Lessons from #LawJobChat: @LisaSolomon on Freelancing as an Attorney

On July 29, 2010, we hosted our second #LawJobChat.  Our host, Lisa Solomon, has thrived as a freelance legal research and writing attorney and coaches/consults with others to do the same.  She shares some of her experience and tips about freelancing as an attorney.  The chat was such a success, Lisa has agreed to host another #LawJobChat follow-up session soon!


Attorneys & Freelancing


Amanda Ellis (@aellislegal) & Melissa Sachs (@mjsq)

Guest Co-Host

1.  Lisa Solomon (@lisasolomon) -Legal research & writing attorney; Coach/Consultant for other legal research and writing attorneys; Entrepreneur, specializing in fun gifts for legal professionals.

Transcript (copied & pasted from What the hashtag?!)

All times are Pacific Time

1:01 am
aellislegal: Welcome to the 2nd #LawJobChat! Tonight we are discussing freelance lawyering with @lisasolomon#lawjobchat
1:01 am aellislegal: @lisasolomon if you are here, tell us about your background and current practice #lawjobchat
1:02 am lisasolomon: Hi, @aellislegal @mjsq. Thanks for inviting me to co-host tonight #LawJobChat
1:03 am lisasolomon: After law school, I worked for 2 yrs in a small NYC litigation firm, then 1 yr as a trainer 4 Lexis in local law schools. #lawjobchat
1:04 am lisasolomon: Now, I wear 3 hats. 1st, I practice as a freelance lawyer, assisting other attys w/lgl research & writing (LRW) projects. #lawjobchat
1:05 am lisasolomon: 3rd, I am a partner in www.TheBillableHour.com, which sells humorous gifts & greeting cards 4 lawyers & lgl prof?ls #lawjobchat
1:06 am aellislegal: When you answer a Q or ask a Q, try to ref the Q# (i.e., Q1) #lawjobchat
1:07 am aellislegal: Q1 how did you transition into the freelance research/writing? how did you know that was what you wanted do? #lawjobchat
1:08 am lisasolomon: Q1 My husb & I are both attys. We wanted kids & knew 1 of us shd B solo. LRW work is flex. re: time & location #lawjobchat
1:09 am lisasolomon: Q1 Plus, I <3 LRW #lawjobchat
1:10 am aellislegal: Q2 how is your work as a freelance atty diff from work of contract attys through staffing agencies? #lawjobchat
1:10 am lisasolomon: Q2 As a freelancer, I?m a biz owner. I set my hours & decide what I want 2 do (i.e., substantive LRW). K attys =/= much control #lawjobchat
1:11 am mjsq: As a follow-up to Q1, what does a typical day look like for you? re: flex schedule, time & location. #LawJobChat
1:11 am t10nbaum: Q3, when you work freelance, do you work out of your home? Do you operate out of an office? #lawjobchat
1:13 am aellislegal: I’ll let you answer @mjsq and @t10nbaum before I ask other questions #lawjobchat
1:13 am hdifranco: #lawjobchat Do hiring attys want lots of legal exp for freelancers? I practiced 1 yr., then 5 yrs. w/Westlaw. I worry no one would hire me.
1:14 am lisasolomon: Q1 & Q3 I may be working 9-5 some days; others are variable. I have a home office & also work elsewhere on my laptop #lawjobchat
1:14 am hdifranco: #lawjobchat I <3 LRW, too! Took every class my law school offered. Friends thought I was crazy.
1:15 am aellislegal: Q4 RT @hdifranco Do hiring attys want lots of legal exp for freelancers? #lawjobchat
1:16 am lisasolomon: Q$ If U don’t have lots of practice exp., focus on other qualifications (e.g., school performance/credentials, enthusiasm, etc. )#lawjobchat
1:17 am lisasolomon: Q4 As w/other practice areas, hiring attys will look for a mix of qualifications. Some will be willing to go w/less experience #lawjobchat
1:17 am lisasolomon: Q4 in exchange for lower rate #lawjobchat
1:17 am aellislegal: more on Q4 – so, could a recent grad work as a freelance lawyer? I would think they would have advantage since fresh LRW skills #lawjobchat
1:18 am aellislegal: More on Q4 have you seen recent grads go to work as freelance lawyers? #lawjobchat
1:19 am lisasolomon: As an experienced atty, I question fresh LRW skills. New grads need to understand reqs of legal briefs are diff than law rev #lawjobchat
1:19 am t10nbaum: #lawjobchat, to follow up to @aellislegal, can law students do this, focusing more on research and draft writing to be corrected l8r by atty
1:20 am hdifranco: #lawjobchat Thank you! What’s the best way to get started? Was thinking of direct outreach to some area solos and smaller firms.
