Frequently Asked Questions
You may have a lot of questions regarding hiring Appeals and Briefs by Michael Skotnicki, Esq. to perform legal work such a drafting an appellate brief. The information provided here should answer many questions. However, should any questions remain, use the contact information to ask Michael Skotnicki directly.
Do you work for non-lawyers?
No. Appeals and Briefs by Michael Skotnicki, Esq. is strictly a freelance writing service for lawyers and law firms.
Do you serve as co-counsel in a case?
No. Appeals and Briefs by Michael Skotnicki, Esq. is not a practing law firm that takes on clients, and he does not sign briefs or pleadings. Michael Skotnicki prepares briefs and pleadings to be signed and filed by the lawyer or law firm that hires him for that service. He acts as a contractor to that lawyer or firm.
Is it ethical for me to hire a freelance attorney to perform legal work needed for representation of my client?
Yes. Outsourcing of legal work to a freelance attorney is a growing trend to contain legal costs and to allow small firms to serve their clients as well as larger firms. ABA Opinion 08-451 states: "There is nothing unethical about a lawyer outsourcing legal and nonlegal services, provided the outsourcing lawyer renders legal services to the client with the 'legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation,' as required by Rule 1.1."
Can I hire Appeals and Briefs by Michael Skotnicki, Esq., if my legal practice is in a different state?
Yes. Although Michael Skotnicki is only licensed as an attorney in Alabama, ABA Opinion 08-451 explains: "Ordinarily, an individual who is not admitted to practice law in a particular jurisdiction may work for a lawyer who is so admitted, provided that the lawyer remains responsible for the work being performed and that the individual is not held out as being a duly admitted lawyer."
If I hire Appeals and Briefs by Michael Skotnicki, Esq., who will perform the work contracted for?
Michael Skotnicki personally performs the work for all projects.
Once you have been hired, what is the process for providing you the record on appeal in a case, and what work product will I receive upon completion of your work?
If on paper, the record on appeal can be delivered via courier service, or if electronic files are available they can be e-mailed. If the files exceed email storage limits a file-sharing service such as Dropbox can be used. Briefs can be provided as either Word or WordPerfect documents. Because attorney ethics rules require oversight of the work of a freelance attorney, even though the final version of a document provided to the hiring attorney will have been edited several times in the briefing process, a final edit and fomatting or tables of contents and authorities are generally the responsibility of the hiring attorney.
Do I have to tell my client that I have hired you to draft a brief or provide other services?
Each circumstance is different. Under ABA Opinion 08-451, if confidential client information must be provided to Michael Skotnicki, Esq. in order to perform the work requested, your client must agree in advance to the sharing of that information. Thus, if you only need a research memo prepared, you likely do not have to inform your client.
Will any confidential information provided be protected by the attorney-client privilege?
Because Michael Skotnicki does not form an attorney-client relationship with you or your client, there is no direct attorney-client privilege regarding confidential information. However, because Michael Skotnicki is hired by you as an agent who you direct and have control over his work, your attorney-client provilege should apply to any shared confidentail information. However, please check the law in your jurisdiction.
What is your policy regarding conflict of interests?
Because Appeals and Briefs by Michael Skotnicki, Esq. maintains a file of all contractual engagements for freelance legal services, including the names of all the parties in addition to the client of the hiring attorney or firm. He recognizes actual conflicts of interest involving parties if actually engaged by the lawyer of a party in a matter, but will take on engagements where he is asked to brief a side of legal issue where he he has previously briefed the opposing side (i.e. issue conflict).
Do you charge extra for any expenses, such as an internet-based legal research service like Westlaw?
Michael Skotnicki, Esq. has access to two research services and is located a short distance from a large law school library. He believes that the cost of legal research should be included up front in the cost agreed upon and thus Appeals and Briefs by Michael Skotnicki, Esq. does not bill you for the cost of legal research unless the certain research needed is particularly becessary but costly to obtain. You will be notified of this before any costs are incurred. Generally, all expenses are included in the cost agreed upon before beginning the project.
Do you have malpractice insurance coverage?
Yes. Although Michael Skotnicki, Esq. does not form an attorney-client relationship with any clients of the attorney or firm that hires him to prepare a brief or engage in another task, he
does maintain professional liability insurance.
Do I pay you, or does my client pay you directly?
The lawyer or law firm enters into a contract for the freelance legal work and pays Michael Skotnicki, Esq. directly for the services. He does not accept payment from the contracting attorney's client. As noted on the Fees/Terms page, partial payment is required in advance. For income tax purposes, you must provide Michael Skotnicki with a 1099 form for miscellaneous income.
How do I go about passing the cost of your work to my client?
Under ABA Opinion 00-420, it depends on whether the fee to a freelance lawyer is billed as "legal services" or as an "expense." If billed as legal services, you may add a surcharge to the fee paid, as long as the total sum charged is reasonable for the work performed. Under ABA Opinion 00-420, if billed as an expense, you may not add a surcharge to the amount when billing your client. However, please check with the State Bar in your jurisdiction as to what is allowable.