The Many Identities of an Indie Attorney


“They were the most interesting of people, they were the strangest of people” - My initial thoughts upon stumbling into the contract attorney world by chance and by choice. In 2007, I worked with over 100 attorneys in the prototypical doc shop that according to temporary attorney blogs is not actually a job, but a legal freak show (as imagined by avant-garde writers). I’ve met every kind of attorney imaginable:

  • The “Recovering” Lawyers who voluntarily left "glamorous" firm jobs because they were miserable, but they still loved law.

  • The Dynamic Lawyers who had too many outside interests to commit to the traditional legal lifestyle. In their spare time, they were opera singers, played in rock bands, wrote ghost detective novels, or had side businesses from biscotti and toy companies to stationary design.

  • The Legal Entrepreneurs, who were starting their own firms and picking up pro bono or per diem attorney work to gain experience while document review paid the bills.

These people were the inspiration for the Hire an Esquire concept.

Of my 2007-2008 doc shop peers, almost none remain document reviewers. The majority have moved onto different careers including associate, in-house counsel, of counsel, and legal aid roles, and arbitration and mediation careers. I hope this provides convincing evidence that document review is by no means career suicide. The majority are happier than the Big Law associates that I know because of the life pause they took to assess what they really wanted in their lives and careers.

Flexible career options for lawyers continue to expand well beyond document review. Other areas of the profession are finally discovering the benefits and balance that contract or freelance work can provide. Many more attorneys have traded in prized legal jobs for the freedom and challenge that freelance and/or solo work provides. Of course, freelance law is NOT Utopia; it has its own uncertainties and challenges and is certainly not for everyone. Some attorneys are naturally more comfortable in a company setting.

For those who aren't, Hire an Esquire will be highlighting the movers and shakers of this market segment (that is finally coming of age) in the series: “The Many Identities of an Indie Attorney.” Freelance attorneys registered with Hire an Esquire will share their experiences, ideas, advice and statements of ideological conviction. Our series kicks off on Monday with Veronica Maldonado of Just Below the Law. At Hire an Esquire, we have enjoyed Veronica’s constructive, but realistic perspective on the contract attorney world. As you’ll see from her bio, Veronica is one of the many attorneys who traded in a previously coveted legal job for a different career.

We’re looking for insight from others who have taken the freelance law path. Are you an attorney who is more of a captain than a soldier (or even mercenary or pirate)? If you are, and you're interested in writing about your experience in freelance law for our blog, please send us a direct message on Twitter or like us on Facebook and leave a comment.

We look forward to having you join our conversation.