1:20 am lisasolomon: .@Barrister1988 Less experience=lower rates/salary in any biz or type of law practice. Every1 has to start somewhere #lawjobchat
1:21 am aellislegal: Q4 good pt re fresh LRW skills #lawjobchat
1:21 am lisasolomon: .@t10nbaum Sure; there’s even a website called www.lawclerkconnection.com #lawjobchat
1:21 am aellislegal: Q5 RT @hdifranco What’s the best way to get started? Was thinking of direct outreach to some area solos and smaller firms #lawjobchat
1:22 am lisasolomon: .@hdifranco U R on right track. All my clients R small firms & solos. Larger firms have their own wage slaves, uh, associates #lawjobchat
1:24 am t10nbaum: #lawjobchat And by slaves, @lisasolomon, you mean law students like my self. We love working hard for even a chance at future employment
1:25 am aellislegal: Q6 Where should people who want to freelance put their marketing efforts – approach solos directly? #lawjobchat
1:25 am squirrelpants: How do other freelancers set their hourly rates? #lawjobchat
1:26 am aellislegal: Q6 more on marketing – approach solos/small firms through LI so attys can see your background/exp? #lawjobchat
1:26 am lisasolomon: .@t10nbaum Well, yes; also, in the olden days (i.e., until 2008) firms used to hire & pay associates & work them very hard #lawjobchat
1:26 am aellislegal: Q7 RT @squirrelpants How do other freelancers set their hourly rates? #lawjobchat
1:27 am lisasolomon: Q6 Go where the clients are. Join the litigation section of the bar ass?ns to which you belong. Definitely approach solos direct #lawjobchat
1:28 am t10nbaum: #lawjobchat, @lisasolomon. Shame i missed those days. I’m only going into my second year
1:28 am aellislegal: Q7 more on comp: charge by case or by hour or some other variation? #lawjobchat
1:29 am lisasolomon: Q7 Many factors go into setting rates, incl. ur yrs of experience, any special skills U have & going rate in locality #lawjobchat
1:30 am lisasolomon: Q6 I would do in-person networking rather than approach via LI (latter approach is like cold-calling, not likely 2 work) #lawjobchat
1:30 am t10nbaum: Q8, r there groups of freelance attorneys around in localities? I.e bar ass’n committees for freelancers? Or do u go it alone? #lawjobchat
1:31 am lisasolomon: Q7 U can use various types of fee structures, incl. hourly & flat fee #lawjobchat
1:33 am lisasolomon: Q8 Also, my blog (www.LegalResearchandWritingPro.com). Haven’t heard of local bar ass’n committees for freelancers #lawjobchat
1:33 am aellislegal: Following up to @t10nbaum Q9- what resources, organizations are avail for freelance attys? #lawjobchat
1:34 am lisasolomon: .@Barrister1988 Sorry, I can’t speak to salaries in teaching or journalism #lawjobchat
1:35 am LaLicenciada: Mayb research bt not likely perdiem work. RT @aellislegal: more on Q4 – so, could a recent grad work as a freelance lawyer? #lawjobchat
1:35 am aellislegal: Q10 Tell us more re Legal Research and Writing Pro – I noticed there are different memberships #lawjobchat
1:36 am lisasolomon: Q10 All memberships incl. my e-book (K Lawyering Success), Freelance Freedom teleseminar recording & sample services agmt. #lawjobchat
1:37 am lisasolomon: Q10 Gold includes 3 add’l recorded progs of ur choice. Platinum includes 6 prog recordings & 1 hr private coaching #lawjobchat
1:37 am lisasolomon: Q10 Platinum+ incl. everything in Platinum, plus opportunity to be LRWP certified & get on my referral list #lawjobchat
1:39 am lisasolomon: .@lalicenciada If you have some in-ct. experience, you may get per diem work even if a recent grad. Depends on your skills #lawjobchat
1:39 am aellislegal: Q11 Are there any ethical restrictions on working as freelance lawyer or can u do this in any state? #lawjobchat
1:41 am mjsq: @lisasolomon re: Q10 What does it mean to be LRWP certified? #LawJobChat
1:41 am lisasolomon: Q11 All States allow freelance lawyering. #lawjobchat
1:42 am lisasolomon: Q11 ABA Formal Op 08-451, which I analyze at http://tinyurl.com/6lcfl3, is the main ethics op re: freelance lawyering #lawjobchat
1:42 am LaLicenciada: @lisasolomon I agree. But @ least in Kings County, for per diem there’s a monopoly on it. its 1. who you know 2. Experience. #lawjobchat
1:43 am lisasolomon: Q10 LRWP certified=meeting my standards for writing skill & research & writing efficiency #lawjobchat
1:44 am aellislegal: Q12 What type technology do you use in your practice? #lawjobchat
