Credit: Woody Hibbard
Is being a freelance lawyer the new trend? It’s hard to say, but it’s surely on the rise as more and more people who are entering into the lawyer workforce want to ditch the old ways of doing things. There are many types of lawyers out there who run freelance, there are a number of per who have recently begun freelance practices as well.
In today’s fast-paced world, hundreds of professions have delved into the freelance world such as writing, marketing, and even photographers, but being a freelance lawyer still sounds a little odd to the ears.
So what exactly are the benefits of becoming a freelance lawyer anyway?
There’s no secret that freelancing provides you flexibility in schedule that few other jobs can provide. You are in charge of what clients you take on, the days you work, and for the most part, your self-imposed deadlines. The flexibility of the lifestyle is what often attracts people to freelancing in the first place. If you want to take a longer lunch hour or work a reduced workweek compared to the traditional 40+ hours a week, you’re able to.
Your Own Boss:
The second big attracter to the freelance lifestyle is that you will be your own boss. This has its downsides too, however. When you’re your own boss, you need to keep yourself on track with self-imposed deadlines, which can be difficult for some person. The obvious benefits are that you will not have the stress of someone looking over your shoulder because you’re fully in command of the lifestyle that you lead.
More Monetary Gains:
Freelancing can have some awesome monetary gains for you depending on your rates and the type of clients you have. These rates can take a bit of time to set up though, so be patient and grow them over time. While your freelancing, there is no one who is taking a cut of your fees and no one setting a price ceiling for your services, meaning you can charge a lot more than you would otherwise be able to. The downside of this, however, is that you have to pay more in personal taxes. Employers must pay half of your federal taxes while you work with them, but when you’re working freelance, you must pay the full percentage yourself. As long as you have enough work though, this won’t make much of a difference.
Work Across Jurisdictions:
As a freelance lawyer, you’re not tied to just one firm, meaning you can work across a number of jurisdictions. This will allow you to gain more clients and an advantage while working from home. It ties into the flexibility and the lifestyle idea as well. This is a major plus.
So how do you become a freelance lawyer is the next big question? Here are some tips and tricks on how to set up your own practice and work the flexible lifestyle of the freelancer.
List The Pros & Cons:
Before you set out to become a freelance lawyer, make sure this is the right thing for you to personally do. You need to have confidence that you can succeed at this before you take the plunge, or at least a safety net in case things don’t go as well as you hope. Create a list of all the benefits of being a freelance lawyer and a list of all of the cons that come with the job as well. Is it still worth it after you’ve listed everything else out? Take some time before quitting your current job as a lawyer to truly plan out everything and prepare for different scenarios so that going freelance make you miss a beat in life.
Also, before you do this full-time, speak to existing lawyers on how they do it. Learn from their mistakes as well as their successes to understand what its like on the other side before you take the plunge. It’s always useful to have a little support group before doing something like this!
Set Up Your Office:
The first step is to create an environment that you’re able to work in destruction free. One of the difficulties for many freelancers is not having the workspace that allows you to focus like an employer is able to provide. Solve this issue by setting up a home office in a room that is only for your work. Make the office as much like a workspace as possible, complete with a desk, coffee machine if needed, a filing system, printer, and whatever else you’d like. It’s important to keep this as distraction-free as possible. This room is key to your success.
Before you start to take on clients, you’re going to want malpractice insurance to protect you in case something goes south. Getting this insurance may take some time though, so be patient and do your research. Since being a freelance lawyer is still something relatively new, the insurance coverage and who provides that coverage varies. You’ll definitely be able to get it, just be patient during this process.
Create Your Financial Plan
You’re going to need to set up a financial plan for your start-up costs and future business operations. While you are an individual freelancer, it’s important to think of yourself as a business. What does your business need to run each month? Create a list of expenses for each month, your current start-up costs, and how much you need to make to pay the bills. Budget everything you’ll do well to stay on track.
Create Your Marketing Plan
Now it’s time to get your clients. Reading some marketing books is a good idea to help you in this stage if you don’t have much marketing practice yet. Marketing is important to build your client base, so set aside some of your “start-up” funds to build a strong marketing campaign. There are a number of different marketing tactics you can put in your plan, such as social media marketing, a flyer campaign, and much much more.
Keep In The Now
When you’re working on your own, it’s easy to get a bit out-dated because you’re not around industry professionals for eight or twelve hours each day. You can stay in the now by reading industry blogs on the type of law you practice, staying up to date with the latest books, and of course, the best thing you can do, attend conferences. Attending conferences will be amazing to network with people, see the latest presentations in your law practices, and so much more. Aim to attend at least one conference a year, with an ultimate goal of two or three.
More and more people in law practices are switching to become freelance lawyers because of the lifestyle that it provides for them. It’s a wonderful thing for people to be their own boss and there are plenty of benefits with doing this. Use this article as a guide for setting up your freelance law practices. While it may not be easy, just know that if this is close to your heart, it will all be worth it.