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Need a Freelance Lawyer? 3 Online Contract Lawyer Marketplaces Compared

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Update 9/26/2017: This article has been updated to reflect the most current information about each platform. We’ve also added Flex Legal Network and removed an outdated option.

It’s a tough economy out there, even for law firms and lawyers. Firms just aren’t hiring like they used to… but maybe that’s a good thing.

Many lawyers are starting to look outside of the law firm world—and it’s working for them. Legal groups and networks present a different way to connect attorneys to clients, and they’re attracting some of the best and brightest freelancers out there. That’s good for lawyers, and it’s good for those looking to hire them.

Hiring more lawyers who will sit idle when work ebbs isn’t the only option anymore for firms and departments experiencing periodic upticks in demand. Now companies have the freedom to acquire reliable legal help as needed, and lawyers have the freedom to set their own work parameters by going freelance with a network.

Check out these three great resources for hiring freelance attorneys to see if a network might be the change you need.

1. Montage Legal Group

Montage Legal Group is a nationwide network of experienced contract/freelance lawyers. Montage Legal has been in business since 2009, and has seen significant growth and popularity over the last five years.

The freelance attorneys in Montage’s network perform legal services for law firms of all sizes and are available for legal projects in all areas of law, including legal specialties such as employment, bankruptcy, appellate, corporate, and patent.

I emailed with Owner/Founder Laurie G. Rowen, Esq.

Capterra: How many lawyers are signed up on the provider side? Hiring side?  

Laurie Rowan: Montage has a little over 200 lawyers on the provider side.

We call these contract lawyers ‘freelance lawyers

We keep our group small for a number of reasons, Most importantly, law is a personality-driven industry. We hand-select lawyers and connect them with law firms based on specialty and personality fit.

When law firms come to Montage, they know that we will suggest freelancers based on personal knowledge, not computer algorithms, Our system worksover 90% of our law firm clients are repeat customers.

On the hiring side, Montage Legal Group signs contracts with five to ten new law firms each month.

When ‘Big Law’ lawyers start their own firms, they usually need help from freelance lawyers who have had training similar to their own. Montage is the perfect fit for these types of law firms.

Capterra: How many specialties are represented?

LR: The Montage Legal Group network covers almost every specialty, including highly specialized areas including sweepstakes law, biological patent prosecution, and specialized probate conservatorships.

Montage Legal Group’s freelance attorneys have experience in the following general practice areas:

  • Administrative Law
  • Appellate law
  • Bankruptcy
  • Business litigation
  • Business transactions (contracts, due diligence, mergers, etc.)
  • Computer Torts
  • Commercial real estate
  • Construction defect litigation
  • Copyright
  • Criminal law
  • Employment counseling
  • Employment litigation, including class actions
  • Entertainment law (litigation and transactions)
  • Environmental law (litigation and transactions)
  • Family law
  • Health care fraud
  • Health Care litigation and transactions
  • Immigration
  • Intellectual property litigation (copyright, trademark, trade secret, patent)
  • Juvenile law
  • Licensing
  • Military law
  • Municipal law
  • Patent prosecution
  • Pharmaceutical defense
  • Premises liability
  • Probate litigation
  • Professional liability defense
  • Product liability
  • Real estate litigation & transactions
  • Securities litigation
  • Tax (corporate and restructuring)
  • Tax controversy
  • Trademark Counseling, Licensing, Prosecution and Litigation
  • Trade Secrets
  • White collar crime (including bank fraud and tax fraud)
  • Writs

Capterra: What geographies do you represent?

LR: Montage Legal Group serves law firms nationwide, heavily concentrated in California.

Capterra: What’s the average hourly rate of your lawyers?

[Note that law firms typically pay between $75-275 per hour, with an average rate of $135/hour.]

LR: Rates range depending on the type of project, specialized experience, length of project, and numerous other factors.

