Not every attorney makes a good contract attorney. A good contract attorney must have a multitude of attributes. For example, it is not suffice that the attorney interested in doing contract work be smart, experienced and knowledgeable, although all three qualities are important. A good contract attorney must be a good listener and be confident in their abilities. A good contract attorney must also be able to carefully follow directions and not misconstrue or take offense to having to do so. In short, an attorney, interested in doing contract work, must be able to comfortably work in a subordinate capacity, regardless of their past accomplishments or achievements. Simply put, no one is interested in working with a prima donna, someone that is set in their ways and/or that is reluctant or unwilling, to do things as directed. A good contract attorney must be attentive to detail, be personable and easy to work with. A good contract attorney must also be neat, organized and have excellent legal research and drafting skills. A successful contract attorney is not focused on their compensation. Simply put, compensation for contract work is, to say the least, modest, in comparison to the level of compensation that typical practicing attorneys charge and receive for their legal services. Another way of putting it is, that if the amount of compensation that you need or want working as a contract attorney is very important, there is a good chance that contract work is not well-suited for you. Frankly speaking, part-time, project/contract work should be viewed as a means of supplementing one's primary source of income. While possible, under certain circumstances, contract work can, in and of itself, provide a well-qualified attorney with a good living. However, generally speaking, the sporatic nature and availability of contract work, can make one's dependence on such work insufficient and, ultimately, very stressful. Understanding exactly what a client needs and wants is also particularly very important when in comes to being a good contract attorney. For example, a good contract attorney must always be careful not to do anything, work wise, that has not been authorized and/or cleared by the client. To avoid such problems, contract attorneys should be sure to always confirm, in advance and in writing, the scope of the work that they have agreed to take on for a client and make absolutely sure that he/she, and the client, are on the same page. Last, but certainly not least, a good contract attorney must be meticulous when it comes to keeping a good record of the work that he/she performed, and the amount of time that they spent doing the work. In short, it takes a lot to be a good contract attorney!
Werner S. Lewin, Jr., Esq. is a graduate of Cornell University. Born and raised in San Francisco, Werner received his JD from the University of California Hastings College of Law in 1980. Werner practiced business and real estate litigation before founding Attorney Assistance in 1986.