It’s Ask the Expert Tuesday! Running a solo or small law practice without help can be overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a law student as your on-demand law clerk?
Well, you can. Jack West created that resource with Book-It-Legal, a tech company that puts lawyers across the country in touch with law students for per-project tasks.
Read the Interview with Jack West
Can you please tell me a little about your background and the services you offer?
My background is in corporate transactional law–securities, commercial real estate, M&A, and tax. I was in private practice for three years before starting Book-It Legal. Our online platform gives attorneys access to a pool of top law students across the country for help with research, editing, document review, articles, and more. Attorneys name the price they are willing to pay to have a job performed, receive applications from interested students, and select the best candidates for their particular projects.
Why did you decide to offer your services?
Our service fills a need I faced as both a law student and as a practicing lawyer. As a student, it was difficult to gain experience across a broad array of practice areas and find time to work around a busy academic schedule. Our service satisfies the need for a flexible way to pick up work during the school year or during holiday break or between clerkships. When I was in practice, the firm had a traditional summer clerkship program, but it would have been extremely helpful to quickly get a clerk to help with a project whenever the need arose.
How can lawyers benefit from your tool or service?
Book-It Legal gives attorneys, especially those at smaller firms, an affordable, go-to outsourcing option for smaller projects. Our platform provides an easy way to leverage a pool of great students when lawyers need an extra hand but don’t have the time to do an extended search for a clerk.
Name 3 things that potential users misunderstand about your service and set the record straight.
Our service is fairly straight-forward, but we do get questions about confidentiality and conflicts of interest. We handle confidentiality by having every student agree to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct under our Terms of Service, as well as recommending attorneys have students sign an additional confidentiality agreement at the outset of each project.
For conflicts, an attorney can send a conflicts check to the student they are working with in their first communication to that student. We’re also asked sometimes if lawyers have the option to post projects anonymously, and that answer is yes!
Of course, the attorney’s identity is disclosed to the student selected to complete the project. I’ll also quickly go over how payment works. Attorneys set the fixed price they are willing to pay to have a project completed, and interested students are free to apply.
It’s a free market, so if an attorney tries to low-ball students, they probably won’t get many applications, but we very rarely see that. Projects are usually priced fairly. This system both allows for attorneys to control costs and for students to know how much they will make before applying.
If lawyers fail to adopt your service or tool, what can they expect?
Lawyers who fail to adopt our service are losing out on time savings that they could use to do higher-level, billable work. Failing to delegate results in a less efficient and more stressed work environment. You’re also missing out on a way to provide some mentorship and experience to law students who desperately need both.
What’s the best actionable advice you can give lawyers?
Learn to delegate! Dina can help show you the way! In terms of using our service, I always recommend that lawyers dip their toe in the water by assigning a non-mission-critical task at first. Perhaps a blog post or article or brief-editing project. Once you get great work and see the benefits of outsourcing some projects, you’ll feel more comfortable assigning other tasks.
I also advise that you have a two or three different law students you work with so that when one becomes unavailable due to academic commitments or clerkships, you’ll have a few other trusted students to turn to
Do you have a special offer you’d like to share?
Yes! Your readers can use the discount code OUTSOURCEIT to get 10% off their project.
Note: It’s free to sign up for the platform. You don’t pay until you post a project that gets staffed.
How can lawyers connect with you?
The best way to stay up to date with us is to sign up through our site (free) to be added to our email list. You can also follow us through social media on Facebook and Twitter.
Wildcard- What’s your favorite food or beverage & why?
Mmmmm. So many delicious choices. I love Thai and Indian curries. The coconut milk and curry powder and ginger and peanuts and all the delicious basil and cilantro and lime mixed in. I got to visit Thailand once, and the food just blew me away. It’s not too difficult to whip up a good curry at home either.
Here’s the video. I’m still learning Ecamm so you’ll see me but hear Jack.