Working as a freelancer is growing more and more popular with each passing year. It’s a lifestyle that may create a certain amount of financial instability, but it also allows you to work flexibly, to your own schedule, and have far more control over your life and career. Of all the professions in which to become a freelancer, the field of law is definitely one that can be flexible and lucrative. It is an appealing prospect; working in a highly-respected position with a degree of freedom and self-reliance. However, how can you pursue this path to its conclusion, and what the key steps you need to take to make yourself into a successful freelance attorney?
It may seem obvious, but if you haven’t already then your first step should be to become a qualified lawyer in the first place. Law school in the US is typically a 3 year degree while in the UK law can be an undergraduate degree. There can be some variability based on school and country in which you will practice. For example, if you have a bachelors degree, in some countries, you have the option of law conversion courses and there are lots of brilliant options available across the U.S, U.K or online in several countries. Many universities will even offer the possibility of part-time study so you can build your skills while still earning and pursuing a concurrent career.
Even if your dream is to work as a freelance lawyer, it will stand you in good stead to work for an established firm for a few years at the beginning of your career. Firms are great learning environments and will help you choose the niche where you want to focus your legal practice. This will also help build your reputation and help potential clients to trust you when you strike out on your own. You will also continue learning with each case that you work on while supported by the resources and other staff of a larger company. When you consider yourself an expert (and remember that takes about 10,000 hours), it will be the best time for you to forge your own path.
Build Your Reputation
A firm is a great place to start building your reputation. In addition to that, while traditional marketing may help to boost awareness of you locally, it can be well worth investigating what a PR campaign could do for your ability to attract clients. Public Relations is not just for big businesses, and good PR companies specific to law such as Elite Lawyer Management can help you grow your profile organically with fantastic effects. You can use the successes you have had while employed by a bigger firm to kickstart your own reputation, and then employ many other techniques to reach a wider audience. In law, reputation is everything, and you will want to make sure the word-of-mouth on your client relationships is second to none.
Make Sure You Have a Cushion
Becoming a freelance attorney is just the same as any other start-up business; it is a risk, and it may take a year or two for you to build up a regular income that exceeds necessary expenditures. In order to relax and focus on your work, it will be very important to make sure you have enough savings to give yourself financial security for a couple of years. This will enable you to direct far more attention towards building the company and making it a success rather than scraping to pay your bills each month.
Have questions about being a freelance lawyer? Just ask MEL! She has been practicing almost 20 years and has worked for big firms, in house at large and small businesses and been a freelancer. We would love to help!
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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