Today’s point is just another one that’s been sculpting in my partially-caffeinated, semi-weary paralegal spirit for a quite a bit of time. So today, I am gonna share my sincere reflections on the topic.
Let us jump directly to the core questions
Can you, the newbie paralegal, become a freelancer?
As in – is it possible in theory?
Is it possible to put this theory to the test?
Is it likely you will succeed as a newbie freelancer?
(Not without at least 5+ years of vast paralegal practice.)
Newbies, I’d love to start by telling you that I am one of the greatest cheerleaders — I actually am. However, some topics need brutal honesty. To supply you with less than my candid thoughts could do a significant disservice to the two, you and the market, in large.
Maybe you’re enrolled in a paralegal program at the moment. You might be a recent grad. You might be in the first stages of considering your future profession in the legal biz. You might even be prepared to hit the”move” button with this entire newbie-as-a-freelancer part but read this article first.
I want to ask you a few really important questions that will assist you to glean a small insight into why freelance is the worst idea ever for a beginner.
If you didn’t reply in the affirmative to each of three of those questions, beginning your paralegal company is most likely NOT going to work out.
I’ve got 6 questions for you:
ONE: Are there several lawyers who LIKE you? (In a professional space)
TWO: Are there several attorneys who RESPECT you?
THREE: Are there several attorneys who TRUST you?
FOUR: Are there several attorneys who LIKE your work product?
FIVE: Are there several attorneys who RESPECT your work product?
SIX: Are there several attorneys who TRUST your work product?
In my view, you need to answer positively at least to the half of those vital questions until you start all this no-one-but-me-is-my-boss-story. Here’s the reason why. Lawyers who don’t enjoy, respect, and trust you, will NOT be interested in hiring some unknown, untested newbie with no prestigious reputation. Not to the moment you prove several (or dozen of them) your work product is worthy of attention. So you gonna need previous paralegal expertise, impressive work history, or leading recommendations from respectable lawyers (the lawyers that you wish to employ you like, trust and respect ).
And to get some paralegal experience you need at least 5+ years or something around 10,400 hours. Honestly, it requires two decades simply to get a modicum of a hint of what in the hell you are performing as a paralegal. You need about two years for learning how to actually do the work well. I had about five years of strong paralegal expertise before I even “murmured” the term freelancer to myself.
In case you replied all 6 of these questions in the affirmative and did not run scared, here are some additional things to consider if You’re thinking about becoming a freelancer:
Useful acquaintances. You should know lawyers before beginning your own company, a handful of them, actually. Create a list of those who you think will hire you for “contract” work. These lawyers who like, respect, and trust you and your work is going to be your prospective customer base. If you have got this going for you, you could have the ability to turn freelancing into a profitable gig.
Anticipate long hours of hard labor. A number of the very prosperous paralegal freelancers I know work a stable 80+ hours each week. And you are blessed if 1/3 of the time is billable. Expect to add hundreds of hours managing behind the scenes operations, coping with technology problems, promoting your services, creating new relations…and the list continues on and on.
You’ll require start-up investment. (By this I mean not a couple of hundreds, not even a couple of thousands) You’re rising your own business. You will need to buy, borrow or lease office devices: a computer, fax machine, phone, dedicated phone line, copier, scanner, storage for files/documents.
You’ll need cash to live on. Despite an impressive Rolodex of professional relations, you should have the financial resources to keep you and your company alive in the first weeks/months of starting up. You will also have to get back up capital in case you have an unexpected unfortunate episode befall you. It occasionally breaks. You never know what problems you might encounter. The majority of the experts would likely tell you that at very least you need a backup enough to cover 6-9 months of living expenses.
You’ll have to put the prices on your services. When doing this, consider the tax weights. Yes, you will find a few. As you are your own company, you will want to account for payroll taxes. This means you’ll have to bill more on an hourly basis than you really mean to earn (like in net) since you’ll be liable for paying your very own state and federal taxation.
You’ll need liability insurance. You will want to check out liability insurance prices if you intend to work as an independent paralegal. As you’re basically your employer, you will want to cover yourself against any unfortunate events. In case you were accused of wrongdoing, improper behavior, or a claim or lawsuit is filed against you, then you will require that liability insurance policy. Telephone the brokers. Shop the prices. Get the policy.
You will need to establish and set up a LLC or incorporation. Speak to a respectable lawyer to receive your LLC or paperwork in order so that you can protect your personal assets and establish your enterprise structure up perfectly. Better to cover today, than to pay later.
You + a typical contract and appropriate small business types = YES! You are likely to want them. Have them officially drawn up by a lawyer to protect your interests. Maybe you know a lawyer that will do it for you without any cost.
You’ll require advertising. And they gotta look expensive or lawyers will not like, respect, and trust that your brand or you’ve got anything worth their attention. Business cards, letterhead, custom headers for faxes, e-mail signatures, etc. Consider a catchy name, professional logo design and brand identity. The advertising materials you send out are the extension of you. They talk to other people in an area before you appear and hopefully, long after you leave. I am hoping you get a picture design artist/friend in your list of links. Otherwise, look up one. You are gonna need it! (And yes, you are going to need to pay also.)
You’ll need templates. Any excellent paralegal has templates. Any excellent paralegal enjoys templates. It doesn’t matter if you’ve worked in the industry 10 minutes, 10 years, or 10 centuries, paralegals die and live by their own templates. They enhance your efficiency, your work product, as well as your time. It probably bears mentioning that you will require some legal expertise to understand what forms you will need and if they are any good or not.
Anticipate collection problems. Not every lawyer for whom you do legal work will eagerly write you a check ASAP. A company’s finances generally ebb and flow (particularly at small businesses ) like a family’s budget, and that means you might be waiting longer than you would like to. Be prepared to fulfill your overhead, expenses, and individual bills.
That is by no means a comprehensive listing. Bear in mind that the L-R-T quotient, it is a significant one – you wish to be liked, respected, and trusted. And remember that as a U.S. paralegal, you’ll need to work under the supervision of an attorney. Steer clear of any UPL (unauthorized practice of law)
If I have not managed to frighten off you yet, you could likely one day become an extremely successful freelancer.