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Let a Freelancer Help You Enjoy Fall

The days are getting shorter.  There’s a nip in the air.  Leaves are turning.  It’s time to enjoy fall before the snow flies. What should you do to enjoy it? Go to a Wild game in St. Paul.  The season is just starting. Go leaf-watching.  Here’s where the best color is now. There will be some rainy blustery days.  Take that time to bake a cake.  A simple one or something more complicated. Check out the new exhibit at the History Center on the history of suburbia in Minnesota. Walk around a lake with your kids.  Any lake. And help your kids with their homework. Six things you can spin off – to free up more time:  Some legal research.  A freelancer can do some research you may need for trial or appellate briefs.  Or just for assessing the strength of a case. Drafting some motion papers.  A freelancer can draft motion papers for you.  Pieces of a brief or a memorandum.  Or the whole thing. Putting a brief together.  A freelancer can help assemble the facts, research and argument you need for a winning brief. Get help with estate and probate matters. Discovery.  A freelancer can help go through documents to respond to discovery.  Or help draft your discovery requests. Get help with E-discovery in particular. Editing.   A Freelancer can edit briefs or other papers for you. Get help with your website, blog or CLE materials. Whatever it is that you like to do – reading for fun, hunting, going to galleries, watching kids grow, or just goofing off – figure out how a freelancer can help you make that happen. Think about your practice, what you don’t like doing, what can be spun off.  You can do lots of things with time you conserve when you get outside legal help.  Hire an experienced freelance attorney to free...

IT’S TIME TO ENGAGE IN E-DISCOVERY!

I started an e-discovery-focused practice because, well, e-discovery is foreign or even scary to many lawyers. But here’s the thing: you have to engage with the process. All the information that your clients need you to have to represent them effectively exists electronically, and you’re probably missing the boat by not being involved in the process. Sure, you can hire an e-discovery vendor or litigation support firm, or delegate tasks to a paralegal or a “tech guy,” but there’s an important difference between them and lawyers: the former aren’t lawyers. To paraphrase what a colleague of mine (a “tech guy”) said when I worked for an e-discovery vendor: “To technologists, the stuff we’re collecting is just data—ones and zeros. The content doesn’t mean a thing to us.” As a lawyer, my response was along the lines of, “The content is what this process it all about. It’s, you know, evidence, and it certainly does matter to our clients.” I do not mean to knock the professionalism, skills, or dedication of non-lawyers in the e-discovery world, but, for the most part it’s true that they simply don’t think like lawyers. You likely haven’t told them much detail about the causes of action involved in the case, what you know about the facts, or what you need to prove to win or successfully defend your case. You just told them to handle the data and set it up for review. You may have even had them do a first-pass review of the data for you. Now, some may be very, very good. But how effective can they be when they don’t have all the information or training to make decisions with respect to this specific case? How well can they conduct a first-pass review if they don’t realize that an e-mail that doesn’t directly address the product in the case is...

Attorney Happiness and Freelance Practice

A Johns Hopkins University study found that lawyers suffer a depression rate 3.6 times higher than the rate of employed persons generally.  This should prompt all attorneys to ask themselves: “Are you happy?”  To find some answers, a 2014 study entitled “What Makes Lawyers Happy?” used theory-driven empirical research to find out who is happy in the legal profession and why. The study, conducted by a professor at the Florida State University College of Law, polled thousands of lawyers in four states, each representing a different geographical region of the United States. The Florida study authors remind us that “happiness is a prime human motivator,” one that pushes many people to enroll in law school in the first place.  Yet the study finds that law school students report increasing anxiety and depression before graduating into a profession with high rates of depression and substance abuse. Among the most important factors predicting happiness in an attorney was competence.  Happy attorneys felt that they were competent in conducting their work.  In addition, work-life balance had a strong correlation to attorney well-being.  In fact, vacations and exercise correlated to well-being as much as or more than salary. Perhaps high levels of attorney depression and substance abuse relate to the demands of the traditional law firm business model.    Volume is important to a profitable law firm.  High volume gives an attorney less time to allocate to each case, task, and document.  Meanwhile, clients demand and deserve effective representation at an efficient cost, making it impractical to hire extraneous support staff and salaried associates to handle volume. Thoroughness and preparation speak to competence as much as knowledge.  Freelance attorneys help busy attorneys do thorough work.  Thereby, freelance attorneys can empower you to feel competent in your work.  This feeling of competence can contribute to your happiness.  It can also simply give you the time...

