Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 22

FEATURE
recently took the freelance route after working almost 20 years at the
Law Office of Mona Lyons, says that he's still trying to finesse the art of
marketing his lawyering skills.
" Marketing [myself] is not something that I naturally like to do, " Butcher
says. " Some people are natural marketers. They promote themselves.
Some people have a strong online presence. Others are good at marketing
themselves at in-person events. I basically did an outreach to
attorneys that I know in my line of work. "
A member of the Metropolitan
Washington Employment Lawyers
Association, Butcher has tapped into
the group's listserv for freelance
attorneys. " I post notices on the
listserv, introducing myself and de -
scribing what I do - research and
writing, motions, pleadings, trial
support. And I got some really positive
feedback pretty quickly, " he says.
" There are all kinds of ways to plug
into the marketing infrastructure
that is already there if you are a solo
WAYNE R. COHEN
Cohen & Cohen, P.C.
[or] a small firm, " Butcher continues.
" As a freelancer, it is not that simple.
Attorneys and law firms are not
going out there looking for freelancers
as much. And when they do, there really is not an established
way to do that. " Clearinghouses for freelance legal work do exist, " but
they are not really a sustainable way to make a living, " Butcher says.
For Kibria, Cohen, and Rosario-Richardson, creating good relationships
with existing clients is also key to growing their respective practices.
" Other clients typically refer clients to me, or managers in the entertainment
industry refer clients to me, " Rosario-Richardson says. " Jay-Z is not
going to hire a lawyer because they have an ad in a magazine. That is not
going to happen. It's through referrals. "
Cohen ran print ads to promote his firm when it launched in the 1990s,
but since then business has primarily flowed from referrals from his
engagements as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine Caruso School of
Law and as an associate professorial lecturer in law at the George
Washington University Law School.
BE NIMBLE BUT REALISTIC
Another challenge for small firm practitioners is how to properly staff
their practice and contract lawyers when the need arises. " The dilemma
for me still is that I really need lawyers who [are] about four years or five
years out of law school. But that person who's on the open market is
really getting paid more than what I can pay them in my practice, "
Rosario-Richardson says. " So, I partner with other lawyers at other firms.
The transactional work, I can pretty much handle. " Over the years
Rosario-Richardson says she has hired several paralegals and interns to
help manage the workload.
For freelance lawyers like Butcher, there is no backup to fall back on. " As
a solo practitioner, I do not have any support staff. I do not have a paralegal.
I do not have anyone to proofread documents and print them.
I do not have any of that support, " Butcher says. " It definitely forces
22 WASHINGTON LAWYER * JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2022
PETER BUTCHER
Freelance Attorney
you to be more independent and handle everything from A to Z in
what you are doing. If something does not get filed by the deadline,
it's on you. "
With less than a year of experience as a freelance lawyer, Butcher says one
of his greatest challenges has been learning how to be a jack of all trades.
" You will be blindsided by things along the way, " he says. " But if you [are
assigned] a retaliation claim, if you understand a sexual harassment claim
and you understand the facts of your case, then you get the contours of it
and can argue the case. As a freelancer, people are going to reach out to
you with a fraud claim, a defamation claim, some claim involving financial
matters. You are getting things that [are] brand new to you. "
Butcher says he realized early on that he needed to be nimble to manage
the demands of freelance work, such as when a firm asks him to file an
opposition to a motion for summary judgment within two weeks. If the
case involves an area of the law he's not familiar with, Butcher says he
has to factor in time needed to get up to speed. " And I have to be honest
with myself and whoever is hiring me. I am not going to charge somebody
for the time I spend to get proficient in the area of law that is
involved in their claim, " Butcher says. " This is a distinction between
freelancing and being in a firm. If I am in a firm and somebody hands
a project like that to me, okay, I could take a day, two days, to get up
to speed. I am getting a paycheck for that whole time. "
Like most solo attorneys and small
firm practitioners, finding the right
mix of clients to sustain his practice
is key. " When you're a freelance
lawyer, you're not as elastic as a firm
is, " says Butcher. " If you have 100
attorneys, or even just 5 or 10 attorneys
in a firm, you can deal with the
ups and downs of the volume that
comes in the door. "
Being a freelance attorney means
" that margin is so thin, " Butcher says,
" where you go from handling a
couple projects at a time to ending
up with nothing. Or you can end up
with too much coming in, and you
have to turn stuff down. "
The thought of hanging out his own shingle has yet to appeal to him.
" Some of it is not really a part of what I think of as my skill set, " Butcher
says. " What appeals to me being a freelancer is that I can really specialize
in what I love, which is the research and writing. The rainmaking thing?
I would not know how to get clients. That just does not appeal to me for
various reasons. So, for me, it is really a matter of finding something that
I love, then offering that as a service to other people. I prefer that to
being a full-service law firm for myself. "
Reach D.C. Bar staff writer John Murph at jmurph@dcbar.org.
The D.C. Bar's Practice Management Advisory Service offers free,
confidential services and classes to Bar members interested in starting
or growing their own firms. Visit dcbar.org/pmas for more information.
Courtesy of Peter Butcher
Courtesy of Wayne Cohen
http://www.dcbar.org/pmas

Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022

From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Protecting the Integrity of the Profession: A Conversation on Legal Ethics
How Far Should You Go? Frivolous Claims & Litigation Ethics
The Solo/Small Firm Life: Lean, Mean Business Machine
Upping Your Game With Professional Coaching
The Founding of the D.C. Bar
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
ABA Delegate’s Corner
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Intro
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - A
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - B
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 4
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 5
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Protecting the Integrity of the Profession: A Conversation on Legal Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 12
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 14
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - How Far Should You Go? Frivolous Claims & Litigation Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Solo/Small Firm Life: Lean, Mean Business Machine
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Upping Your Game With Professional Coaching
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 26
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Founding of the D.C. Bar
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 32
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - ABA Delegate’s Corner
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover4
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