Five Steps That Attorneys Can Use to Manage and Enjoy the Holidays

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which means that other holiday activities are just around the corner. With gatherings to attend and organize, gifts to buy, houses to clean, and meals to plan, most people experience some stress during the holidays. For those with already demanding schedules, the added obligations of the holidays can get overwhelming. Try these easy steps to manage the holiday season: 1. Pay attention to your health. Whatever you currently do to maintain your health, don’t stop. Remember that food, beverage and exercise choices can affect your sharpness at work and your ability to handle stress in general. Quiet time, meditation, and adequate sleep will also help your mood and concentration. 2. Plan. Make a plan for getting through the next month. Note all important personal obligations, work deadlines, and other events. Don’t add unnecessary obligations to your to-do list until you have filled in the mandatory. 3. Manage expectations. Both at work and in your personal life, advise interested parties (including family and clients) of what they can expect from you for the next month. Keep your own expectations realistic as well. 4. Delegate. Consider enlisting help for holiday shopping, meal preparation, and house cleaning. At work, speak with your legal assistant, paralegal, and associates about how they can help keep on top of necessary obligations and files in which you expect activity. If you don’t have support in your office, a freelance attorney may be able to help with your workload. 5. Be Present. Once you have chosen to spend time with your family and friends instead of working, be there. If you successfully managed the expectations of your colleagues and clients as suggested in Step 3, you can limit your availability without causing an upset. As much as possible, put your phone away and enjoy where you are. The Minnesota Freelance Attorney Network wishes you...

Sample Written Agreement for Freelance Attorney Work

As discussed in a previous post, the best practice for a freelance attorney is to use a written agreement for every freelance work engagement. The written agreement should clearly define the project terms for both the freelance attorney and the hiring attorney, including ethical and legal considerations. Due to the quick turnaround time of some requests for freelance help, having a form freelance work agreement that can be quickly tailored to each engagement is the most practical course of action. In her book, The Freelance Lawyering Manual, author Kimberly Alderman includes a sample written agreement for freelance attorney work. Although the sample agreement needs be tailored to suit a freelance attorney’s specific offerings and jurisdiction, it does cover all of the necessary basics, including: scope of project and duration, compensation, changes to work assignment, cancellation policy, confidentiality, indemnification by client, limitation of liability, governing law and arbitration, time limitation, and notices and amendments. Ms. Alderman has generously agreed to allow MFAN to post a copy of her sample freelance work agreement. For more information on her book, see the previous book review post. Effective September 10, 2014, Emerald has accepted a position with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings and is no longer working as a freelance attorney. You can reach her at emerald_gratz@hotmail.com. MFAN Bio | Email | LinkedIn | Google Plus | MFAN...

Who Handles Cases for Lawyers on Military Leave?

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA), passed in 1994, recognizes that military service can disrupt careers of the military members and burden their families, communities, employers, and coworkers. The Act aims to ease that burden by prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of military service, and by requiring prompt reemployment of employees returning from military service. An employee called to serve in the National Guard and Reserve is considered to be on an unpaid leave of absence; after service, they have a right to be reemployed in the position they would have attained if they had not been called up. USERRA applies to all public and private employers in the United States, including very small employers not covered by other federal anti-discrimination statutes. The loss of a key employee for several months to a year can be difficult for smaller businesses. And service members may get only a few weeks’ notice before duty, making it challenging for employers to fill their shoes. Not surprisingly, sole practitioners and lawyers in small firms are among those called up to serve in the military. How do they manage? Attorney Mark Sullivan, writing in the ABA’s GPSOLO magazine, advises sole practitioners to prepare a mobilization plan, similar to a law office emergency plan, for their practice. A sole practitioner may need to find successor counsel, or may want to consider winding up the practice if time permits. Lawyers at larger firms may be able to give cases to partners and associates. Freelance attorneys can also help lawyers who are called up to serve and their employers manage a leave of absence. Available on short notice, a freelance attorney can assist coworkers who have taken on files and coordinate communications to be sure that projects are being handled effectively. The firm can manage workload, meet commitments to clients, avoid having to hire in...

Book Review: The Freelance Lawyering Manual

“However you use it, The Freelance Lawyering Manual is designed to help you navigate the murky waters of freelance legal practice by answering the most common questions, as well as those you never thought to ask.” This statement, made by author and freelance attorney Kimberly Alderman at the outset of her book, appropriately summarizes the chief utility of The Freelance Lawyering Manual. Although the book does not provide comprehensive and substantive information about freelance attorney work, it does function as a good checklist for two targeted groups: (1) attorneys looking to start a freelance practice and (2) attorneys looking to hire freelance help. The first part of the book is dedicated to attorneys looking to build a freelance law practice. Alderman explains the parameters of the legal market (as of 2011), appropriately cautions attorneys interested in freelance work on limitations of the practice area, and then spends five chapters covering the basics: setting up a practice, making money, marketing, negotiating work, and practicing freelance law. One of the most useful sections discusses how to perform a break-even analysis for a freelance practice. Alderman also includes a sample freelance work agreement in the appendix of the book. The second part of the book is dedicated to attorneys looking to hire help from a freelance attorney. Alderman lays out the risks and rewards of outsourcing legal projects, explains how to find the right freelance attorney, and suggests best practices for hiring a freelance attorney. Alderman does a nice job proffering ideas for potential freelance projects and explaining how hiring attorneys can increase their revenues by acquiring help from a freelance attorney. The third and final part of the book addresses ethical considerations for both the freelance attorney and the hiring attorney. Alderman includes the full text of the three primary American Bar Association ethics opinions addressing freelance attorney work, as well...

Litigators: How Freelance Attorneys Can Help You

A freelancer can help a litigator at every stage of the litigation process, from assessing the viability of claims, to writing motions, to taking on appeals. First, you may want some help before you ever take on a file. A freelancer can help you dig into some facts or do a bit of legal research so you can tell whether a claim or defense is viable. Once you’ve decided to take on the case, a freelancer can help with pleadings by drafting a complaint or answer for you. Next comes the hard process of discovery. A freelancer may be able to review existing documents, and help you develop or respond to discovery requests. And of course, motion practice is a freelancer strength. This can include doing some or all of the legal research needed, marshalling factual support, and drafting the motions themselves, depending on your needs. Finally, if you end up in trial, a freelancer can continue to be your partner and support. A freelancer can prepare motions in limine as well as jury instructions. For court trials, a freelancer can prepare trial briefs, proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and proposed orders, along with post-trial motions. In addition, a freelancer can do the research and drafting needed for strong appellate briefs, as much as you want, offer a fresh look at facts and the law, or even take over an appeal entirely, as some freelancers specialize in appeals. As you head into your next matter, think through where you can use help and what you can spin off. An experienced freelancer can help at every step of the litigation process. Karen graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 1986, first in her class. She then clerked for three years: one year for a Minnesota Supreme Court justice, and two years for a federal district court...

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