Ever wonder what it is like to be a freelance lawyer (a lawyer who assists other lawyers, law firms, and in-house legal departments with their overflow legal work)? Our freelance lawyer Amy Grubb has written this informative blog post to give you a glimpse into a day in the life of a freelance lawyer:
As with most legal positions, no day as a freelance lawyer is ever quite the same. Here is a snapshot of a random day in my life as a part-time freelance lawyer.
5:30 am: I am not one of those people who presses the snooze button for another 45 minutes of shut eye. My alarm goes off and I am up. I figure part of this is because I never know when one of my kids is going to wake up so I might as well get going before chaos breaks out. I get dressed, check my emails and finalize and send out a freelance agreement to a new client. Believe it or not, there is no coffee for me. Ever. It’s just not my thing.
6:45 am: My little people are now rolling out of bed. This means it’s time to get breakfast ready (omelettes), get the kids dressed, make lunches and help my son fill loot bags for his upcoming birthday party.
8:40 am: I walk the kids to school. This is one of my favourite times of the day (especially now that the weather is warm). On this particular walk we discuss fossils and how they are made.
9:15 am: Gym. This is my “me time”. No work, no kids, no distractions. I then head home to shower and get to work (I have a virtual office and tend to work primarily from home).
Noon: I pick up my youngest from preschool. Now this is my favourite part of my day. She lights up when she sees me and gives me the biggest hug. Ahhhhhhhh, lucky me. We walk back home where I give her a snack and then she is off to bed for her afternoon nap. I then prepare lunch (shrimp and leftover veggie salad) and sit down with my husband (who also works from home) for a quick lunch.
1:00 pm: I continue on with the GDPR research outlined above. I also take care of some administrative tasks: confirm details of a conference call taking place later today, RSVP to a breakfast networking event and confirm client instructions on a file.
3:00 pm: My daughter is up and ready to go. We hang out for a bit before heading out to pick up the big kids from school.
3:20 pm: School run.
4:10 pm: Hang out with the kids. Today we are reading books and talking about what they did at school that day. Apparently my son was involved in an “epic” game of dodgeball. He tells me about every play in detail.
4:30 pm: My husband takes over with the kids while I jump on a conference call. It is a group call with a law firm that is planning to offer legal services to its clients through independent contractors, such as myself. I really think it is a great time to be an entrepreneurial minded lawyer. There is so much possibility and freedom to work in a non-traditional way than ever before.
5:45 pm: After the call, dinner is literally being put on the table. Yay for me! Hubby has made tacos with guacamole. Our dinner conversation with the kids revolves around birthday party plans, different types of cows and whether brown cows actually produce chocolate milk (some of us are still undecided on that one) as well as a vote on what food you like best among ice cream, pizza or smoothies (that’s a tough one for me but I think depending on where it is from I would have to go with pizza. It would have to be pizza from Windsor because it is the best).
6:15 pm: Tidy up the path of destruction that has been left behind by the kids. One of my kids was stuck with laundry for a chore this week so I showed him how to fold the clothes and put them away. I am pretty sure he pretended that it was too difficult so I ended up doing most of it. In the meantime, my husband helps the other with his homework and the youngest with making sure she didn’t stick her fingers in any electrical outlets.
7:00 pm: Bedtime for the kids.
7:15 pm: Grocery store run.
9:30 pm: I can’t lie. I record the Bachelorette weekly and am a die hard fan. No shame. Time to sit back and enjoy!
11:00 pm: Off to get some shut eye (with visions of fossils, brown cows and loot bags dancing in my head).
Thanks Amy for this informative (and entertaining) post! This is a great example of how freelance lawyers can provide quality legal work and excellent client service to sole practitioner, law firm, and in-house legal department clients, while still being engaged in other aspects of life. A number of our freelance lawyers do not have children, but have other responsibilities that require a flexible legal practice. Freelancing gives them this flexibility.
We also provide flexibility to you - our lawyer and law firm clients. We eliminate the need for you to hire a full-time associate or counsel (only hire us when you need us), save on overhead (we work remotely), and can give you more flexibility in your legal practice (off-load the work you don't want to do and keep the work you do!) If you are looking for a freelance lawyer to assist with your overflow legal work, please do not hesitate to reach out and find out how we can help you.
Did you miss the Law Society of Ontario’s solo and small firm conference this year?
We’ve attended this conference every year for the last four years and each year we are impressed with the topics and programs. This conference is always appropriately geared toward issues that solo and small firms face and provides great networking opportunities throughout the day. As freelance lawyers, we are all technically “sole practitioners” (although we are not really sole practitioners, see our blog post on why that is, here) and face the same issues solos/small firms face, so it is a great program for freelance lawyers as well.
