasing profitability. [5]


In writing about the disparity between CEO and worker pay, New York Times best-selling author and social critic Barbara Ehrenreich said:

Similarly, the legal profession, which is topped by law firm partners billing hundreds of dollars an hour, now has a new proletariat of temp lawyers working for $ 19-25 an hour in sweatshop conditions. On sites like, temp lawyers report working 12 hours a day, six days a week, in crowded bases with inadequate sanitary facilities. According to an article in American Lawyer , a lawyer at a major New York firm reports being ‘corralled in a windowless basement room with dead cockroaches,’ where six out of seven exits were blocked. [6]

Assigned counsel work in criminal defense

In counties without a public defender , or without an alternate defender , a contract attorney May be hired to do assigned counsel work. A legal aid group May be hired to do work Such as if a temporary work agency , Such As the Legal Aid Society of New York City . Other states or counties may act as contract attorneys. Some critics of this system have accused the method of leading to ineffective assistance of counsel in criminal cases .

Contract legal assistant

Main article: Paralegal

A law firm may, under certain circumstances, hire a freelance paralegal , commonly known as a contract legal assistant, to perform many of the tasks that a contract attorney might perform. [7]

See also

  • Attorney of record
  • Of counsel


  1. Jump up^ Brent D. Roper,Practical Law Office Management, 3rd ed., Pp. 5 (2007 Thomson Learning).
  2. Jump up^ “Full Service Freelance Litigation Support Information” .
  3. Jump up^ Velazquez, Ashley. Small Firms: The Benefit of Contract Attorneys . Hire an Esquire . Retrieved 7 March 2017 .
  4. Jump up^ “Summary of American Bar Association Formal Opinion 00-420: Surcharge to Customer for Use of a Contract Lawyer” .
  5. Jump up^ “The Myth of Associate Profitability: Why Freelance Legal Services Preserve Profit Margins in an Uncertain Economic Climate” .
  6. Jump up^ Ehrenreich, Barbara (28 March 2008). “Going to Extremes: CEOs vs. Slaves” . Huffington Post .
  7. Jump up^ Brent D. Roper,Practical Law Office Management, 3rd ed., Pp. 8-9, 147 (2007 Thomson Learning).

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