So, you’ve decided you’re ready to consider life beyond the law firm. That’s excellent! Becoming a freelance lawyer can be liberating as well as lucrative. Whether you’re pursuing freelance work to travel more, or just to have more autonomy in your work, this way of life can offer some amazing benefits – and a few challenges. We’ve put together this post to help you understand what to expect and how to succeed. Here are some key things to consider:
Tackling the challenges of remote work
When you work remotely – whether you’re based in your home office, or on a beach in Bali – you will soon find that it takes a different set of tools to manage projects and client interactions.
Staying on track with projects can look a little different when working remotely. You’ll likely want to engage some form of project management tool that helps you keep lists of active matters. Some lawyers of course still write things down on paper, but an electronic system that works across your devices can be helpful and more efficient. Especially if you are working and traveling at the same time! And if you aren’t using one already, a time-tracking app like Toggl is a must for logging your time efficiently.
Communication, of course, takes a little more work when you’re not in an office. There are lots of tools for staying in touch, such as Slack and Trello. There are also a variety of virtual meeting platforms, instant messaging and we can't forget email. Depending on how tech savvy the client is, you may join a platform they’re already using, or you may need to guide them in this area. If you’re working across time zones, every meeting and conversation will require the extra step of checking time differences.
Finding work and growing your client portfolio
There are multiple avenues to receive work as a freelance lawyer. When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to look into different options and whether they will meet your needs and salary requirements. Some of the best options for finding new work as a freelancer include consulting for law firms, working with umbrella firms, and joining platforms like Freelance.Legal.
The law firm consulting arms pay well, but likely not as much as if you worked completely for yourself. They typically pay an hourly rate similar to what you’d earn as an employee of the firm. However, since the freelancer assumes the risk, there’s no real upside over regular employment. The law firm umbrellas typically take 20% – 30% of revenue, which a steep cut into earnings for freelancers. Alternatively, the Freelance.Legal platform is significantly more lucrative for lawyers; our members earn a higher percentage of the revenue than with umbrella firms. (To learn more about the benefits of the platform for lawyers, please visit our FAQ page.)
Know what it takes to work for yourself
Being your own boss could easily be the biggest perk and the biggest challenge for freelancers, in any profession. Self-employment requires the ability to fill a variety of roles. Instead of just lawyering, you will also have to consider document management, invoicing, billing and scheduling. These are the hard skills you will need to develop as a freelance lawyer, but there are some important soft skills you’ll need, too. When working independently, you will need to make sure your time management and communication skills are up to snuff. When working with clients as a freelancer, it’s imperative that you are able to manage expectations, be clear about what needs to be done when and speak up if a client asks for something that qualifies as a change in the scope of work, or will require a change to the budget.
Freelance legal work is vastly different than the traditional model for our profession. This is an exciting time for lawyers who want more flexibility and a different way of life, whether you have kids and want to be able to work from home, or dream of traveling the world between projects.
We created Freelance.Legal to connect talented lawyers with high-quality opportunities that maximize flexibility without compromising on pay and security. To join our platform and be part of the freelance revolution, click here to apply today.