There’s a million reasons why someone might go solo. From moonlighting, to building that perfect work-life balance, to branching out in your career, the options are endless. Whatever your reason may be, you’ve chosen to go for it, and that’s commendable in itself.
We’ll be the first to say that the transition from a full time position to a freelance legal career doesn’t happen overnight. You’re used to the billable hours, going into the office, and of course the perceived stability and financial security that a traditional career brings.
The good news is that freelance life is incredibly versatile, and can be even more lucrative. You get to decide when you want to work, who you want to work with, and what you want to work on. Here’s what you should expect in your first three months as a Lawtrader. And, who better than to describe their experience, and share their most helpful tips than a Lawtrader herself.
Meet Sheilla! She’d been working with legal placement services on and off since 2000, and was incredibly underwhelmed by the positions that they were recruiting for. That’s when she met Lawtrades. After she joined the platform, she found the jobs were not only relevant to her experience, but paid great, and offered the opportunity to up-skill and utilize all of her varied experience. As a seasoned veteran, she knows the ins and outs of the industry.
Landing the First Engagement
Getting hired on that first engagement on Lawtrades is often thought of as the make-or-break of your Lawtrades journey. You are joining the platform to get hired after all. Thankfully, after you’ve built out your profile, the hardest part is over. As soon as your profile’s been approved, we recommend that you apply to 2-3 engagements that suit your interests and experience from the get-go.
Sheilla advises that you check the job postings on the site, as well as the ones delivered to your inbox. There are often things that may interest you that don’t hit your profile. If you don’t see something that suits your interests right away, don’t worry - we’re adding new engagements on a daily basis so something will pop up. And, when you do land that first engagement, getting hired for your second, third, and so on is that much easier. Clients love to see Lawtraders with experience under their belt.
Transitioning from an Engagement to a Contract
Oftentimes, our Lawtraders are using us as a stepping stone to land a more stable engagement. Just six weeks into Sheilla's first engagement, she ended up being hired on at a salary she was looking for and benefits that suited her. After a reorganization of the group, the fit was no longer right for either her or the company and they amicably parted ways. During that engagement, she picked up a part time assignment that soon transitioned to full time, with better pay, benefits and appreciation for what she brought to the table. Sheilla takes every engagement as a learning opportunity, and feels her first engagement set not only the company up for success in the future, but also a path for her to expand her talent.
Balancing Part-Time Gigs
There’s no shame in wanting to make a little extra cash on the side. In addition to her full-time gig, Sheilla loves picking up part time gigs to help out on a project-by-project basis. By picking up engagements that are project-oriented, she’s able to help out outside of traditional business hours, instead of being on the clock (or active on slack!). Pro tip: pick up part-time engagements you could do in your sleep (i.e. the ones that require little training and match your existing skill set).
In this way, she can easily juggle her full-time position as a priority, and keep the simple tasks for her part-time role. Keep in mind, you need to be open and honest with all parties involved. Have the confidentiality spiel in your back pocket, and make sure the higher-ups are aware of the working hours you’ll commit to. Sheilla’s best recommendation? Have two computers. That way, you can easily separate (and keep secure) one gig from the other.
Expanding your Skills
The diverse nature of our clients allows many Lawtraders to gain a wide breadth of experience under their belts. If you’re thinking of dipping your toes into another industry, you can use your experience from early engagements to pivot. That’s exactly how Sheilla ventured into the legal ops space.
“I have taken the opportunity to expand and hone my skills within the Legal Operations realm and have found this to be a hot area of focus for many companies. Setting a late stage start-up on the path to IPO readiness is something that really got me excited and stretched me by introducing me to new software and tools that I can use going forward.”
While not every opportunity on Lawtrades will match your current specs, there’s no harm in applying for positions you don’t meet the exact qualifications for. A good rule to abide by is the 75-25 rule. If you meet 75% of the qualifications, you can easily learn the other 25%. Sheilla recommends using LinkedIn Learning to verse yourself on any tech-related skills that may be required for the position. Better yet…need to learn how to use a new contracting or workflow software? Request a free trial from the company. By taking initiative to expand your skills prior to interviewing, you’ll increase your likelihood of getting hired, while also ensuring a smooth transition on the job.
After landing several engagements, Sheilla felt her experiences and opportunities for growth expanded rapidly. Her top tips? Apply to engagements often, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Always be ready to learn as you go, pivot when necessary, and have confidence in your work. In the gig economy, it’s easy to undervalue yourself. If someone is not appreciating your value, there’s someone else that will. By keeping a positive, and forthcoming attitude, you’ll keep your priorities high, and the engagements will follow. Of course, don’t be afraid to have fun with it! By picking the freelance lifestyle, you’re choosing to keep your time in your own hands. Not to mention, you can work from anywhere (hello…beach?), and wave goodbye to the daily commute.
We couldn’t help but share her kind words...
“My experience with Lawtrades has been one of the best that I have had with an agency in so far as diversity of opportunities and the commitment to showcasing their talent. You are appreciated and valued by the team. Make the most of each assignment, you never know where it could lead.”
Starting your journey on Lawtrades is an enriching and rewarding experience. We’re so proud to be able to facilitate the transition to so many flexible, and fulfilling careers for our talent. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to our team!