Differences between A Freelance Commercial Lawyer And A Sole Practitioner

Differences between A Freelance Commercial Lawyer And A Sole Practitioner

As the legal industry is changing, new ways to practice all aspects of the law are emerging, including the option of practising as a freelance commercial lawyer. Though some business owners still believe in the traditional way of practising business law, the massive influence of the internet is already promoting the freelancing service even in the law industry. 

According to reports, most young chaps in the business world patronize freelance best commercial lawyers. However, since the pandemic, the general business format has changed for good. The business world is now flexible. Hence, freelance commercial lawyers are winning the bout. 

While freelance commercial lawyers are becoming more popular across the globe, confusion still exists over what a freelance commercial lawyer is and does. The most common misconception we see? People equate freelance commercial lawyers with “cheaper versions” of sole practitioners. This misconception has arisen partly from some solo commercial lawyers offering their legal services to the public on freelance platforms (alongside photographers, graphic designers, etc.) at highly discounted rates, creating confusion in the field of freelance commercial lawyers.  

We have summarized below the three differences between freelance commercial lawyers and sole practitioners. This article is dedicated to exposing you to the difference so that you will have the proper knowledge to distinguish between the two without mincing choices. 

Significant Differences Between Freelance Commercial Lawyers And Sole Practitioners

1. The Client

The clientele is the most crucial distinction between a sole practitioner and a freelance commercial lawyer.

Freelancers only work for other commercial lawyers, law firms, or in-house legal departments (usually large corporations), unlike sole practitioners, whom the general public doesn’t like to retain. Also, the sole practitioners do not have the grounds to provide legal advice directly to non-lawyers or what they refer to as “end-clients”. Finally, while technically, they are all “sole practitioners” with their respective law communities (our governing bodies), this is due to the non-appearance of the ‘freelance commercial lawyers’ category on their annual reports, and “sole practitioner” seem to be always available to how they practice business law.

So, those commercial lawyers who offer their legal services on general freelance marketplace websites are usually sole practitioners looking for work from end clients (although not all). They often provide their services at a lower or discounted rate. They use freelance platforms simply as another way to generate business from the public. Freelance commercial lawyers do not look for work from the general public.

It is understandable why sole practitioners may be confused with freelance commercial lawyers. In other industries (where freelancing or the “gig” economy has been embraced), freelancers are generally self-employed individuals, such as graphic designers or writers, who work for several clients on a project basis, as opposed to just one company. Like most lawyers (except for in-house counsel), sole practitioners work for several end clients instead of just one.  However, freelance commercial lawyers “gig” for several law firms and lawyers, as opposed to practising as an associate or partner of one lawyer, law firm, or company. The difference is, as noted above that freelance commercial lawyers work for other lawyers rather than end clients.

2. The Nature of the Work 

A sole practitioner will (generally) see the file through from beginning to end (i.e. from drafting the statement of claim to conducting the trial), unlike a freelance commercial lawyer who may be called into work on only one aspect of the file (i.e. to provide high-level strategic advice, draft a pleading, review one contract, appear for one court appearance, etc.)

This distinction affects the length or duration of the work. For example, in civil litigation, files can last for years. A sole practitioner’s litigation files can be dormant for months and then blow up at a moment’s notice. Instead of juggling 100 files that may require attention at any moment, freelance commercial lawyers focus on one or two assignments or projects at a time with clear beginnings and ends. That means lawyer and law firm clients get 100% (or close to it) of our attention on their work projects. Lawyer clients are juggling the 100 files, and we assist when they catch on fire. 

Also, lawyer clients consistently give us exciting and challenging legal work. The instructions are prominent and well thought out. Having a commercial lawyer as a client means less emotional support and psychological hand-holding than sole practitioners may have to provide to their end clients.  Some of the lawyer clients have told us that they prefer providing emotional support and hand-holding and are not keen on the actual law. That is how, as freelance commercial lawyers, we can complement a solo practitioner’s or law firm lawyer’s practice. Clients outsource the work they do not like to us so that they can focus on their work. 

Differences between A Freelance Commercial Lawyer And A Sole Practitioner

3. Overhead and Trust Accounts

Most sole practitioners have an office, a legal assistant or law clerk, office equipment and furniture, etc. Freelance commercial lawyers have very little overhead. We can work from anywhere, although most of us work from home and often have paperless ‘offices’.  There are commercial lawyers and law firm clients everywhere, and you can communicate with them over Skype, phone, email, etc.

While some sole practitioners may also work from home and have paperless offices, one thing a sole practitioner does have (that freelancers do not) is a trust account. Solo practitioners will often take monetary retainers from their end clients, which must be kept in a trust account. Freelancers usually only bill our lawyer and law firm clients once the work is complete, eliminating the need for a trust account.

In Conclusion

It is never a bad idea to commit your business to the hands of freelance commercial lawyers. It’s all for the profits. While sole practitioners and freelance commercial lawyers have much in common, we practice law differently. Depending on their personality, a commercial lawyer may suit one type of practice more than a sole practitioner. Based on research, most business owners prefer the freelance way of life!

