LAWCLERK, an online marketplace where solos and small firms can hire freelance lawyers, is expanding today into a new kind of offering — subscription-based virtual associates.
Since its launch in 2018, LAWCLERK has focused on enabling smaller firms to hire freelance lawyers to assist them on a project-by-project, as-needed basis. LAWCLERK says it now has more than 3,100 freelance lawyers available through its service, at virtually any level of experience or type of expertise.
But with today’s offering, LAWCLERK is moving beyond just project-based hiring, to enable firms to hire associates on a temporary basis but with the ability to handle a range of assignments.
“Today’s marketplace is perfectly situated for project-based work,” cofounder and CEO Gregory Garman told me last week during an interview with him and cofounder and CMO Kristin Tyler. “But many firms want more, they want to integrate virtual associates into their firms in deeper relationships, but not full time.”
Through the Virtual Associate Subscription service, firms can hire one or more associates in increments of 10-hours-per-month for a minimum of four weeks, with no long-term commitment and the ability to cancel with 30-days notice. Thus, a firm could hire an associate for 10 hours, 20 hours, or more per month, up to a maximum of 120 hours per month.
“A half a litigator and a half a real estate lawyer is better than one associate struggling to do both,” Garman said.
The cost ranges from $75 per hour for a junior-level associate with up to four years of experience, to $100 an hour for a more-experience lawyer, to $140 an hour for a senior attorney.
How It Works
LAWCLERK handles the payments to the associate and tax reporting. It requires associates to keep contemporaneous time records, which it provides to the firm each month. LAWCLERK takes 30 percent of the amounts paid as its fee for hosting and managing the service.
Hiring a virtual associate through LAWCLERK works much like its project-based hiring. A firm posts a position on the site. Freelancers who match the specifications are notified of the posting and can apply. From among the applicants, the firm can interview those of interest and select the best candidate.
Firms that hire virtual associates through LAWCLERK can also continue to hire project-based lawyers, if they wish. All of the freelancers who have registered for project work are also eligible to apply for subscription assignments.
LAWCLERK has been beta testing the Virtual Associate Subscription Program with several firms. One lawyer who participated in the beta, California personal injury attorney Eric Ratinoff, hired several lawyers through the program to assist on a mass tort case over a period of several months.
Ratinoff assigned the lawyers to gather and evaluate information for plaintiff fact sheets and to coordinate documents in support of each of the plaintiffs’ claims.
“LAWCLERK stepped up in a huge way, vetted a team of lawyers to work with us, and it has been a seamless process,” Ratinoff said. “I cannot recommend the Virtual Associate Subscription Program highly enough.”