The work of contract attorneys often varies. They can be engaged for activities such as document review in response to a document subpoenas or request for production of documents. In such projects, contract attorneys may review tens of thousands, if not millions, of pages of documents and mark them as responsive to a particular request, or protected as attorney work product or under the attorney–client privilege. Large firms have learned that contract attorneys can perform this work much more cost effectively 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.
Some people who hold juris doctor degrees, but who are awaiting bar admission, work as temporary professionals in law firms doing the same type 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 as Cumis counsel in certain 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 the use of contract attorneys provides them the flexibility to grow their business without hiring salaried employees. Attorneys and Lawyers can specialize in this type of representation.
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