The Ethics Of Engaging Contract Attorneys: Is it Right for Your Business?
Engaging contract attorneys is becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses to access legal services. As technology advances, so too do the ways in which corporations can access the legal help they need without going through a traditional law firm. Axiom Law has become a leader in this space and provides an efficient way for companies to find experienced attorneys who are willing to work on a contract basis. But while this option may seem appealing, some ethical considerations should be taken into account before engaging with contract attorneys.
What is a contract lawyer?
A “contract lawyer” is someone who works as an independent contractor rather than being employed by a law firm or other business entity. These lawyers provide specialised legal services on an “as needed” basis and typically have more flexible hours than their full-time counterparts. This type of arrangement allows organisations to get the expertise they need without going through the process of recruiting and hiring people on their payroll.
Pros and cons of using contract lawyers
Using contract lawyers offers many potential benefits to businesses, including cost savings through reduced overheads, reduced administrative burden of managing multiple employees, and easier access to specialised skills when needed. However, there are also some ethical dilemmas associated with using outside counsel rather than relying solely on in-house counsel or internal resources.
Ensuring appropriate oversight
A key concern when using contract lawyers is ensuring adequate oversight of their work product and activities while they are employed by your organisation. It’s important that any contracts signed include provisions outlining how performance will be monitored and evaluated during the employment period – not just after termination – and that all necessary steps are taken to protect confidential information exchanged between both parties during the engagement period. In addition, employers must consider whether they have sufficient experience or knowledge of local laws governing employment relationships to ensure compliance throughout the term of the contract.
Mitigating risk & protecting client interests
Another key factor to consider when engaging contract lawyers is mitigating the risk of potential conflicts of interest between your organisation’s interests and those of its clients or other third parties involved in matters handled by these professionals. To ensure that unethical behaviour doesn’t occur under any circumstances, it is essential that all appropriate safeguards are put in place at the outset (e.g. screening processes to identify potential conflict issues), and that ongoing engagements are proactively monitored for signs that such situations may arise during project execution.
Address potential issues early
It’s also important for employers to set out clear expectations upfront regarding communication protocols, billing practices, timelines, availability requirements (e.g. if you need to be available at certain days/times), etc., so that there are no misunderstandings between the two parties at later stages that could lead to disputes or, worse, litigation issues that arise from not addressing them early in the engagement lifecycle. In addition, ensure that written agreements detailing these parameters are reviewed, negotiated, signed, executed and properly filed: this should ensure greater clarity of roles and responsibilities going forward.
Train staff properly on professional standards of conduct
Finally, employers should always strive to ensure that their staff understand the professional standards expected of contracting professionals – particularly when dealing with sensitive data shared in contractual relationships. By educating everyone upfront on applicable industry codes of conduct (e.g., ABA Model Rules, state bar rules), as well as relevant company policies governing contractors’ use/distribution/storage/transmission/disposal procedures, employers can help reduce the likelihood of liabilities arising from conflicting interests surfacing later down the line.
By taking these proactive steps prior to engaging contract lawyers, companies can help to ensure better outcomes overall; ones where both sides are satisfied that the agreed objectives have been achieved within an acceptable timeframe + budget – something that ultimately benefits all parties involved!