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Inter Alia Lawyers is Changing the Way Small Firms Find Help For Overflow Work

"Our attorneys are freelancers by choice-they are not the typical contract attorney who is out of work and looking for a way to make ends meet,” says Kira Rubel, attorney and co-founder of Inter Alia Lawyers. “We are defining what it means to be a freelance attorney, as this is a relatively new concept in the legal community.”
Rubel’s partner and co-founder Alanna Whittington continues, “We are on the cutting edge of a new niche in the practice of law, utilizing freelance attorneys as valued members of the legal community. While it is common to hear the term ‘freelance’ used in other professions, until recently most have never heard of the concept of a freelance attorney. We’ve created a new way to practice law that not only provides for a meaningful, fulfilling career, but allows space for other passions and endeavors.”

Of course, were it not for the fact that their business fills a real need in the legal community, the founders of Inter Alia Lawyers would have nothing more than a cool concept instead of a growing business. Indeed, Rubel and Whittington, who met in 2004 while attending University of San Diego School of Law, first alighted upon the idea of forming a freelance attorney company in 2012.  “We are friends from law school and share very similar work ethics and values. We truly enjoy working together. We also share the same passion for achieving a work-life balance. We are attorneys inter alia, which every attorney knows is a Latin phrase to mean ‘among other things.’ That’s why we chose it as the name of our company. We started this business so that we could assist our colleagues in achieving a better work-life balance as well,” says Whittington.
Continuing, Rubel says, “We were both practicing attorneys and we saw a clear gap in the legal community in San Diego-there was no place where smaller firms could find immediate assistance from a reliable and experienced freelance attorney, at least not without having to sort through 500 resumes from Craigslist.”
Rubel speaks from firsthand experience as the owner of a small firm. “For years I dealt with a constant ebb and flow of work.
Small firms and solo attorneys can manage similar work volume changes by using a freelance attorney, and can avoid having to hire a full-time associate.” As a result, Inter Alia Lawyers was founded in 2013 as a “one-stop shop” where attorneys from all areas of practice can come to find immediate assistance.

Rubel and Whittington are steadfast and discerning in building a core group of freelance attorneys who can provide consistent, top-notch work product every time. “When an attorney or firm uses an Inter Alia freelance attorney, they do not have to spend valuable time searching for the right person with the proper qualification. We already have the right person for you,” Whittington explains. “We are truly your associate when you need one,” she adds.
In particular, Whittington and Rubel look for freelancers who excel in legal research and writing. Inter Alia freelance attorneys come from diverse backgrounds and a wide range of practice areas. However, all freelancers share one common trait. “Every piece of work product that goes out the door is of the level of quality our clients expect. We manage the project from start to finish. After the project is completed by our freelancer, we often edit it an additional time to ensure consistent quality on every single project. We are meticulous about quality control,” Whittington adds.
This focus on quality is absolutely imperative to Rubel and Whittington, mandating that Inter Alia Lawyers has a clear understanding of their clients’ needs. To Rubel and Whittington, their relationships with their clients begin with building trust. “We believe in having personal meetings with potential clients to tell them about Inter Alia Lawyers and the services we can provide, rather than blasting emails or inundating a busy attorney with social media updates. The reason for this is simple-attorneys often have a hard time relinquishing control over their cases, so there is an initial hurdle to overcome before they can trust that they will be in good hands when they use our freelance attorneys,” Rubel says.
To that end, “We believe in forming personal connections with each of our clients,” Whittington says. “We want to know our clients’ particular needs, and not only provide them with a valuable service, but also become a friend as well. We go out of our way to make sure our clients are not only satisfied, but thrilled with the entire experience of working with Inter Alia Lawyers.”
Moreover, Rubel and Whittington hope to enable fellow attorneys the opportunity to become more economically efficient. For attorneys who want to free up their time to take additional cases, that time is made available by utilizing an Inter Alia freelancer. Likewise, attorneys can bill their clients at a profit for time spent on their case by an Inter Alia freelance attorney, or alternatively, can pass on savings to their clients by offering the freelance rate charged by Inter Alia Lawyers. “Greater efficiency and lower rates for their clients are objectives for nearly all solo practitioners and small firms,” says Rubel.

For Rubel and Whittington, the balance they have been able to achieve through careers as freelance attorneys is something they want every attorney to have the opportunity to experience, should they desire it. “Part of the reason we started our company was so that we could assist other attorneys in achieving a better work-life balance. Our goal is to make our clients’ lives easier on a daily basis. We are frequently thanked because we have enabled our client to take on a new case, or assisted him in keeping a date with his family to go camping for the weekend,” Whittington says. “Our mission is to provide reliable and high quality freelance attorney services to our fellow legal professionals, while promoting our goal of combining a quality law practice with a quality life,” she adds.

This mission extends both to their attorney clients and to attorneys looking to become freelancers with Inter Alia Lawyers. “We want to build meaningful and lasting relationships with freelance attorneys throughout the country, training them to perform their work utilizing our core values of combining a quality law practice with a quality life,” Whittington says.
Rubel continues, “We provide a space where attorneys can have a meaningful law practice on their own terms, without necessarily having to dedicate their entire lives to a firm. Many of our freelance attorneys are mothers, solo practitioners, yoga instructors and small business owners. We strongly believe that we can be attorneys while simultaneously making time for many other endeavors- both personal and professional.”
To date, in addition to the San Diego based office of Inter Alia Lawyers, a second branch has opened in Seattle, Washington and is helmed by Kelly Meilstrup, who is licensed to practice law in California, New York, Colorado and Washington. But Rubel and Whittington have plans for offices nationwide. “We want to open offices in every major city. We want the name Inter Alia Lawyers to be synonymous with five-star freelance attorneys, coast to coast. Ultimately we see ourselves hosting training sessions, writing seminars and holding retreats to aid our fellow freelance attorneys in their practices,” says Rubel.
And make no mistake, the founders intend to emphasize balance as Inter Alia Lawyers grows. “We are both avid skiers and serious outdoor enthusiasts, and hope all of our trainings and retreats will include activities like yoga, water sports, and snow skiing, in addition to legal writing, ethics and small business management seminars,” Whittington says.

Inter Alia Lawyers
555 W. Beech Street
San Diego, California 92101

Karen Gorden

Karen Gorden is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal.

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Filed Under: Business ManagementFeatured Stories

About the Author: Karen Gorden is a Staff Writer for Attorney Journal.

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