Category Archives: Ultimate Guides

Most Common Areas of Law Practiced In America

There are some areas of law which are in more demand than others. Depending on the direction of your legal career, you may want to pursue an area of law that will maintain your business for years to come.

Aside from the financial aspects of your career, you may also want to choose a career that is challenging and stimulating. If you have been wondering which area of practice to focus your legal career, here’s a good place to start.

1. Commercial Litigation

Coming in at the top of this list is commercial litigation. This type of law covers a wide range of legal services relating to the business world. A few examples include:

  • Class action lawsuits
  • Business Torts
  • Contract cases (i.e. breaches)
  • Disputes between partners/joint ventures
  • Shareholder issues
  • Civil RICO claims

In these cases, lawyers will either be the prosecutor or defense attorney for their clients. This area of law requires lawyers to be extraordinarily creative, possess accurate judgment, and quick to build a winning position.

Commercial litigation has some of the highest paying lawyers in the industry. It is the lawyer’s responsibility to work in favor of their clients’ needs and achieve the best results possible.

2. Real Estate Law

Real estate law is a busy area of practice involving a lot of technical requirements focused on sales and entitlements. Some of the services expected from real estate lawyers include:

  • Provide legal support with the contract requiring construction and other agreements toward property development.
  • Examine title, evaluate expectations, and negotiate related insurance policies.
  • Sales and Acquisitions. Represent buyers and sellers and assist with contracting the acquisition and disposition of property.
  • Assist with the negotiation of lease agreements.

3. Personal Injury Law

Some of the most common occurrences of personal injury claims involve car accidents and work-related accidents. However, personal injury lawyers provide services for a range of damages that occur in an individual. These cases are made whenever one person claims to have been injured by another person, business, or legal entity.

Other cases of personal injury include sexual harassment, wrongful death, and fraud.

Lawyers will provide legal services for clients that may be entitled to monetary compensation for any damages. Cases of personal injury must be evaluated by an expert attorney as some situations may be viewed as a criminal offense and require a criminal lawyer. In this case, there may not be any monetary compensation and if the accused is found guilty they may end up serving time in jail.

4. Labor and Employment Law

Labor and employment law involves complex legal support for situations occurring in the workplace. This area of law can my very complicated for employers, especially in the way it affects their employees.

The levels of law handled by these lawyers include local, state, and federal laws. When it comes to the process of law in court or mitigating cases, the outcome often has direct impacts on the lives and livelihoods of both the employees and employers.

Labor and employment laws strive to protect employment rights and wellbeing while ensuring the profitability of a business. The result of this can lead to some very complex situation that is difficult to resolve.

5. Family Law

Family law is a unique area of law that focuses on issues that occur in domestic relationships. This includes marriage, common-law, domestic partnerships, civil unions, and other related types.

It is common for family lawyers to handle cases involved the dissolution of marriages. A family lawyer will also be responsible for spousal alimony, child support, the division of assets, and other family-related liabilities. Family lawyers and divorce lawyers are often interchangeable titles.

Family lawyers have also known the handle cases involving child custody, child support, parental abduction, domestic abuse, adoption, and surrogacy.

6. Bankruptcy Law

Bankruptcy law not only covers situations of bankruptcy but also overlaps with some areas of corporate law and litigation. Bankruptcy lawyers are required to assess a client’s financial debt, transactional history, assets, securities, and taxes. All this information is needed to understand a clients situation and negotiate the terms of their bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy lawyers are involved with a very stressful part of the law. While this type of law applies at the commercial level, the impacts on individuals can be very consequential. Bankruptcy lawyers must have strong interpersonal skills while understanding the functions and operational side of finance.

These lawyers work with their clients to provide them with protections and amendments to their financial situation. Often debtors will be involved throughout the legal process. These debtors are used to offer a wide range of solutions for clients before having to resort to bankruptcy. The ultimate goal of bankruptcy lawyers is to establish and constructive outcome that can restore credit and financial rights.

