Outsourcing legal and legal support services

A new, ABA Formal Opinion 8-451 (August 5th), states the obvious: A lawyer may, but is responsible for, outsource work to lawyers and non-lawyers support appropriate to represent the interests of his/her client.

Parameters of this approval include i) the fee for the outsourced work must be reasonable; ii) the client should be informed of such relationship and may need to consent; iii) the lawyer not assist in the unauthorized practice of law; and iv) the lawyer must supervise the outsourced work to assure that competency and quality assurance standards are met.

Delegation is a main principle to profitability and success. By delegating, you can get the best person to do the work, and you can thereby liberate some of your time to seek new, high interest, profitable work.

But, be careful! As my wife says, "… there’s no free lunch."  When you get more clients, more business, you need more people to work on the matters … And now, one day, you wake up and find that you have the increased revenue you want, and too little time to do it without more delegation, more people … and you become more of a manager of legal services and less of a hands-on lawyer. Some can handle this role change, some can’t … Of course, that’s the only way to become a larger law firm and earn more money … and have more responsibility.

Many sole practitioners utter the refrain that they want to be "lone rangers." They want to be on their own, without the political "games" of an organization. Yet, interestingly, almost to a person, I hear them say they want more revenue. How can you have more revenue without growth? How can you have growth without having an organization? How can you have an organization without a role change, i.e., becoming a manager of legal services? It would be nice to be able to move toward a specific goal, a certain "line in the sand," and stay right there all the time. But, ours is not a static world. Oh, what a wonderful web we weave when we start having "wants."  <g>

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