Solo and small firm lawyers face a unique set of challenges. Balancing client needs, managing overheads, and staying competitive are just a few of the hurdles you encounter daily. This is where cost-effective legal writing comes into play – not just as a service, but as a strategic investment in your practice’s growth and efficiency.
The Value of Outsourcing Legal Writing
Obtaining cost-effective legal writing, especially from specialized providers like Mazur Legal Research, can be a game-changer for small firms. Here’s why:
Time is Money
As attorneys, we’re no strangers to the phrase “time is money.” By outsourcing your legal research and writing tasks, you free up precious hours to focus on client interaction, court appearances, and other high-value tasks that directly contribute to your firm’s success.
Expertise on Demand
Outsourcing to an expert in legal writing ensures that your motions, briefs, and memos are of the highest quality. This not only strengthens your cases but also elevates your firm’s reputation for excellence.
Cost-Effectiveness of Outsourcing
Outsourcing legal writing is not just about delegating tasks; it’s about smart investment.
Mazur Legal Research offers competitive rates at $185/hr for expert-level legal research and writing services. This rate is not only affordable for small firms but also allows for a mark-up, as noted in ABA and state bar ethics opinions. Your firm can ethically add a surcharge to outsourced writing services, making it a financially viable option.
The Cost-Benefit of Hiring an Experienced Research Attorney at $185/hr
Hiring an experienced research attorney at a rate of $185/hr offers significant cost benefits compared to the process of finding, interviewing, and training an associate.
Reduced Recruitment and Training Costs
- Recruitment Costs: Hiring an associate involves various expenses, including advertising the position, time spent reviewing applications, and conducting interviews. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost-per-hire for companies is around $4,129, with a hiring time of about 42 days.
- Training Costs: New associates require training which is both time-consuming and costly. As per Training Magazine’s 2020 Training Industry Report, the average training cost per employee is about $1,111. This doesn’t account for the indirect costs associated with reduced productivity during the training period.
Higher Efficiency of Experienced Attorneys
- Immediate Productivity: An experienced research attorney like Mazur Legal Research can begin contributing immediately without the need for extensive orientation or training. This immediate productivity translates to faster turnaround times for legal research and writing tasks. It also ensures that the work is high-quality from the start. An experienced attorney is already familiar with the best practices in legal research and writing, and can provide insights and perspectives that might take a new associate years to develop. This ability to deliver accurate and comprehensive work quickly reduces the time clients have to wait for outcomes, potentially enhancing client satisfaction and the reputation of your firm for efficiency and effectiveness.
- Expertise and Quality: With extensive experience, the quality of work produced by a seasoned research attorney is typically higher than that of a newly hired associate, leading to better legal outcomes and enhanced client satisfaction. Not only do you get cost-effective legal writing, but you get the depth of knowledge and insights from an experienced research attorney.
- Flexibility and Scalability: Outsourcing to a research attorney allows for scalability – you can engage these services as needed, without the long-term financial commitment required for a full-time associate. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for small firms and solo practitioners who may experience fluctuating workloads. It also enables firms to adapt quickly to sudden increases in case volume or complex cases requiring specialized legal research skills.
Salary Comparison Between Outsourcing and Hiring
Assuming the average annual salary for a new associate in a small firm is around $60,000 (not including benefits, taxes, and overhead costs), the cost of employing an associate goes beyond just salary. When factoring in recruitment, training, and other associated costs, the financial burden increases dramatically. In contrast, at $185/hr, the cost of hiring an experienced research attorney is only incurred when their services are used, offering a more predictable and often lower cost option.
When you further analyze these costs, the advantages of outsourcing become even clearer. The recruitment process itself can be expensive and time-consuming, often requiring advertising, interviewing, and potentially using recruitment agencies. Additionally, once on board, a new associate may take several months to reach full productivity, and during that time their effective cost to the firm is much higher than their salary alone would suggest.
On the other hand, hiring an experienced research attorney means accessing a pool of specialized skills on demand. This eliminates the need for the continuous salary, benefits, and other employment-related expenses associated with a full-time hire. And this option allows firms to better manage cash flow and allocate resources more effectively, especially during the up-and-down periods of your practice. When things slow down, you can keep your overhead low. By opting for an outsourced legal expert, firms can keep their fixed costs lower while still having the flexibility to scale up legal resources as required.
Ethical Markup and Client Satisfaction
- Ethics & Outsourcing: The American Bar Association, in its Formal Opinion 08-451, clearly stated that there is nothing unethical about outsourcing legal services, provided the outsourcing lawyer ensures that the services are rendered with the necessary legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation. This opinion highlights the importance of maintaining the quality and competence of legal services, irrespective of whether these services are performed in-house or outsourced.
- Ethical Markup: As per ABA Formal Opinion 00-420, law firms can ethically add a surcharge to the cost of outsourced legal services, provided the total charge remains reasonable. This allows firms to profit from outsourcing while maintaining ethical standards. Opinion 00-420 concluded that “a lawyer may, under the Model Rules, add a surcharge on amounts paid to a contract lawyer when services provided by the contract lawyer are billed as legal services. This is true whether the use and role of the contract lawyer are or are not disclosed to the client.”
- Client Satisfaction: The high-quality work produced by an experienced research attorney can lead to better case outcomes, increasing client satisfaction and the likelihood of repeat business and referrals.
The cost benefits of obtaining cost-effective legal writing from a research attorney are multifold. It presents a financially efficient, flexible, and high-quality alternative to the traditional model of hiring and training associates, especially for small firms and solo practitioners looking to maintain a competitive edge while managing costs effectively.
The Big Picture
Investing in cost-effective legal writing services can lead to better legal outcomes and higher client satisfaction. This, in turn, often translates into more business and a stronger professional reputation.