Jan 14, 2014

Two New Sites for Finding Short-Term Help

10 Comments · Posted by Robert Ambrogi in General

Legalkin

Are you a solo or small-firm lawyer who sometimes needs to hire temporary help for short-term assignments? If so, two new services promise to help you find the right person.

One, Legalkin.com, was just launched on Jan. 9. It focuses on connecting law firms of all sizes with freelance lawyers, law students and paralegals. The other, DocketHero, has yet to launch, but Carolyn Elefant has an advance look at her blog MyShingle.com. I have not seen DocketHero so I refer you to Carolyn’s review for more on that. I’ll tell you about Legalkin.

Legalkin is designed for law firms that need short-term help. Perhaps you need help with legal research and writing or you need someone to cover a court appearance for you. You post the job, specifying whether you want an attorney, a law student or a paralegal. You provide a description of the job, specify where it will take place, indicate the practice area, and say when it will begin. You also state the amount you are willing to pay. Currently, this must be a flat-fee, but the site plans to later allow hourly-based payments.

After posting a job, you should then receive proposals from freelancers willing to take it on. After reviewing the responses and selecting the one you want, you escrow the fee with Legalkin. It pays the freelancer only after you approve the work.

Alternatively, you can simply search the site for a freelancer who fits your needs. Once you find someone, you can offer the assignment directly. To browse all available freelancers, leave the search box empty and then hit “search.” From there, you can filter by state, country and practice area. (As of this writing, the state filter is not working properly, but I am told it will be fixed by week’s end.)

There is no cost to post a project and there are no subscription or membership fees. Likewise, there is no cost for freelancers to join the site and post a profile. If a freelancer gets a job and completes the assignment, then Legalkin charges the freelancer an “advertising fee” of 15 percent, which is taken out of the project fee.

Once you have used a freelancer, you can add a review to his or her profile.

Started By a Lawyer

Legalkin was launched by Jason Steinberger, a criminal-defense lawyer in New York City. He started the site, he says, to help with a common problem faced by solo and small-firm lawyers — short-term projects or assignments that do not justify hiring a full- or part-time employee.

“Legalkin solves that problem by creating a marketplace where solos and small law firms can quickly, easily and securely hire freelance, short term and per diem help,” Steinberger says. “Once the freelance job is complete, the relationship ends with no further commitment.”

Even when lawyers decide to hire freelance help, it is not always easy to find someone who is competent to handle the assignment. Steinberger hopes Legalkin will help address that by allowing lawyers to post the minimum requirements they need and review bids privately.

For freelancers, Legalkin provides a forum where they can list their services for free. By escrowing the fee for each project up front, it also ensures that freelancers will be paid when the project is done.

The Bottom Line

With Legalkin having just launched, it remains a work in progress. No jobs have been posted so far and only a handful of freelancers have created profiles.

As I often say about newly launched sites, Legalkin’s success will turn on whether it can build up a critical mass of users. I know of at least one other such site, FreelanceLaw.com (which I reviewed in 2009). That site charges monthly subscription fees to both employers ($49 a month) and freelancers ($9.99 a month). Legalkin’s approach — charging no up-front fees — makes it a more attractive option for small firm lawyers needing only occasional temporary help.

There is no question that lawyers need a simple way to find short-term and per-diem help. Many lawyers already have someone they can fall back on, but what happens when that back-up person is unavailable? I often see lawyers use listservs for this, but listservs don’t offer a good opportunity to vet someone’s qualifications. Plus, Legalkin guarantees that the money is there to pay for the work and that the fill-in will actually get paid when it’s done.

Steinberger is blunt about the fact that the site is still rough around the edges. But he wanted to get it posted and see how people use it and then adapt further development appropriately. He is working on building up the freelancer listings through law schools and other sources.

If you have a job you need done, you might want to give Legalkin a try. And if you are a lawyer, law student or paralegal looking to pick up freelance work, add your listing. Either way, it won’t cost you anything unless it works.

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10 comments

  • Anna K · January 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for Sharing this Valuable Information!!! I am Greatly Appreciative!!!

    Reply

  • DocketHero Promises to Help You Outsource Your Law Practice · January 14, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    […] but also meant for non-lawyers. And there is LegalKin, which is very similar, and which Bob Ambrogi just covered. However, DocketHero is the first to combine the simplicity of an app/service like FancyHands with […]

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  • Sarrah Mcgraw · January 15, 2014 at 12:20 am

    Really useful information about “Finding Short-Term Help”. But I want to get degree in law online.while I was searching on internet, I have found http://www.learninglaw.com which is offering online law degrees. I have no experience for this site and don’t know whether I should trust on them or not. Please share me your experience regarding this site. If anyone know better source which is offering online law degrees, please comment here or direct email me at (sarrah.mcg at gmail.com)..

