Freedom. Flexibility. Independence. These words describe some of the perks of working as a freelance lawyer. As a lawyer working freelance, you may be able to choose the manner – and the amount of time – that you would like to work. Sounds enticing, right?
However, remember this: whether you’re considering freelancing as your “main gig” or a “side hustle,” you’ll want to have a plan to grow your practice. Although you may want to build a “free”lance practice, you may not actually want to work for “free.” Accordingly, building a business plan to grow your freelance lawyer practice is essential for success.
If you’re interested in creating and developing your freelance law practice, check out these five tips from an experienced lawyer.
1. Create a Business Plan - Clients Don’t Grow on Trees
The classic saying “If you build it, they will come,” may work great for baseball fields. However, if this is your main business plan, you may find this won’t work for your freelance law practice. Building and growing a successful law practice takes hard work and strategy.
According to Estate Planning/Elder Law Attorney and Founder of AccessioDocs, Tracy Troyer “Your potential clients are being inundated with messages, distractions, and advertisements all day, every day. Spending a large fortune to build a fancy website and social media page as well as renting or building a luxurious office doesn’t guarantee a freelance lawyer an influx of clients. You should have a plan to grab the attention of potential clients to get them to walk through the door.”
As you create your business plan, think about a client’s journey from not knowing who you are or what services you provide to a satisfied client excited to refer you to friends. How do you get a client from point A to point B? What do you need to have in place to facilitate that journey? Develop a plan to set up consultations with potential clients, build trust with them, serve your clients well, and obtain referrals to serve others.
2. Explore Using Technology to Increase Your Efficiency and Effectiveness
If you’re a freelance lawyer, it may feel like you alone bear the responsibility for taking care of everything associated with your practice, including the everyday administrative tasks. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. For example, using a document automation service like AccessioDocs to delegate routine tasks may open the door to an increase in your overall efficiency – creating more time for you to focus on more complex legal tasks.
What’s more, document automation services can help with the tedious, repetitive, day-to-day work of preparing standard legal documents, such as a Will, court pleading, or even a standard contract, among other routine documents. Think about how much time a freelance lawyer could save from routine, everyday tasks by instituting automated processes!
There are other important examples of how technology can help. For example, client management software can help onboard new customers, manage your client base, and keep client files organized. Also, invoicing or billing software can help take care of invoices and payments electronically, getting you paid faster.
3. Think About the Numbers
Before you travel down the freelance road, you’ll want to know how much you need to charge and how many billable hours you will need to work each month in order to cover your expenses and turn a profit – especially if you’re going to be doing this full-time.
“One thing I would tell a freelance lawyer who is just getting started is don’t neglect the numbers,” Troyer advises. “Make sure you understand what your expenses are and how many billable hours you’ll need to work in order to cover your expenses. Neglecting the numbers early on could set you up for failure later.”
You’ll also want to think about:
How to properly set up your business (such as incorporating or setting up a limited liability company)
What bank accounts you need to launch (such as an operating account and IOLTA account)
What insurance to procure
How you’ll send invoices and receive payments
What tax documents you’ll need to file (among other important steps)
4. Build Your Network
Building your network is key to building your freelance lawyer practice. Think about how you can leverage your existing networks of connections in order to support your practice.
Family and friends who know you’re practicing law may be able to refer clients your way. In addition, attorneys who practice in different areas of the law may be able to send you clients that fit your area of specialty – and vice versa.
“You never know who in your network will know someone who could truly benefit from the services you provide,” Troyer explains. “Always keep your eyes and ears open.” Future clients in need of your great legal services are all around you.
5. Develop Sound Communication Skills
A freelance lawyer needs to develop strong oral and written communication skills. These skills will help you build trust with your clients and clearly advise on next steps. Perfecting this skill can also help you negotiate with other parties and advocate for your client in the courtroom in front of a judge and jury or at the business negotiating table.
Next Steps? Contact AccessioDocs Today to Learn How We Can Help!
Learning how to automate your document drafting process can help you devote more of your time to legal work as a freelance lawyer. If you are interested in adding document automation to your firm, AccessioDocs can help. Contact AccessioDocs today for more information on our document automation services built uniquely for freelance law firms just like yours. We provide custom solutions for attorneys in every area of the law. We have a cost-effective process that will help you grow your practice and make it more efficient without increasing your payroll expenses.