Montage freelance lawyers set their own rates on a per project basis, which are sometimes based on how busy they are at a particular moment or how much they desire a particular project. For example, the same employment lawyer might accept a witness interview project for $100/hr because she happens to love witness interviews, a doc review project for $85/hr because she happens to be slow at that moment, and then requests $150/hr to handle an extremely complicated memo on labor/union issues.

Capterra: What percentage do you take off the top?

LR: Montage Legal Group’s average fee is 20% of the total rate charged to the law firm.

Capterra: Can firms/departments rate contract lawyers?

LR: While we don’t have a formal online rating system, law firms frequently provide feedback about freelance lawyers to help us better serve them.

Capterra: Can contract lawyers rate firms/departments?

LR: We do not have a formal rating system, but freelance attorneys may provide feedback to us and are free to decline projects.

2. Hire an Esquire


Hire an Esquire offers lawyers on a flexible, permanent, or temp-to-perm basis with no buyout fee.

Hire an Esquire’s enterprise platform connects law firms and legal departments with a curated network of over 6,000 vetted legal professionals for flexible, permanent, or temp-to-perm needs. The platform also includes direct messaging, billing, and timekeeping functions.

I emailed with Finance and HR Manager Gregory Lagrosse about the specifics.

Capterra: How many lawyers are signed up on the provider side? Hiring side?

Gregory Lagrosse: Hire an Esquire works with approximately 6,000 attorneys. To accommodate client needs, the platform recently expanded to include nonattorney legal professionals.

All network members are triple vetted before they can apply to roles. This process includes:

  • Primary qualification: Screening to ensure that all attorneys are licensed and in good standing with the bar. Nonattorney professionals identities are also confirmed.
  • Second-level vetting: Analysis of various data points related to applicant performance and soft skills via references, past performance analysis, and assessments.
  • Final screening: A final level of screening and live interview includes a further assessment of personality and soft skills.

Attorneys can verify information themselves via text, phone call, or email.

Capterra: How many specialties are represented?

GL: We really have specialties in all areas of law ranging from securities to real estate to intellectual property. We invite all practice areas to sign up since our clients are just as varied.

We have a wealth of experienced M&A [merger and acquisition] attorneys as well as seasoned venture company attorneys, real estate attorneys, and attorneys with extensive in-house experience. Our network includes attorneys with highly specific skill sets, including native level fluency in certain languages, advanced knowledge of solar project finance, industry familiarity with the digital media and much more.

Capterra: What geographies do you represent?

GL: Hire an Esquire operates out of all 50 states, with the most lawyers in New York City, Boston, and all over California.

Capterra: What’s the average hourly rate of your lawyers?

GL: The average attorney makes $70 per hour. This $70 rate is a mixture between our 1099 and W-2 projects.

The hourly rate can vary greatly depending on the project responsibilities, geographic location, years of experience required, and practice area. We also have many jobs that are simply fixed rate projects, which means the attorney will complete a project (like a local court appearance) and receive a flat rate.

Capterra: What percentage do you take off the top?

GL: Twelve percent 12% for 1099 projects and 40% for W-2 projects

Capterra: Can firms/departments rate contract lawyers? Can contract lawyers rate firms/departments?

GL: After each engagement, employers are given the opportunity to rate attorney performance. This evaluation is reviewed and added to the platform’s overall attorney assessment. Future clients can access these reviews and see this information easily via the star rating on attorney profiles.

We also work closely and personally with attorneys and clients to get feedback and consistently improve their experience with our service.

Flex Legal Network

Launched in 2015, Flex Legal Network is a small legal marketplace based in Canada. Its focus is on a small firm with extremely experienced lawyers and legal experts.

I emailed with Flex’s principal, Erin Cowling.

Capterra: How many lawyers are signed up on the provider side? Hiring side?  

