What is Contract Counselors?
Contract Counselors is a platform connecting law firms with contract attorneys who provide legal support as independent contractors. Our mission is to simplify and streamline the process to provide law firms flexible support when they need it. Our platform offers payment processing, tax reporting, secure messaging, document sharing, videoconferencing, meeting scheduling, and much more.
Who uses Contract Counselors?
Contract Counselors is used by hundreds of law firms as a way to efficiently handle busy periods without hiring additional full-time staff. Law firms use Contract Counselors for both short term projects and ongoing support.
Who can hire through the Contract Counselors platform?
Contract Counselors is exclusively available to law firms. Law firms of any size, including solo practitioners, can hire contract attorneys through the Contract Counselors platform. Contract Counselors is not available to individuals or businesses.
How long does it take to start a project?
Filling out a project form takes under five minutes. Law firms often receive applications within minutes of posting and can message applicants through the platform to discuss project details and begin working immediately.
Are all contract attorneys licensed U.S. attorneys?
To be eligible to perform work as a freelance attorney on the Contract Counselors platform, you must be an active, licensed member in good standing with at least one U.S. State Bar. The Contract Counselors team verifies upon registration that each freelance attorney is an active member in good standing with at least one U.S. State Bar. All freelance attorneys must also register with our third-party payment provider, Stripe, before being eligible to apply for projects. Hiring attorneys should independently confirm that any freelance attorney is licensed and in good standing in a particular state if the project requires.
Does Contract Counselors handle tax reporting?
Yes, Contract Counselors will file and issue IRS Form 1099s to all qualifying contract attorneys that have completed projects through the Contract Counselors platform the previous calendar year.
Note: Every situation is different. We recommend consulting with legal counsel and your CPA to determine the proper classification between employee and independent contractor. You can also find more information here from the IRS.
How does Contract Counselors maintain security?
We take the security of your data seriously. That’s why Contract Counselors uses Amazon Web Services (AWS), the industry’s most trusted infrastructure provider, to secure all user data and for the encryption of files and communications transmitted over our platform. Our platform is fully serverless, so protections are provided directly by AWS. All data is encrypted in transit and encrypted at rest, using bank-grade AES-256 via AWS S3 and AWS DynamoDB. Our underlying infrastructure, provided by AWS, is compliant with all global standards. All payments are processed by the industry leading payment processor, Stripe. Contract Counselors does not store any debit card, credit card, or banking information.
How are payments handled?
All payments are processed by Stripe. After signing up for Contract Counselors, go to your Account Settings and follow the prompts to register for Stripe. Hiring law firms will simply be prompted to add debit or credit card information, which will be used for payments. Contract attorneys will be prompted to provide personal information for Stripe to verify their identity (and later issue tax forms) and banking information to receive payments. Contract Counselors does not store any debit card, credit card, or banking information.
How much does it cost to use Contract Counselors?
Signing up to Contract Counselors is free for both law firms and contract attorneys. There are no fees for posting or applying to projects. There are no monthly or annual membership fees. Instead, Contract Counselors charges a 20% service fee for all completed projects. (Stripe also charges nominal payment processing fees.)
What are some ethical obligations to consider when outsourcing work?
Lawyers engaged in the outsourcing of substantive legal work should consider their ethical obligations to do the following: (1) ensure competence and appropriate supervision; (2) preserve the client’s confidential information; (3) check for conflicts of interest; (4) disclose the outsourcing arrangement to the client; and (5) avoid assisting in the unauthorized practice of law.
Some helpful opinions include ABA Formal Opinions 88-356 (Temporary Lawyers), 00-420 (Surcharge to Client for Use of a Contract Lawyer), and 08-451 (Lawyer’s Obligations When Outsourcing Legal and Nonlegal Support Services). All attorney users are responsible for ensuring that they satisfy their ethical obligations under their unique circumstances.
How does it work?
Once you’ve signed up, create a project and set it live. Licensed attorneys will apply and you can message, video call or hire them through the platform on a flat fee or hourly basis. Contract Counselors handles all the administrative work (like issuing 1099s) so you don’t have to.
Is my data safe with Contract Counselors?
Contract Counselors uses Amazon Web Services, and your account credentials and project data are protected through bank-level encryption.
How do I register as a law firm?
Simply fill out your law firm profile and add a payment method in your Account Settings to begin hiring. We recommend filling out as many of the optional profile fields as possible (e.g., link your firm website, add a profile picture or firm logo, etc.). Just as you prefer to see who you are working with, so do our contract attorneys.
How do I find contract attorneys?
Press the button to Post Project and fill out a project form describing your project. Your project will instantly be added to our project database. As contract attorneys apply to your project, you will be notified by email and can compare attorney profiles and prior reviews. You will also have access to our searchable attorney database where you can invite candidates to apply to your project directly. We recommend providing as much detail as possible on the project form and letting our ‘Match Score’ find you the perfect candidate. We also recommend using our secure messaging, document-sharing, and video-conferencing features to perform any necessary conflict checks and to discuss project details with candidates prior to hiring.
Can I post a project privately?
Yes. You have the option to post your project privately, which means the project will only be visible to contract attorneys who you invite directly to apply for the project.
Do I need to directly supervise the contract attorney’s work?
Yes, the hiring law firm must directly supervise and review all work performed by contract attorneys hired through the Contract Counselors platform. The hiring law firm retains all responsibility for the work product of the contract attorney.
How do I get started as a contract attorney?
Fill out an attorney profile detailing your education and legal experience (it takes less than 10 minutes). Register with Stripe by clicking the button in Account Settings and following a few prompts. Once you have performed these steps, we will verify that you are an attorney in good standing with at least one state bar. You will then be eligible to perform work through the Contract Counselors platform.
How do I find work?
There are two ways to find work. First, law firms can search our attorney database and invite you to apply for projects. Second, you can search our project database and apply to as many projects as you want (for free). Our ‘Match Score’ also helps law firms and attorneys find each other. We recommend tailoring your profile to the areas of law you are passionate about. Sometimes law can be very specialized, and law firms may prefer hiring contract attorneys with relevant experience. Law firms can also favorite your profile for easy access on future projects.
Can I connect a Calendly account?
Yes. While optional, under Account Settings you can add your Calendly account URL to allow law firms to schedule meetings with you.
Sign up for a free Calendly account here.