Freelance Forms on Practicelaw

Practicelaw FormThis spring, resolve to make more efficient use of your time: Download freelance attorney forms from practicelaw.

Spring is a time of transition and change. We make plans to get outdoors, get away, play (or watch, or coach) sports, and spend time with family. It’s also a great time to tweak your practice and make it more efficient, especially if you experience a summer slowdown, so that you can spend more time on the things you love.

One option to try? Prepare for your next workload crunch by assembling forms that will help you be ready to outsource projects when the time is right. The Minnesota Freelance Attorney Network has created several documents to get you ready, now available online at the MSBA’s website.

Many of us are familiar with bookkeepers, administrative staff and paralegals who operate on a freelance basis, but you may be surprised to learn how many Minnesota attorneys work as independent freelancers. We’re part of the move toward alternative models of practice. Freelancers work on projects for other lawyers; we’re like associates, but for the short term. We’re local, entrepreneurial, and usually experienced. We’re admitted to the same bar and are members of the same professional groups and organizations. Some of us (like me) have our own sole practices; others choose to focus exclusively on working for other lawyers. All of us aim to help you meet deadlines, serve your clients, and get your work done.

If you’ve never worked with a freelance attorney before, MFAN is here to help. Our website offers some guidance on getting started, and the forms on will give you more detail on three important aspects of working with a freelance lawyer: identifying projects, telling your client, and making sure you have a clear working agreement.

The first step is identifying projects. The checklist, Working With a Freelance Attorney, is part of materials MFAN presented at the August 2015 Strategic Solutions for Solo & Small Firms Conference in Duluth, Minnesota. The checklist is a practice-assessment tool, intended to help you identify where your time is best spent and think about legal projects that can be outsourced. Freelance attorneys are able to perform a wide variety of litigation and transactional tasks, as well as provide marketing support (such as drafting CLE materials).

The second step is letting your clients know that you may work with freelance lawyers in appropriate circumstances. The newly amended comment 6 to Minnesota Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 suggests that a freelance attorney should ordinarily be disclosed to your client. As it is often simplest to make disclosures at the outset of the client-lawyer relationship, MFAN has contributed an example of an outsourcing clause that can be added to your engagement agreements.

Finally, there’s the working agreement between you and the freelance lawyer. Because the relationship between a hiring attorney and a freelance attorney is one of contract, it’s important to get the terms in writing. Points you may want to think about include
• Scope of work
• Deadlines
• Rates and payment
• The form in which you’d like to receive the work
• Preserving independent contractor status
• Supervision
• Dispute resolution

More tips can be found in this article at

MFAN has contributed two examples of contracts used by freelance attorneys, a letter-style agreement that I’ve used, and a contract-style agreement used by MFAN member Brian Hagerty. Comparing the two will highlight drafting decisions for you to make, and will help you choose which format best fits your practice.

All of our forms are works in progress – we welcome your questions, suggestions, and feedback.

Where to find independent freelance attorneys practicing in Minnesota? One option MSBA’s Find a Colleague directory, which at last count included over 300 MSBA members interested in taking on projects for other lawyers. Not an MSBA member? Check out our directory of MFAN bloggers.

Business crunches come up when you least expect them, and you never know when you’re going to need an extra pair of hands. So download the forms from the MSBA’s practicelaw site, and be ready for whatever the future holds.

An earlier version of this article was published on the MSBA’s Small Firm Soapbox blog in December 2015.

By day, Karin Ciano has a sole practice focusing on civil rights and employment law, and does a bit of probate litigation with Rodney J. Mason Ltd. By night, as the “Federal Sherpa,” she helps other attorneys with writing projects, particularly with cases in federal court. She is one of the co-founders of the Minnesota Freelance Attorney Network, and serves on the leadership council of the MSBA Solo & Small Firm section.

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