Updated June 30, 2020:

A contract attorney hourly rate is that rate that a contract attorney charges per hour of work. This rate varies depending on how much experience an attorney has. New York City used to be the town of the top salaries, but that's now changed. There are many contractors in New York City that are begging others to not take a job for less than $30 an hour, so they don't set the rate lower. A new attorney can charge anywhere from $35–45 an hour, while an attorney with more experience can make up to $125 an hour.

There are different liberal overtime laws in California, which means employers have caps on how many hours you can work each day or each week. With many $40 per hour jobs, the limit for working each day is eight hours and in a week is 40 hours per week unless there's an unusual deadline. Boston and other East Coast cities have $30 an hour as a standard, while Kentucky averages $24 an hour. If you work in Dallas, Texas, you can expect $20 an hour along with free parking.

Top Reasons to Hire a Contract Attorney

There are many reasons to hire an attorney. They include the following:

  • Associates can be costly.
  • Contract attorneys can save a company money.
  • The bottom line increases with a contract attorney.
  • Only work that's done is paid for.

When you hire an associate that makes $70,000 a year, the company has a fixed cost of $1,790 every week no matter how much or how little work ends up getting done. Having a contract attorney saves money because if it's a slow week, you don't have to pay anything. If all you need is 10 hours of work, that's all you need to pay for. If the arrangement is for a flat fee, you only pay that rate no matter how long it'll take in total.

A majority of contract attorneys are found by law firms and corporations by an agency that specializes in them. The firm will pay an hourly rate to the firm for every attorney they provide, and the agency then pays the attorney. Contract attorneys can be paid anywhere from $30 and $125 per hour, which is usually only a third of what the billing rate of associates is.

Law firms can handle the billing process in several ways. They can bill the attorney at the rate they bill other attorneys in the firm, or there can be a profit and overhead percentage that's added to the contract attorney's rate. The amount that the agency gets paid could get marked up based on the overhead cost that adds up when using a contract attorney.

The Abba Speaks

The American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, or ABBA, has created a formal stance that can help decide if it's legal for law firms to make a profit off using contract attorneys. They say it's not allowed for a lawyer to create an extra income source for the law firm off the contract attorney past what's found in the professional services provision. Contract attorneys provide their legal services to law firms, and these services aren't a new source of profits for law firms. This means the firms should recognize the profit on these services.

Law firms just need to modify the manner of how they provide legal services when using contract attorneys. By making this modification, legal services can be more economical and efficient than the regular method of how legal services are provided. When attorneys are worked until they aren't efficient any longer and are weary, they'll have to hire new attorneys. This means they have to spend time and money training them, and their future at the firm may be uncertain.

Disclosure Not Required

Another topic of discussion is if a law firm needs to disclose to their client that they're using contract attorneys. The committee said that if there's a temporary lawyer who's doing independent work for one of their clients without being closely supervised by a lawyer who works for the law firm, the firm needs to make the client aware of this fact and the client needs to provide consent.

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