I received this from a reader:
Where can a solo find freelance lawyers who have really good contract editing and negotiation skillsets? I have had a really hard time finding such people, including through temp agencies. My biggest challenge is finding people who not only know how to draft agreements, but are also efficiency-minded.
Is there a market for such people? I have questions.
First, I’m not sure “contract editing” makes sense. Most of what you see is crappy, in terms of what it says and how it says it, and fixing it involves serious work. If you’re just editing, it’s likely you’re papering over the dysfunction. So maybe my reader should be looking for contract drafters, period.
Second, what’s a freelance lawyer? Someone who doesn’t have a job and isn’t a solo? Someone who has a job but is willing to do side gigs? I can recommend solos for this sort of work, but presumably the economics wouldn’t work.
And third, I can think of nonlawyers who could do this sort of work. See this recent post about nonlawyers and contract drafting.
What do you think?
3 thoughts on “Freelance Contract Drafting?”
I’ve occasionally paid and been paid for second reads of new or newly revised forms, sections, and addenda. Always among solos or small firms. From time to time, I’ve taken or redeemed favors for the same kind of work. In any case, it’s always involved colleagues I already knew well. The tricky bit here is whether you need to or should “engage” the second reader. A few hundred bucks for one markup, with no client-facing relationship, isn’t much, especially if you’re racking up a potential conflict.
I’ve also paid nonlawyers for second reads or even plain-terms rewrites of language bound for contracts. Especially when “everyday English” was an explicit client goal. I haven’t practiced law too long, but apparently too long to tell everyday English from legal English. Some of these folks I knew less well.
Frankly, a lot of this kind of work gets done by opposing counsel. When I develop new forms for clients in limited-scope engagements, I’ll often stick around to run the first few deals. Both to see where opposing has hang-ups, and also to see how practical usage evolves the conversation between me and my client on objectives, priorities, and so on.
I have operated a business in part providing such services. I found more demand than I could satisfy singlehanded. Unfortunately there is a deeply chilling effect provided by the looming specter of accusation of practicing unlicensed law. It’s a shame, because there is a massive market for those who can help businesspersons collect and structure their thoughts in the form of an agreement with a party.
I did a lot of this for pay as a solo working from my home between in-house gigs. I got all of that by word of mouth.
I also did and do this for free for friends who set up their own businesses. Being an entrepreneur seems terrifying to me, so the little I can do to help them feels really insignificant, but worthwhile.