1:45 am lisasolomon: .@LaLicenciada Success in many fields is based in large part on contacts & experience. Networking is key #lawjobchat
1:45 am aellislegal: More on Q12 – for ex, you blog – is that a skill a freelance lawyer should have? easy to learn? #lawjobchat
1:46 am lisasolomon: Q12 Full list of tech I use is in my Web Worker Daily profile at http://twurl.nl/xn8t1f #lawjobchat
1:47 am aellislegal: Excellent! RT @lisasolomon Q12 Full list of tech I use is in my Web Worker Daily profile athttp://twurl.nl/xn8t1f #lawjobchat
1:47 am lisasolomon: Q12 Freelance lawyer who wants to do LRW should definitely know how to write for various audiences (incl. blogging) #lawjobchat
1:48 am lisasolomon: Q12 I have my own blog & also have ghost-written blog posts & articles (though most of my writing is briefs) #lawjobchat
1:48 am medialawcounsel: @aellislegal: Q 12–your book of course. And so should everyone else. #lawjobchat #amandaellisrules
1:48 am aellislegal: Q13 Do freelance lawyers need their own malpractice insurance? #lawjobchat
1:52 am aellislegal: Q14 have you seen an increase in the use of freelance attys in the past year? #lawjobchat
1:53 am aellislegal: @medialawcounsel Hi, Evan! #lawjobchat
1:54 am lisasolomon: Q14 In past few years, entire profession is exploring ways to lower costs while still providing excellent service. #lawjobchat
1:54 am aellislegal: Q15 Do freelance lawyers need to form a business entity for their freelance practice? #lawjobchat
1:54 am lisasolomon: Q14 Freelance attys serve that role. #lawjobchat
1:56 am lisasolomon: Q15 Same considerations apply as w/any other type of law practice. Must weigh pros/cons (esp. re: taxes) of diff biz structures #lawjobchat
1:56 am aellislegal: RT @lisasolomon Q13 strongly recommend own malpract ins. Details re: why, download guide to K lawyering http://twurl.nl/h5ulxs #lawjobchat
1:58 am mjsq: @lisasolomon, what about Lexis/WestLaw? Do you pay for access out-of-pocket, does law firm, does it depend? #LawJobChat
1:59 am aellislegal: FINAL Q Any parting words, advice for lawyers considering the freelance path? #lawjobchat
2:00 am lisasolomon: Re: Lexis/Westlaw Does a surgeon ask to borrow scalpels? If UR serious re: being freelance lawyer, have ur own subscription #LawJobChat
2:02 am mjsq: @lisasolomon good point. (*blush*) #LawJobChat
2:02 am lisasolomon: I think there is amazing pent-up demand for high-quality outsourced services, esp. LRW. #lawjobchat
2:02 am t10nbaum: @lisasolomon thnx for all the info 2night #lawjobchat
2:04 am lisasolomon: As a freelance lawyer, I have it all: challenging career, flexibility & a comfortable living. U can, too. It’s a growing field #lawjobchat
2:04 am aellislegal: @lisasolomon THANK YOU, Lisa, for sharing your insights into freelance lawyering -thank you to all who participated, gr8 chat! #lawjobchat
2:05 am lisasolomon: .@aellislegal @mjsq Thanks for having me – it’s been fun! #LawJobChat
2:06 am aellislegal: Next #LawJobChat 8/26, 9pm EDT- let us know what you want to discuss – resumes, law firm economics, particular pract area, etc #lawjobchat
2:06 am mjsq: thanks, @lisasolomon. you shared great resources! http://bit.ly/XmtZ (ABA ethics rule),http://bit.ly/aay25k (profile), & sites! #LawJobChat
2:06 am aellislegal: I’ll post transcript from tonight’s chat at some point tomorrow on @LawJobChat #lawjobchat
2:09 am aellislegal: @Jon_Lewis #LawJobChat is the last Thursday of each month at 9pm EDT – join us next month!
2:10 am lisasolomon: Talk about work/life balance: the moment I finished #lawjobchat, my daughter came in room w/ (small) cut, dripping blood
2:10 am aellislegal: @Jon_Lewis and, you can follow #LawJobChat at @LawJobChat
2:11 am aellislegal: Did u follow #LawJobChat? @lisasolomon shared tips RT @bridgetzig @aellislegal I could really use freelance work asap. Any tips?
2:12 am aellislegal: cont. can search #LawJobChat in Twitter search bar RT @bridgetzig @aellislegal I could really use freelance work asap. Any tips?
2:30 am aellislegal: Transcript from tonight’s #LawJobChat http://bit.ly/9G4Fri
2:31 am LawJobChat: Transcript from tonight’s #LawJobChat http://bit.ly/9G4Fri
2:34 am richard_russeth: RT @lisasolomon: Lexis/Westlaw Does a surgeon borrow scalpels? Serious re being freelance lawyer? Have ur own subscription #LawJobChat
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