Frequently Asked Questions
agile, efficient, and creative legal research and writing support for Alberta's lawyers
About Research and Writing Lawyers, and About Our Services
What do research and writing lawyers do? Research and writing lawyers focus on keeping abreast of changes and developments in the law, and on digesting and synthesizing what they find into authoritative, persuasive opinions and arguments. A research and writing lawyer is a resource for other lawyers, who use our work to guide their own advice, strategy, and tactics. We help lawyers help their clients by providing high-level research and writing at a fraction of the cost of a traditional law firm doing the same research and writing work in-house.
How does Orion Legal Research save my clients and I money? How does Orion Legal Research help lawyers provide better service? Orion Legal Research's work adds capacity to your office without you having to sink resources into hiring new full-time or part-time staff, obtaining office space, or obtaining research materials and subscriptions. Our business model is similar in principle to outsourcing, since we perform your research and writing work for a lower cost than you or your staff would do in-house. It is not only your client that benefits from the lower cost. The time that you and your staff would spend on that client is freed up to serve other clients, still billing at your typical rates.
The capacity Orion Legal Research adds is also valuable purely in terms of putting more labour time at your disposal. Demanding legal work, such as trials, often stretch lawyers and law firms to their limits. Retaining Orion Legal Research during these times adds another member to your team on a flexible, short-term basis, letting you focus on other aspects of your work (or simply on getting a good night's rest!).
What areas of law does Orion Legal Research practice in and research? What can Orion Legal Research write? Orion Legal Research takes on research and writing projects of any description, and we are eager to try new things. We are familiar with, and maintain a precedent library of, common civil litigation documents, but we are happy to adapt our style to yours. If you like, we can emulate your firm's own documents and ghostwrite for you as seamlessly as possible. We can also work collaboratively with you during large-scale research and writing projects, such as written submissions for trials and other hearings.
On what basis is Orion Legal Research hired on? How do I retain you? Orion Legal Research works on an independent contract basis, project by project. We do not come with the financial liabilities or other expectations that come with employees, students-at-law and junior lawyers. To retain us, simply give us a call and we can discuss your needs and provide a quote for our services.
How do I give you instructions? We do not often meet our clients in person and perform the bulk of our work remotely. We are happy to receive inquiries and instructions by phone or email, and we are even happier to travel to you to meet with you in your own offices.
How do you deliver your research products? Typically we deliver in a digital format, either .docx or .pdf, in the interests of speed, cost, and editability. More rarely, we deliver hard-copy research products. If you wish, we can assist in document preparation at a reduced hourly rate.
I'm not a lawyer, but I need one. Can Orion Legal Research help me? Orion Legal Research is oriented towards assisting lawyers, firms, and organizations, rather than the public directly. We do not take on litigation matters or provide other personal services, and cannot provide you with legal advice. If you are looking for a lawyer to assist you, we recommend you seek out the website of your province's Law Society. These can usually direct you to a lawyer referral service. Should you retain a lawyer, we are happy to discuss with your lawyer how we might keep your costs low by assisting them with their research and writing for you.
I'm a law student. Can you help me with a paper or project? Orion Legal Research is unable to assist with academic matters.
About Time and Cost
What do you charge? Our business model cuts the costs of a traditional law practice so that we can research with maximum efficiency. We typically charge on an hourly basis, but our hourly rate is much lower than a lawyer of comparable experience working in a full-service law firm. Our base research and writing rate is $125.00 per hour. We also charge a lower hourly rate for aspects of our work which are not "lawyerly", such as travel and document production. For certain Legal Aid files, we may lower our rates to Legal Aid rates. We are also happy to discuss and negotiate flat fees for routine research and writing projects.
How do you estimate total costs? We base our estimates on past similar work, and usually budget slightly higher than expected to avoid unexpected cost overruns. A good bellwether for typical research is a research memorandum. Presently, our aim is to complete the research, writing, and editing of a research memorandum with no more than 5 hours of work time.
How long does research take? How much advance notice do you need? Our research practices discourage rushing work where it is not necessary to do so, but we understand that practicing law is dynamic, with issues arising suddenly and demanding immediate answers. We consider 5 business days a comfortable time frame for most research projects, but are able to work on a rush basis. For larger research and writing projects, such as a trial brief or factum, we encourage contacting us well in advance so that we can set aside time to work for you.
Do you value bill for urgent work? We do not shy away from urgent work and avoid the practice of value-billing for our time, even where time is of the essence. We are happy to contract to be "on call" for same-day research during trials and other events.
About Confidentiality, Conflicts and Professional Responsibility
Are you insured? Yes. Orion Legal Research's lawyers are active, practicing members of their law societies and maintain insurance coverage as required by their regulators. We do so in order to provide advice as part of our research, to enable us to work collaboratively with our clients, and to not restrict ourselves to simply reporting the law.
Do you provide legal advice? Some research lawyers hold themselves out as providing only information, and will typically restrict themselves to researching and reporting the law. Orion Legal Research believes that separating information and advice does not provide the best value to our clients, and so we reject this approach in favour of a more in-depth role. Our approach often includes legal advice from a research perspective. When we work collaboratively with our clients our work necessarily takes on an advisory aspect.
Are you co-counsel? We do not work directly for your clients like a member of your firm would, or like co-counsel, but we are happy to discuss our work with you and your client together. Exceptions may exist in special circumstances, but typically we help you help your client and do not form lawyer-client relationships directly with them. We do not take over your role as counsel when it comes to interviewing, advising, and strategizing with your client.
How do you handle confidentiality? The lawyers we work for are our clients. We owe them, and they can expect, the same confidentiality that they owe their clients. Our support staff are bound by confidentiality agreements respecting their work for us, and we follow Law Society guidelines for collecting, managing, storing and destroying information.
How do you handle conflicts of interest? We collect and digitize information not only on the lawyers we work for, but on their matters as well. All this information informs our practices for avoiding conflicts of interest. We never work where there is a conflict between our clients, or our clients' clients.
What information do you need? We avoid research and writing work without knowing who it is for, and require information sufficient for a thorough conflict check at the minimum. Typically we will want to see documents filed in your case to confirm you have the authority to act for your client, and also to help us understand the issues at stake.
To discharge our professional obligations, we may sometimes need to collect client ID information from both you, and from your own clients, according to the rules of the Law Society. Often, however, our work falls under the an exception for lawyers acting as agents for other lawyers, allowing us to forego client ID rules in most circumstances.