Enjoy This Spring — With Freelance Help

We have all made it through another winter.  We have been feeling some balmy spring breezes. And we are all craving some time outside. So, what are good uses of our spring time? And what can you delegate to a freelancer to help make that happen?     Five spring time ideas: Go to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis.  You will see spectacular spring wildflowers early in the season before the trees leaf out.  Like trillium, pasque flower, and jack-in-the-pulpit.  And then a changing array of other beautiful flowers and plants, as other things come into season.  You will want to go more than once. Go to the Como Park Conservatory for the spring flower show.  You will be able to see the spring favorites like tulips, hyacinth, and lilies before they are in bloom in our own yards.  Just the thing to keep us going on blustery April days.  Through April 26.  After the spring show, you can plan to see the summer flower show with hollyhock, zinnias, roses and geraniums. Buy tickets for a Saints game in the new stadium.  The opening game will be on May 10 and tickets are on sale now. There will be some blustery and rainy days.  Think about going to the Minnesota History Museum to see the “We are Hmong Minnesota” exhibit.  It’s been 40 years since the first Hmong people came here.  The exhibit shows their traditions, challenges and contributions. Survey your yard without snow in it.  Decide what to plant and where to plant it.  Haul out the grill and all your grilling equipment.  So you’re ready to plant.  And ready for some good grilling. Five things you can spin off to free up more time:  Some legal research.  A freelancer can do some research you may need for trial or appellate briefs.  Or just for assessing...

Maximizing Law Firm Efficiency: How Freelance Attorneys Can Help

The reality of law firm practice is that sometimes, it’s really busy, and sometimes, you are wishing the phone would ring. If only you could even out your workload you would find some peace of mind and produce higher quality work. I am sure you have experienced this moment: You are busily trying to finalize a client’s matter to meet a deadline (which happens to be one of many that are competing for your urgent attention), and meanwhile you keep getting calls from new potential client also with urgent needs.  You certainly don’t want to turn away new clients, but you are over capacity. You know that this situation, while it happens once in a while, is certainly not the norm. Of course you still have plenty of slow days where you wish your phone would ring, and you start to think about what new marketing strategy you should employ to get new business in the door.  But because you are not regularly too busy to meet client demands, it’s impractical to employ another full-time attorney.  At the same time, you don’t want to turn business away, especially since you know a new client could bring in many new matters to the firm, including referrals. Freelance attorneys solve this problem.  You need not commit to providing them any certain amount of work – you just call them when you need them.  Another important benefit of hiring a freelance attorney is that unlike undertaking the heavy commitment and investment of employing an associate full-time, only to later find out it wasn’t a good fit, there are no administrative hassles or sunk costs associated with hiring a freelance attorney.  If you find the relationship isn’t working out, you simply choose someone new for the next project – a simplicity which is not a reality of a formal employment relationship.  Of course...

My Holiday Mice

Last year, a good friend had a holiday party. And the highlight for me was a special confection:  little chocolate mice made from a maraschino cherry dipped in chocolate and attached to a Hershey’s Kiss. The cherry stem makes a tail and the point of the Kiss makes a mouse snout, with sliced almonds for ears. I decided to make these chocolate mice for holiday parties and gifts this year. So I called the maker—Sid—to find out if she could make me some. And Sid told me, “You can make these yourself. It’s easy.” And she told me just how she does it. Part of it involved going to different locations—like Costco—to get specific ingredients. As Sid described her method, I realized I could do it. And I could do it well. But was that going to be a good use of my holiday time? My time was going to be spent on special trips to get ingredients, mobilizing equipment, and going through some trial and error to get the technique right. So I asked Sid to make the mice for me and she agreed. The mice were beautifully made. And I ended up with some extra time for work and for holiday festivities. Getting help was the right decision. Would you like help with your legal work? A freelance attorney can do work that you could do yourself but don’t want to. A freelance attorney can help free your time for other work. Or marketing. Or pleasure. What can you spin off? Research? Writing? Depositions? Let us know. 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 judge. Later she became a partner at two firms… MFAN Bio | Email |...

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