An Ethical Solution
The American Bar Association has recognized that “there is nothing unethical about a lawyer outsourcing legal and nonlegal services,” as long as the hiring firm complies with its ethical obligations. ABA Formal Op. 08-451 (2008).
In fact, hiring a freelance attorney can help busy lawyers provide competent representation, zealously advocate for their clients, and manage their workloads.
Law firms can often profit from a freelance attorney’s work by adding a surcharge to the freelance attorney’s fee when billing the client. Most bar associations that have evaluated this practice, including the ABA, have found such surcharges to be ethical. See e.g., ABA Formal Op. 00-420 (2000).
When adding a surcharge, the freelance attorney’s fee must be billed as legal services, rather than as an expense, and the total fee must be reasonable. ABA Formal Op. 00-420 (2000).