Erin Cowling: Flex Legal is a boutique network with just under 20 lawyers who are part of the main network, with a pool of extra lawyers to draw on if needed. We have high admittance standards and vet the lawyers personally, requiring a phone or in-person interview, references, and writing samples. Accordingly, we are not a company with 1000+ lawyers on roster who are in-between jobs or are newly minted lawyers without experience. Instead our lawyers have embraced the freelance life and are committed to our mission of providing flexible legal services without sacrificing quality and value.

In the short time that Flex has been in existence we have helped approximately 50 law firms (from sole practitioners to large national firms) and in-house legal departments (often with repeat business) and also have new clients reaching out on a weekly basis.   

Capterra: How many specialties are represented?

EC: Flex lawyers have diverse legal backgrounds and can assist across most practice areas including:

  • Corporate / commercial litigation
  • Estates and trusts and power of attorney litigation
  • Elder law
  • Wills and estate administration
  • Corporate/commercial (business law)
  • Securities
  • Family
  • Personal injury
  • Labour and employment
  • Criminal
  • Immigration
  • Privacy
  • Appellate litigation
  • Class action litigation
  • Intellectual property
  • Media law
  • Aboriginal law
  • International law

Capterra: What geographies do you represent?

EC: We are a Canadian network and Flex Lawyers mainly serve clients in the Province of Ontario, but have assisted lawyers and firms across the country.

Capterra: What’s the average hourly rate of your lawyers?

EC: While all pricing is ultimately determined between the freelance lawyer and the hiring lawyer, our lawyers are open to flexible fees based on client preference. Our Flex Lawyers have very reasonable hourly rates (typically between $75-$275 per hour) or offer fixed or flat rates. Rates often depend on the type of work. For example, we offer drafting services for legal content marketing (i.e., blog posts, client newsletters, articles, conference papers ) which are billed out at a lower rate.

Capterra: What percentage do you take off the top?

EC: Flex retains 20% of the amount paid by the law firm or in-house department. As our freelance lawyers set their own rates they can take this percentage into consideration and always take home an amount that suits their needs.

Capterra: Can firms/departments rate contract lawyers?

EC: We don’t have a rating system, but we do offer our FlexRate Option. Our FlexRate Option provides an opportunity for our clients to pay their bill based on the quality of the work completed. Ten percent of the Flex lawyer’s bill is discretionary. Our clients choose to pay all, none, or some of the 10% FlexRate. This assures that the bill paid will reflect satisfaction with the work product and the overall experience with the Flex Lawyer. We will ask for feedback should our clients choose not to pay the full amount.

Capterra: Can contract lawyers rate firms/departments?

EC: We do not have a formal rating system; however, our freelance lawyers are open to provide feedback.

Conclusion What’s your stance on freelance legal work?

Freelance legal marketplaces are just one category of technology that’s changing the practice of law. For more legal tech tools, check out our directory of law practice management platforms.

Have you used any of these marketplaces? Are you connected through one? What did you think? Are there any that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments or tweet me @CapterraHalden.egal Group

Looking for Law Practice Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Law Practice Management software solutions.

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About the Authors

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at cathy@capterra.com . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.

Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen writes about HR and eLearning at Capterra. She’s a graduate of Agnes Scott College and a TEDx presenter. You can follow her on Twitter @CapterraHalden, just don’t get her started about her zombie survival plan.

Comments

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[…] We are always grateful when Montage Legal Group is highlighted in the press, and are honored to be featured in this article with two other great contract attorney companies.  To read the full article, please click here. […]

Having serious problems with California trust administration, Need a ” Contract Lawyer” to represent me there untiIl I can arrive in person to put it all together on a perminate program.

Very informative article, I agree and I think lawyers are very important now a days as they gives the best legal advise and deals with all the legal issues

Hi, and thank you for sharing your point of view!
However, I believe there are much more places one can visit if they are in need of a good lawyer. For instance, you can always post a freelance legal job opportunity here: https://www.xplace.com/legal/jobs. This freelance job board has a lot of competent freelance lawyers, and it doesn’t charge a commission!

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