Should I Become a Contract Attorney?

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A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes
Question:


Should I become a contract attorney?




Answer:


Yes

There are several valid reasons why you might want to freelance. Perhaps your firm just went under and you want to take on project work to generate income while you're interviewing. Maybe you're a new grad whose firm decided to cut back on associate hiring. Maybe you're bored with retirement, or you want to get back in the game after raising a family. Whatever your situation, legal freelancing is increasingly popular. Is it for you? Consider:

 
  • Are you targeting the right employers? - Start your search with small to mid-sized law firms. Many now hire contract lawyers to help with what seems to be just a temporary increase in workload. When that spike begins to look more permanent, the contract lawyer becomes an experienced and tested candidate for the new position. Lawyers with some experience in civil litigation or transactional work may discover good opportunities with corporate legal departments. Small but rapidly expanding companies with only one in-house lawyer may need temporary assistance with product chronologies, due diligence, routine filings or discovery work that may evolve into a permanent position as the company grows.

 
  • Have you communicated your flexibility? - Whenever you make contact with a potential employer, make it clear that you are willing to prove your suitability for a permanent position by starting out with a period of contract employment. Never offer to take on a project without compensation though. That approach signals more desperation than talent.

  •  
  • Are you considering the right assignments? - When a hiring lawyer is dissatisfied with the work of a contract lawyer, there are no second chances. For that reason, accept only assignments within your competency and experience. Get clear instructions up front and repeat back what you've been told to confirm you heard it correctly. Be sure to ask for work samples so you can meet the hiring lawyer's expectations of style and format. Then check in regularly as you progress to be certain you're still on track and offer the very best product you can on a timely basis.

  • No

    If you're working full-time now and decide freelancing would simplify your life, consider the downside. If and when you decide to return to a traditional career path, you will be questioned about your commitment to returning to the strenuous lifestyle of a full-time law practice. And this assumes you've got a strong resume and you haven't been out of the permanent job market too long.


    Summary: Whatever your situation, legal freelancing is increasingly popular. Is it for you? Consider the following before deciding what you want to do.


    See the following articles for more information:






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    Legal Freelancer      Legal Freelancing      Contract Attorney      Legal Career Q & A     

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