How am I going to get your well-earned fees paid to you? (This is your first concern, right?) I’ll make that easy. We’ll use PayPal. I’ll work with you to complete the necessary details. With PayPal, you can use either a credit card or your bank account. It’s up to you.
How much will you charge me for your work? (As if you cared.) After we agree that I should work with you on a project, we’ll negotiate my fees. I will consider caps or not-to-exceed limits on a project since from first-hand experience, I appreciate the need to control costs. We’ll address these details further in a written contract for any project that we agree to. Work that I can sub-contract out, such as any formatting, copy-editing, or legal research, I’ll bill at the rate charged by the sub-contractor plus any time that I spend directly managing the assignment. By the way, for legal research projects that merit referral, I’ll use www.thelegaltaxi.com, with which I am associated. I’ll oversee the research assignment and the results. As to the overall cost of any project, we’ll discuss this in advance and put a figure into our contract. I recommend that we agree on a target price (or how much you’re willing to spend) for the project, so that we can both monitor whether we’re meeting expectations. In the end, you’ll pay what you think is fair and reasonable. If you think that I should have completed the project for less than what I bill for it, we’ll take your number. I don’t want unhappy customers. Of course, if I’m unhappy with your number, and we can’t agree, we may not work again in the future. But, I don’t think that we’ll have that problem.
Whom do you work for? Lawyers. I’m not taking private clients (unless it has to do with a non-legal matter). I am not practicing law; I’m providing legal support services to other lawyers. I will not work adversely to lawyers with whom I’ve worked closely in the past. I will also not work adversely to my past clients. We will want to check to make sure that no conflicts exist before we embark on any project together. Of course, we’ll discuss all of this when deciding whether you should employ my services.
How will I get documents to you? You can send many documents via email, but larger documents, such as transcripts, can be too big to send via email. For the larger documents, we’ll use Dropbox. If you don’t use it already, you probably should. It’s easy, so download it now while you’re thinking about it.
Can we talk? By all means! Well, by means of the telephone or Skype, anyway. The phone calls that I’ve received here from the U.S. have been of good quality. My phone number is 86(country code for China)-1811.255.0722. However, I prefer Skype. Skype quality can vary occasionally because of lagging internet speeds that we have here or there, but it usually works pretty well. I’m StephenGreenleaf on Skype. Just remember the time difference: I’m not at my best at 3 a.m. Go here for help: http://24timezones.com/ . Of course, if you’re in the neighborhood of Suzhou, China (near Shanghai), we’ll get together in person.
Do you charge for talk time? Yes, if we’re engaged in an agreed project; no, if it’s to discuss aspects of some case or problem for which I don’t have a current assignment. Until we agree that we should work together on a project, and we formalize a contract, the clock isn’t running. I’m willing to do speak to you about your issues without obligation to you because I enjoy helping with cases, but it may not prove worthwhile for you to retain my services. I hope that I can provide value by discussing your case with you, and a little gratis is a good thing.
What ethics and other practical issues do we have to address? First, I’ll send you a draft contract for my services. If acceptable, we’ll both sign and that contract will define our relationship. As to ethics requirements, see the heading on the menu bar “Ethics and Practice of Freelance Lawyering“, which includes an Iowa ethics opinion as well as ABA opinions. If you’re in a jurisdiction other than Iowa, we’ll review your state opinions and make any adjustments.
If you have other questions, as well you might, please call me (above) or email me at GreenleafAdvocacy@gmail.com.