Four Steps to Building a Successful Freelance Law Practice
Hire an Esquire welcomes our first guest blogger, Stacy Lilly. Stacy has successfully built her solo and freelance law practice, The Lilly Law Office, over the past year. And now, she's telling us how she did it, and how your law firm can do it too. It has been well over a year since I launched my practice and started helping other attorneys on a freelance basis. During that time, I have been approached by numerous attorneys who are interested in doing freelance legal work, but are not sure where to begin; or are currently doing some contract work, and want to grow their businesses. Of course, there is no handbook to a successful law practice, but it can be helpful to learn from others who have been there. Here are a few tips that helped me develop my freelance practice.
Be comfortable in your freelance shoes.
First and foremost, you must embrace being a freelancer. When asked, be ready to tell your audience the many benefits of working with a freelance attorney. This adds an additional hurdle to your road to success because freelancers must first “sell” the concept of using freelance legal services. But once you have a few projects under your belt and some practical experiences to share, it will become much easier to sell yourself and your services.
Market yourself as a freelance attorney.
Once you are comfortable in your freelance shoes, you must market your services. I continue to be amazed at the number of lawyers who do some sort of contract work and want to build that part of their practice, but do not market those services. Some, in fact, don’t even carry business cards. Marketing does not have to be expensive. Social media is free and a box of business cards and a basic website can cost you very little.
Contact your existing network.
Unlike the traditional law firm model, where attorneys seek business from individuals or other business, freelance attorneys target other lawyers and law firms. This is actually good news because if your rolodex looks anything like mine, it is bursting with other attorneys. This is the best place to start for business. Set up a LinkedIn profile and reconnect with law school classmates, colleagues from prior places you have worked, and other attorneys you have dealt with during your career. Let them know what you’re doing. Most of my projects come from personal referrals and recommendations from current clients. Yours probably will too.
Building a successful freelance legal practice is in most respects like any other law practice. It takes strategic planning, dedication, time, and perhaps most importantly, patience. If you provide your clients with great service at a reasonable rate, they will probably call upon you again. It might not be next week or next month, but they will. In the meantime, keep networking and marketing yourself. The return on your investment of time may not be immediate, but in the long run, it will be worth it.
Stacy N. Lilly practices in Philadelphia where she serves small businesses and entrepreneurs, providing legal advice and representation in litigation, commercial transactions, and business planning. She also assists other attorneys with their litigation practices on a freelance basis. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and website is www.thelillylawoffice.com.