I became a freelance lawyer somewhat by accident, but my story is likely the same as many women who choose this path. I took the traditional path to becoming a lawyer – graduated with my law degree, articled and then found a job on Bay Street as a Research Lawyer. But, I had my first child six days before starting the Bar Admission Course, which meant that I started that Bay Street job with a four-month old. My husband was also finishing law school and began articling nine months after I started working. So, it was a bit of a crazy time.
After a couple of years of juggling, I decided I needed a change. I left Bay Street and spent four years working for the Children’s Aid Society. It was rewarding, fast-paced work. But, it was work that involved one piece of legislation, and after a while I felt like I had learned all that there was to learn. The work no longer felt as challenging, and I was again looking for change. Trying to find that elusive job that would give me professional satisfaction but still let me spend time with my family.
So, I ended up back at my original Bay Street firm as a knowledge management lawyer for the litigation department. I had left the firm on good terms and was very happy to be back. But sometimes life throws you curve balls. One of my children developed some health issues and it made sense for me to find work closer to home (I was commuting about an hour each way into Toronto). I started practicing corporate-commercial litigation at a smaller regional firm. After a couple of years, I realized that I needed even more flexibility. I left my job. For the first time ever, I was unemployed and not sure what I wanted to do.
I wanted to work, but wanted to do so on my own terms. A couple of months out, I was contacted by a former colleague who needed some help with a litigation file. That same week, I was contacted by a former client who needed a contract reviewed. Shortly after that, I was introduced to another lawyer who needed assistance, and then another. And before I knew it, I had my own practice. Initially I did some direct client work, but as the amount of work that I had for other lawyers increased, I stopped taking on direct client work. It has been just over a year since I took on that first project, and my only regret is that I didn’t make this change sooner.
Gayle assists law firms and in-house legal departments with legal research and drafting, litigation support, expert witness research, contract drafting, and legal content marketing (among other services). Find out more about Gayle here.