6 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring an Appearance Attorney

by Jana
Oct 26, 2021

Your law firm may be intrigued by the idea of hiring an appearance attorney to help address some of your firm’s workload, giving you and your staff the valuable time you need to focus on the things that are most important to your law firm. Maybe your firm has already worked with a freelance attorney or perhaps you’re mulling things over. Whether this is your first time trusting your important legal proceedings to a contract attorney or whether you’ve been down this road before, it’s crucial to avoid making mistakes when you hire an appearance attorney. Failing to do so could have a negative impact on your firm’s reputation. Remember, an appearance attorney is there to help your firm, not make things more difficult for your lawyers and in-house staff.

1. Avoid Performing a General Internet Search

Your law firm is pressed for time, and working with an appearance attorney is supposed to save you time. It might be tempting to bring up your preferred search engine and simply type in something along the lines of “contract attorney near me,” or “freelance lawyer website nationwide appearance attorneys.” You are likely to get a lot of results in return, few of which may actually be targeted to your needs. You may even come across some professional looking sites that look promising, but without knowing what you’re looking at your firm may find itself in for an unpleasant surprise. Try to target your search to better suit what your firm is looking for, and ensure any site that piques your interest is valid and has information to that backs up their claims.

2. Managing the Entire Search on Your Own

It can be difficult to relinquish any control when it comes to hiring an appearance attorney. After all, you’re staking the reputation of your firm to someone who you’ve likely never worked with before. The temptation to do a deep dive into a potential freelance attorney’s background, their experience and their standing with the state bar can be overwhelming. No one would blame your firm for wanting to ensure all boxes are checked. However, think of how much time your firm will have to spend carrying out these types of tasks. Now multiply that amount by however many freelance attorneys you are thinking of hiring. In the end, you may actually spend more time hiring and managing contract attorneys than you would if you had just done the necessary tasks yourself. If you connect with an attorney through a reputable company, you can put all of these fears to rest.

3. Waiting to Hire Someone Until the Last Minute

The attorneys in your firm have probably experienced the terror of scrambling to get things done right before an important deadline a time or two during their careers. This can also be a source of stress if your firm waits until the last minute to reach out to a freelance attorney. Your firm may not have time to properly vet the attorney or to ensure the hiring platform you’re using is on the up and up. While it’s true that sometimes things that are unpredictable and unavoidable can throw a wrench into even the best laid plans, you should still allow your firm plenty of time to ensure your contract attorney is the right fit for your firm’s needs.

4. Failing to Outline Your Case

Even the most experienced attorney is in for a rough ride if they are not at all prepared to handle a court appearance on behalf of your firm’s clients. Providing your freelance attorney with a brief outline of what you’re hoping to accomplish along with a brief case summary can go a long way toward ensuring a hearing goes as smoothly as possible.

5. Failing to Understand How Each Party Operates

Having a detailed case outline and summary is for naught if your appearance attorney is unable to gain access to the document. Perhaps your firm relies on Google Docs while the appearance attorney is a Word person. Maybe your firm understands the ins and outs of Outlook while your contract attorney uses a different email program entirely. Of course, security of documents is of utmost concern to your firm, but this could be a major blind spot for your appearance attorney. These types of things can be avoided when you hire an appearance attorney through a dedicated vendor platform. You should be able to upload documents into a secure platform and your appearance attorney should be able to easily view everything you’ve sent over. If your vendor doesn’t offer this type of feature, you may wish to look elsewhere.

6. Hiring Someone Without Relevant Experience

Your firm may have multiple collections hearings in a jurisdiction 200 miles away. These could be pro forma matters that could easily be handled by an appearance attorney who actually lives in the jurisdiction, saving your attorney the time it would take to travel to the hearing. However, does the freelance attorney actually have collections experience? Will they be able to anticipate the types of questions the court may ask regarding the case? The last thing you want is for your freelance attorney to get on the wrong side of a judge, especially when they are representing the interests of your law firm’s client. Be sure your appearance attorney actually has experience in the area you are looking for. You wouldn’t want a drunk driving defense attorney handling your collections hearing, or vice versa.

Docketly Can Help Your Law Firm Avoid All of These Mistakes

When it comes to hiring an appearance attorney, you don’t have to type “best contract attorneys near me” into a search engine and hope that you get lucky. Docketly is a vendor platform that makes matching up freelance attorneys with law firms a snap. With more than 10,000 attorneys located nationwide, Docketly can assist your firm in getting the help it needs from a qualified, experienced attorney. We make communication between law firms and attorneys seamless, and thoroughly vet all lawyers who work with us on our platform. To learn more about our services and how we can help your law firm handle legal matters more efficiently, schedule a demo with us today.

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