How to Become a Freelance Lawyer
Lawyers are among the most chased-after professionals in the world. Known for their extensive knowledge in an array of areas, lawyers are presumed to be geeks. Well, while we never know how far this holds true, but what remains constant is the universal respect offered to lawyers. Because of this, lawyers are able to earn handsomely and are among the richest professionals in the world. But, in the making of a good lawyer, a lot of time and hard work is required, which makes them members of the intellectual community. So, if you are one of them and want to begin a career as a freelance lawyer, then this article will guide you.
The freelance community is vast, and it expands every moment. With millions of participants, one can find ample opportunities to make a living. A freelance lawyer would, therefore, have access to a tremendously high number of opportunities. In order to become a freelance lawyer, there are certain considerations you need to keep in mind. So, it is advisable you pay attention to whatever has been narrated in this article. Only if you incorporate the information thoroughly, you will make a wonderful start.
So, here are four key elements involved in the making of a freelance lawyer:
1. Job Requirements
We are talking about one of the toughest professions in the world. In order to become a lawyer, mere knowledge is not enough unless you can make use of the acquired knowledge in practical situations. It is absolutely necessary that you have some academic qualification to start working as a freelance lawyer. Thus, freelance lawyers are part of those freelancing areas where sole experience is not an alternative to academic qualifications.
In order to understand better, read the following with due attention and consideration:
- The first and foremost requirement is graduation from a recognized university. In India, a typical law course is five-year integrated course; however, the three-year course pursued upon the completion of graduation is also prevalent. Once you have secured a degree in law, you are required to enroll yourself in the Bar Council of India to get a license. There are also State Bar Councils for different states in the country.
This procurement of license is a green signal for you to commence practicing. Only when you have completed these formal requirements, you are entitled to render legal advice. So, you better take your studies seriously!
- Now comes experience in the legal field. Once you have your license, you have a lot of options. Upon graduation, one can go for post-graduation (which is great), work at a law firm, start his/her own practice, sit for judicial examinations, or go into academics. Irrespective of where you work, it is the experience which will count.
If you have an impressive internship record, apart from a brilliant academic record, you can have the best of both worlds. In India, the situation is that there is a huge number of lawyers, but only some are capable of delivering quality. Therefore, it is advisable you gather quality experience in the legal field, and this will eventually help in courting clients.
2. Skills requirement
There are certain fundamental skills you, as a freelance lawyer, must have. Those skills have been provided below:
- Extensive knowledge of the law: This is an indispensable part of the legal profession. You are required to have extensive knowledge of laws of the country. In countries like India where there are thousands of laws, a lawyer is expected to maintain track on the most significant ones because laws keep changing with time and situations. For example, when a client seeks advice on the validity of a contract, you should be well-prepared with the law of contracts.
- Current affairs: As a lawyer, you are required to keep yourself updated with regional, national and international affairs. It is absolutely necessary that you read newspapers, magazines; follow online discussion portals, etc.
- Communication skills: What good a lawyer is if he/she lacks persuasion? Communication skills shape a lawyer and his personality. The more persuasive and informative he is, the more impressed his clients will be. There is a reason why lawyers are known for their oratory skills—it is because they need it. A lawyer has to convince his clients, the opposite party to the dispute, and the court. If he fails to convince the court, he fails as a lawyer.
- Meticulous: Lawyers are not just about oratory. They are also engaged in tedious jobs such as drafting. This includes drafting of plants, complaints, applications, written statements, etc which are time-consuming, technical and bulky. There is, in fact, a full-fledged course on drafting in law schools, and thus, you can imagine how much important drafting is. When a client seeks assistance from a lawyer, it is the lawyer who oversees the paperwork, and the courts or other formal institutions are particular about the format of certain documents.
- Punctual: Punctuality is an asset, and it is this asset which seems to have lost on many lawyers in the country. Indian courts have lamented on the upsetting scenario of absenteeism and avoidance of work showed by lawyers nowadays. You, as a freelance lawyer, cannot risk your career on that. You must develop the habit of punctuality. You should stick to the deadline the client provides, and in the case where deadline cannot be met, you should be prepared with a reasonable justification.
3. Where to work?
One could have gathered from the opening paragraph that lawyers are among the most chased-after professionals, and thus, finding work will not be a problem if you are efficient and hard working. The following are some of the places you can work as a freelance lawyer:
- Law Firm: Law firms are among the favorite working destinations and among the most lucrative ones. There are a number of prestigious firms such as Trilegal, AZB Legal, Economic Law Practice, JSA Legal, Mulla&Mulla, AmarchandMangaldas, Luthra&Luthraetc which provide handsome job opportunities to lawyers.
- Judges and lawyers: Many judges and lawyers take under their guidance interns and freelance lawyers, and pay them lavishly. Some famous personalities you can work with are Salman Khurshid, Kapil Sibal, VivekTankha, etc.
- Organizations and companies: Companies and organizations often designate a department for legal purposes undertaking oversight of all legal concerns. These departments often hire freelance lawyers to fill in the vacancies and reduce the workload.
- Online portals: There is a faster way to seek clients, and that is online. There are a number of websites which provide such opportunities such as freelance.com, worknhire.com, upwork.com, guru.com. There are other websites that routinely post job vacancies such as knowledgsteez.com, law octopus, live law, etc.
4. Pay rate
Lawyers usually demand a high pay rate, but this does not mean you will always have a smooth negotiation talk with the client. Much of the pay rate depends on the capability, skills, academic qualifications, and experience and so, you have to place a bid commensurate with the aforesaid factors.
You can easily start with $30 per hour pay rate and beyond if you know how and when to deal with the client—this is where you have to show your lawyering skills. Once you have established yourself as a freelance lawyer, your success chart will grow positive.