Updated June 23, 2020:

What is a contract lawyer? This legal professional is responsible for drafting, managing, and executing contracts between parties. You can hire a business contract lawyer on UpCounsel.

What Is A Contract?

A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties. Most contracts that hold any legal weight are made in writing, although oral contracts may be legally enforceable as well. A contract is only legal when it is entered into voluntarily by both parties and free from any duress. If one of the parties in the contracts does not fulfill the terms outlined in the agreement, they are committing a contract breach.

What is a Contract Lawyer?

Contract employees are becoming more common across a variety of businesses in many industries. Similarly, contract lawyers are working with businesses more often. In most aspects of the law, you will come across contract lawyers. When the legal industry's stability wavers, a contract lawyer can provide some stability and steadiness in a law firm. A law firm can hire a contract attorney on an as-needed basis to take on the work related to contracts while keeping the associates available for other tasks.

The demand for contract attorneys began when contracts needed more support in the due diligence and litigation processes. The legal industry is always changing and adapting to regulations and laws, so the need for a contract attorney is also ever-shifting. Corporations and law firms are now using contract lawyers in more major roles to keep costs down while protecting themselves. A law firm is generally looking to save money without sacrificing service quality to the clients.

Contract lawyers come with a variety of backgrounds. Some include:

  • Lawyers who are currently in transition
  • Tenured lawyers looking to pick up additional work
  • Attorneys who want more flexibility in their scheduling, such as working parents
  • Lawyers operating solo practices and wishing to supplement their workflow
  • Attorneys who recently relocated to a new area

Some contract lawyers work for an agency and provide services for a variety of clients, while others serve as part of the in-house legal department for a company or work for a law firm. Other names for contract lawyers include:

  • Non-partner track attorneys
  • Staff attorneys
  • Of counsel
  • Contract attorney
  • eDiscovery attorney
  • Consultant
  • Document review attorney
  • Litigation support attorney

What Does a Contract Attorney Do?

The main responsibilities of a contract lawyer include drawing up and revising legal contracts and documents. Contract attorneys perform many of the same duties as in-house counsel or associates at a law firm.

They might also assist with:

  • Regulatory and compliance requirements
  • Preparing case strategies
  • Assisting in the eDiscovery and Discovery stages of a legal case
  • Real estate transactions
  • Reviewing and modifying employee manuals
  • Labor and employment issues
  • Providing support to the litigation team
  • Deals related to mergers and acquisitions
  • Performing legal research
  • Intellectual property issues
  • Conducting depositions
  • Drafting settlements and contracts
  • Preparing annual documents and reports

Various businesses and law firms use contract lawyers for different purposes and roles. A law firm might need to hire a contract lawyer for specialized expertise or quick help. If a firm suddenly has a massive increase in workload, a contract lawyer could also take on some of the work to offset the stress on the other associates and partners. Contract attorneys may also help eliminate a law firm's weakness by providing specialized support.

Some law firms also provide work to contract attorneys on a temporary basis to see how well they fit with the team and the workload before offering them a position on a full-time basis.

How Do I Know If I Need a Contract Attorney?

Legal contracts and agreements must follow a specific format and include specific wording in order to be binding. When you work with a contract attorney to draft and execute your contracts, the agreements will be free of any loopholes, legally enforceable, and admissible in court. Before you start the process of drafting any type of legal agreement or document, it's smart to bring in a contract attorney to take care of the entire process. You can also use this legal professional's service to review an existing contract before it is signed.

If you need help understanding what is a contract lawyer, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.