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3 Tips for Hiring Contract Attorneys to Make Appearances

By George Khoury, Esq. on August 30, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Sometimes scheduling conflicts cannot be fixed. While you may be able to perform super-human feats, being in two places at the same time just isn't possible. Fortunately, help is usually just a call, or even a click or tap, away.

Contract attorneys can perform all sorts of various tasks for you. One commonly assigned task is making "special" appearances on behalf of an attorney at record in court for the less important hearings and conferences, like scheduling or arraignment.

Below, you'll find three practical tips for hiring appearance attorneys.

1. Avoid Last Minute Contracts When Possible

Hiring an appearance attorney last minute is stressful enough, but then when you add in the fact that you have to pay extra, it's even worse. While you cannot always predict the future, you should know well in advance that you won't want to drive 275 miles roundtrip for a simple pretrial hearing or scheduling conference.

The earlier the booking is made, the more money you can save. Also, you can usually book in advance and cancel without a penalty a few days ahead of the appearance.

Pro tip: Don't forget to cancel a booking when you're hearing gets taken off calendar by the judge.

2. Make an Outline With a Case Summary

Appearance attorneys, particularly those that work for appearance attorney services, will not have the same level of self-motivation as you, or an associate, would. Creating an easy to understand outline that spells out your goals for the appearance, as well as a brief case summary, can actually save the day. Providing a copy of the active complaint, as well as a brief history of the case and issues can also be very helpful in preventing disaster.

It's not unheard of for judges to grill a contract appearance attorney about matters in the case unrelated to the present hearing. If an appearance attorney doesn't know the case well enough, it could raise the ire of the court at you, the attorney of record.

3. Build Your Appearance Network Organically

Building your peer network is a great way to get appearances covered at low, or sometimes even, no cost to you. For example, in certain high volume practice areas like traffic, or DUI, where attorneys will handle multiple cases in a single court in a single day, it's not uncommon for competing practitioners to help each other out on days they will be in a certain court.

To build the network, you actually have to show up to court early and talk to other attorneys, particularly the ones who seem to really know their way around the courthouse. You should make it a point to meet the lawyers who are on a first name basis with the clerk and bailiff.

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