Careers

Chart Your Own Career Through Unchartered Territory

By Kristin Tyler
August 25, 2020

There’s no doubt the legal industry is experiencing a profound revolution thanks to “Ms. Rona.”  Lawyers are adapting new technologies at rapid speed.  Many lawyers are re-evaluating business models and assessing the need for a traditional office space.  Courts and lawyers alike are figuring out ways to litigate by video conference.    

Unfortunately, many attorneys are suddenly finding themselves unemployed or under-employed.  For those lawyers who have long day-dreamed about launching their own freelance career this is the time to take a leap and make those dreams become reality.  A silver lining perhaps? 

The good news is for lawyers now launching into the freelance world it is much easier to find work and build your credentials thanks to companies like LAWCLERK.  If you’ve been tempted to drop the “traditional” career path and blaze your own way there is no time like the present to go for it!  

For anyone exploring the freelance terrain, here are my top five tips to boost your own freelance career. 

1. Stay in Your Lane.  One of the reasons a lot of freelancers tell me they love doing freelance work is that they get exposure to many different types of work in different areas of law.  This helps keep the workload fresh and is a big reason why charting a freelance career can be appealing.  My only word of caution here is not to veer too far outside your area of experience and expertise.  For example, if you worked in a firm doing immigration work for many years before becoming a freelancer then you will be able to produce your best possible work related to immigration issues rather than switching to IP law or dabbling in real estate.  Only accept freelance work for which you have the knowledge and confidence to do the best job possible.

2. Know Your Boundaries.  At the onset of a freelance project, get crystal clear on the scope of work the attorney needs you to complete to determine if you must be licensed in that state.  Is the attorney asking you to do something like take a deposition or talk to clients?  Those matters require you to engage in the practice of law, and to handle those types of gigs you need to be licensed - and in good standing – in that jurisdiction.  However, if the attorney needs help with things like research or drafting a document then these are things you’re able to do under that hiring attorney’s supervision, which opens the doors for you to accept freelance work from attorneys outside of the jurisdiction(s) where you are licensed.  Be mindful of whether the work you are being asked to perform requires you to be licensed in that state and proceed accordingly.

3. Don’t Read Minds.  When it comes to gig work, a skilled freelance attorney has the potential to work with several different hiring attorneys during any given day.  Every attorney has a different communication style and work preferences.  Don’t assume that because attorney A wants you to write in a very conversational style that this same tone of writing will work for attorney B who prefers a more formal tone.  If you want to excel with a freelance career don’t make the mistake of making assumptions about what an attorney does or doesn’t want.  Straight up ask the attorney about their preferences so that you can deliver the best possible work product.

4. Beat the Clock.  This tip really should go without saying but be certain to complete work on time and early if possible. If you’re not clear on what the deadline is – ask.  If you aren’t clear if the “deadline” is for rough draft or a final document – ask.  If you think it’s an initial draft deadline but it’s really the final deadline that will change the timeframe for your work process. If you come across any problems along the way, let the attorney know.  This means if you get sick or have a family emergency you need to get in touch with the hiring attorney right away to see if the deadline can be extended or if the work should be reassigned.  Don’t wait until the last minute – deliver early to achieve success.  

5. Best Foot Forward.  You never know when a single freelance gig can turn into recurring work from a repeat client - something that can help solidify a long-term freelance career.  Therefore, it’s vital to always submit your best possible work product.  In that same vein, you can make a big impression on the hiring attorney by always being polite, professional and prompt. This is equally important if the hiring attorney turns out to be well, a jerk.  Even if you don’t enjoy working with a particular attorney - and never want to work with them again - complete the project in a professional manner.  Don’t forget that the hiring attorney may love working with you and refer you work from other attorneys in the future.  

At LAWCLERK, we are always welcoming new freelance lawyers.  There is no sign-up fee and no monthly fee to be a part of our nationwide network of powerhouse freelance lawyers.  So, what are you waiting for?  If you are looking for some extra work or regular gigs, we can help you connect with busy attorneys looking for your exact experience and expertise.  Join today!

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