    Reply

  • Lisa Solomon · January 15, 2014 at 10:00 am

    “Marketplaces” seem to be the new, hot thing. Small businesses have sites like UpCounsel to find lawyers (who are, after all, vendors of professional services); lawyers have sites like Hire an Esquire, FreelanceLaw, Docket Hero and LegalKin to find service providers.

    I’m an established freelancer: I have focused my practice exclusively on performing legal research and writing for other lawyers since 1996. I’ve had a website for at least 12 years. Many other established freelancers (including legal research and writing providers and court coverage ["per diem"] attorneys) also have their own websites.

    Although I registered with both FreelanceLaw and Hire an Esquire when those services launched, I have not received a single inquiry from a potential client from either service. While that may be because I’m over-qualified, I suspect it has more to do with the number of hiring attorneys using those sites. And, though I’ll register for Docket Hero and LegalKin (after all, I have nothing to lose), I suspect that the vast majority of my clients will continue to come from my other marketing channels.

    In my view, freelance legal marketplace sites will primarily serve, on one hand, providers who are new to the business and those who offer freelance services (such as court coverage) on an irregular basis and, on the other hand, lawyers who are looking to hire those types of providers. Lawyers who want to hire experienced providers with established reputations in their fields can easily find those providers by asking their colleagues for recommendations and/or searching on Google.

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  • Lisa Solomon · January 15, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    As a follow-up to my earlier post, I poked around a bit on LegalKin. Here’s what I found:

    It’s impossible to view the profiles of the four people who supposedly provided testimonials for the site (at the bottom of the home page).

    The “previous jobs” description for the single job founder Jason Steinberg supposedly did via the site (“I need someone to get my brother out of jail and in front of a judge”) is not even a freelance job. I understand that the site is supposedly in “beta,” but it appears that none of the information on the site (aside from Steinberger’s profile) is real information.

    I also registered with the site so I could create a profile. Adding information to one’s profile is not intuitive. For example, for lawyers, the profile section contains a pull-down list under the label “practices” that lists only substantive practice areas. Those practice areas don’t necessarily correspond to the services a lawyer might provide, and that someone using the site to find a freelancer might want to sort by (for example, how could a user quickly sort through site members to find freelancers to make court appearances?).

    There’s another label for “regions” with a pulldown allowing us ers to choose states. However, freelancers can provide many services (such as legal research and writing) on a remote basis. Thus, freelancers may provide services in multiple states or (like me) even nationwide. Yet there is no option to choose “all states” or “all jurisdictions.” It would be tiresome to go through the pull-down selection process 50 times.

    Finally, it’s unclear what information is supposed to go in the text box entry field directly under the user’s name, as opposed to the information that is supposed to go in the single-line text entry field in the right-hand column under “experience.”

    This is not a “beta” site: it’s not ready for late-night TV, much less for prime time.

    Reply

  • Avon · January 20, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    I think the information can be “real” even if it’s also true that the site is not (yet) intuitive in all its features, or even not ready for TV.

    In some jurisdictions, at least, a lawyer is indeed the best person to enforce a specific detainee’s right to be produced promptly in court. In my city (NYC), a class action law suit to enforce that right was needed in the 1980s, when there were backlogs and stalling for investigative or prosecutorial reasons.

    I’m suspicious of everything on the internet. But if this site only launched on January 9, I think assumptions about it are premature.

    Reply

  • Adrian D · January 22, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Thanks for the tip Robert. Legalkin seems interesting and useful, we will recommend it to some of our customers to see how that goes.

    Reply

  • LegalKin: A Marketplace for Temporary Help for Solos and Small Firms | In-House HR · January 22, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    […] a comment to Bob Ambrogi’s post on Legalkin, Lisa Solomon pointed out that she has not received a single inquiry from marketplaces that predated Legalkin. She […]

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  • LegalKin: A Marketplace for Temporary Help for Solos and Small Firms · January 26, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    […] a comment to Bob Ambrogi’s post on Legalkin, Lisa Solomon pointed out that she has not received a single inquiry from marketplaces […]

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  • Two New Sites for Finding Short-Term Help - Rob... · January 27, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    […] Are you a solo or small-firm lawyer who sometimes needs to hire temporary help for short-term assignments? If so, two new services promise to help you find  […]

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