This blog post will provide some of the highlights of this year’s conference, in case you missed it!
The title for the conference was: Solo and Small Firm Conference 2018: The 21st Century Lawyer. The chairs were, once again, Kathleen Erin Cullin and Allan Oziel, this year joined by Barbara Hicks.
The opening plenary was by Jack Newton of Clio and was called Using Data to Deliver a Better Client Experience. Jack provided quantitative data (U.S. based) to show how consumers find their lawyers and how lawyers are failing (or succeeding) in delivering legal services (are we capturing all of our time? Are we being efficient? Are we using technology to cut down on inefficiencies?) Our only feedback on this session is that it was too similar to last year’s opening plenary.
After that, we attended a session by Noel Semple called Enhancing Profitability while Increasing Access to Justice. While this topic seems like a bit of an oxymoron, Noel spoke about finding the “Sweet Spot” for personal plight lawyers (lawyers who deal with family law, criminal, and estates, etc. where personal problems and emotions are involved rather than corporate issues) between providing quality and professional services, making a profit, and offering accessible legal services. One possibility was to provide unbundled legal services or working on a limited scope retainer. Another tactic was to learn to delegate or outsource legal work. We wholeheartedly agree with this, outsourcing certain tasks (legal research, drafting, court appearances, blog post drafting) to freelance lawyers (who often charge out at a lower rate) means you can pass those savings on to your client and free up your time.
Megan Cornell, the Founder and CEO of Momentum Law next spoke on using technology to scale your firm or practice at the session Scaling Your Practice: Make More Money with Better Technology and Processes. I wish I had taken more notes during this session as it appears her presentation and slide deck are not in the provided material (unless it has now been recently added?) Megan spoke about doing more with less and getting rid of inefficiencies in your office. For example, she spoke about the “Two Scoop Solution” that her law firm embraces. This came from their use of a coffee machine that required 8 scoops of ground coffee for the perfect pot of coffee. The problem was it took a long time to scoop out 8 scoops. So, they found a larger scoop and figured out two of the larger scoops equalled 8 of the smaller scoop, reducing their time spent on making coffee in the morning. Anything that reduces redundancy and helps with efficiencies improves the overall practice of law and makes for a better client (and lawyer) experience. Megan spoke about some of the technology she uses to automate her practice as much as possible (including Clio, Office 365, Lexicata, Athennian, Closing Folders, LawPay, Typeform, etc.)
We learned how to “cherry-pick” our clients in a session by Marni MacLeod, the Vice President of Skunkworks Creative Group Inc. Marni suggested using “client personas” to target the right audience. What is a “client persona”? It is basically a composite sketch that includes realistic characteristics for a segment of your clients or a new client group you want to attract. Who is your ideal client? A starting point is to look at the clients you already have and look for patterns you can identify, for example clients with a specific legal problem, clients who came from the same referral source, etc. Marni then took us through an exercise to help us start our client personas, so we could target our marketing correctly.
Finally, we attended a session by Brooke MacKenzie of MacKenzie Barristers Professional Corporation, who spoke about 10 Ethical Issues to Watch Out for in Practice. These included the new rules on marketing and marketing restrictions, joint retainer issues, referral fees, conflicts etc.
There were several other sessions happening concurrently that included sessions on the new tax rules; a guide to working with expert witnesses; building a practice that fits your life; disability and accommodation issues in your practice; running your practice as a business; etc. (We unfortunately missed the closing plenary on “Becoming a Blockchain Lawyer” as we had to sneak out early to prep for The Advocates’ Society End of Term dinner.)
Another bonus for conference attendees were unique workshops that were available to those who signed up in advance. The topics for these workshops were: Building Your Professional and Personal Brand on LinkedIn, Using Storytelling Techniques to be more Memorable, Effective Negotiation Principles and Strategies, and Growing your Practice through Equity and Inclusion.
Networking opportunities happened throughout the day (and the night before at the Treasurer’s Dinner at Osgoode Hall), which is always a great way for solos and small firm lawyers to make connections with other lawyers in their areas of practice or to find referral sources. These breaks also gave us a chance to visit the exhibitors’ booths and learn about new technology and services geared toward solo and small firms. Or you could wander over to the “ingenious bar” where you could speak to representatives from various LSO associations: Homewood Health, LawPro, Law Society Referral Service, Practice Management Helpline, Spot Audit, the Action Group on Access to Justice, etc.
We look forward to attending next year’s Solo Small Firm Conference and hope to see you there!
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