Everything You Need To Know About Freelance Commercial Lawyers

Everything You Need To Know About Freelance Commercial Lawyers

Most businesses prefer working with commercial lawyers associated with registered law firms. The general belief is that freelance commercial lawyers are specifically suitable for startup businesses. However, of course, larger business enterprises need to work with a law firm as they are expected to be better in terms of human resources, expertise and capacity to handle larger law projects.

However, it is not a rule in business. Several freelance commercial lawyers can handle large companies and perform excellently in their duties. In addition, freelance commercial lawyers can be a better option for a business as they can work in the legal department of a large company as an in-house legal counsel, and they charge lower than a law firm. 

Should you hire a freelance commercial lawyer or patronize a law firm? That is the question we are about to answer in this article. As you read on, we will expose you to everything necessary to know about freelance commercial lawyers, their roles in the daily running of a business, when it’s essential to work with them, the risks and rewards associated with them and more. But first, let’s know the meaning.

Everything You Need To Know About Freelance Commercial Lawyers

Who Is A Freelance Commercial Lawyer?

A freelance commercial lawyer, sometimes called a commercial contract law, is a lawyer who does legal work but isn’t associated with a law firm. Freelance commercial lawyers are independent contractors. They work for themselves in their separate businesses and work through written agreements.

Some freelance commercial lawyers work for small businesses or the legal department of a larger company, or they work for law firms. Other characteristics of freelance commercial lawyers include the following:

  • They may work on temporary legal projects or a continuing basis.
  • They specialize in everything from bankruptcy to white-collar crime. Independent business people can work for clients, depending on how much time they want to give to their business.
  • They do all the typical legal tasks, including research; preparing pleadings, motions, discovery requests, and contracts; running depositions; helping prepare for trials: and appearing in court.
  • Some may even do paralegal work for tasks that don’t require a law license. 

Not all online lawyer sites are for matching clients and lawyers. For example, the Bar Association of some countries provides a database of legal professionals. The site allows you to search for a commercial law firm based on the location and the type of service they provide. You can then get in touch with the firms to discuss your needs for a commercial lawyer.

Can I Hire a Freelance Commercial Lawyer to Work Online?

Many freelancers work online these days. Technology, including video and secure document sharing, is not that difficult. Be sure the freelancer is licensed to work in your state and look into increased security (attorney-client privilege) for conversations and communications.

How are Freelance Commercial Lawyers Different From Law Firm Lawyers?

Law firms hire commercial attorneys full-time to work on projects, and they represent the firm in all their work. As a result, the business attorneys bring in business for the firm, but they get credit for these promotional activities in increased compensation and promotion.

Freelance commercial lawyers are not associated with just one firm. As a result, they may be more flexible with their time and work from home, online, or in your office.

When Should You Hire A Freelance Commercial Lawyer?

You can hire a freelance commercial lawyer anytime you need exceptional legal work done for your law firm or your legal department. For example, let’s say the legal department of your business typically works on contract matters. If your company has just been sued for wrongful termination and you don’t have a specialist on your legal staff, you could search for a freelance commercial lawyer to work for you on this case.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

The advantage of hiring a freelance commercial lawyer is the particular expertise they can bring to a case. In the example above, getting someone to run a wrongful termination case from within your company can bring you the benefit of the person’s experience.

Another advantage is that hiring a freelance commercial lawyer gives you flexibility in your legal staff. For example, when you are busy, you can hire a contract lawyer, and then you can let them go when the work is done. You also don’t have to pay benefits to these workers since they are independent, not employees.

One disadvantage of hiring a freelance commercial lawyer is that this person doesn’t know your business. It takes time for someone to understand your processes and policies. In addition, you will have to give the person information about the project and your business. If you are in a time crunch, this could take more time than you have.

The other disadvantage is the opposite. You don’t know if the attorney will be suitable for this job. Many excellent freelancers are out there, and you don’t know whether they will work out until you hire the person. So be sure to check work references and resumes carefully.

How Much Do Freelance Commercial Lawyers Charge?

Most freelance commercial lawyers, like other lawyers, work on hourly rates, but it’s also possible to have the person work on a flat fee or retainer basis. The cost varies based on the work’s complexity and the lawyer’s experience.

How Can I Find the Best Freelance Commercial Lawyer?

Several online services have databases of freelance commercial lawyers. They can match your business with a freelancer using your criteria. Most also provide support services to freelancers, and they serve as billing and collections agents. However, the contract between you isn’t usually part of their services.

In Conclusion

Make sure your expectations are clear and complete when dealing with commercial lawyers. In legal matters, you don’t want any misunderstandings or assumptions. Not only that but don’t try to hire a contract lawyer for a complex assignment if you are short on time. Instead, hire for lower-level work like writing documents or doing research and do the high-level work yourself. If you are a law firm, consider how you will handle letting clients know that the freelance commercial lawyer is on board with this case.