7. Immigration Law

Immigration lawyers do more than just help immigrants become new citizens of the country they live in. Immigration law involves issues related to naturalization, visa, labor certification, deportation, fraud investigation, and political asylum.

In most cases, immigration lawyers protect their clients from deportation while offering legal advice to help them stay legally in the country. Alternatively, these lawyers offer support for obtaining the right certifications to work legally in a country by obtaining the proper visa.

8. Insurance Law

Insurance law involves cases regarding insurance policies and claims. To better understand insurance law it is critical to know the structure and terms involved:

  • Policy: this is the contract outlining what an insurance company is willing to pay in the case of loss.
  • Insured: this is the person who receives the benefits of the insurance policy.
  • Benefits: these are the services and financial rewards an insurance company provides in the case of loss.
  • Premium: this is the amount of money paid by the insured to the insurance company.
  • Claim: this is a request for benefits when a situation of loss occurs.
  • Coverage: these are the types of losses an insurance company provides coverage and reimbursement for.
  • Insurance agent: this is a person who is licensed to sell insurance policies to someone.

Insurance lawyers handle three specific situations:

  1. Insurance companies are hired to represent the insured in a situation where the insured is being sued for something related to their insurance policy.
  2. Insurance lawyers are hired to help people with a claim against an insurance company.
  3. Insurance companies are hired to ensure that a company under an insurance policy is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.

Which Lawyers Make The Most Money?

If you’re getting into law just to make money, this may not be a career for you. Lawyers are responsible for working on some sensitive cases that can alter the outcome of people’s lives. Keeping this in mind, there is much more to the law than just money.

However, money is a motivating factor in any career. For recent graduates from law school with heavy debts, getting a good paying legal job is likely a top priority. Also, listening to an experienced lawyer with a six-figure salary might tell new associates not to worry about the money can be demotivating.

Instead, let’s take a look at which lawyers are making the most money.

High Paying vs. Low Paying Salaries

Whether working at a law firm or as a solo practitioner, lawyers, in general, make a decent amount of money.

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, these are some of the published salaries for lawyers in America. On the lower end, the average salary is just over $50,000. In comparison, some of the top paying salaries can earn over $200,000.

There are two major factors that influence the amount of money a lawyer earns which are location and area of specialization.

Highest Paying Cities for Lawyers

Depending on where you practice law, you could also earn more money. According to the BLS, the following states offer the highest salaries: California, New York, Florida, and Texas.

Highest Paying States for Lawyers

Some states have a higher salary than others. Here are the best paying states with the highest mean salaries according to the BLS: District of Columbia, California, New York, Massachusetts.

Highest Paying Industries for Lawyers

If you’re an in-house lawyer, you can earn more money depending on which industry they work for. Here’s the what the BLS says are the highest paying industries for lawyers: Scheduled Air Transportation, Industrial Machinery Manufacturing, Beer, Wine and Distilled Beverages, Semiconductors and Other Electronics.

Highest Paying Government Lawyers

There are some positions in government that pay significantly more than others. Public interest lawyers often have the lowest salaries whereas lawyers at the federal level can earn six figures. Here is a summary of the top paying government salaries for lawyers from the BLS: Federal Government, Local Government, State Government.

Highest Paying Law Firms

If you’re wondering which law firms offer the most money, that’ll depend on whether you are a partner or just an associate. The following law firms are some of the top-earning firms in America as of 2016: Latham & Watkins; Baker & McKenzie; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom; Kirkland & Ellis; and Clifford Chance.

Here’s a look at those numbers in more detail:

Firm
Name
Year Established Yearly Revenue Profit
Margin
Profit per Lawyer
Latham & Watkins 1934 $2.65B 50% $606,000
Baker & McKenzie 1949 $2.62B 35% $183,000
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom 1948 $2.41B 51% $727,000
Kirkland & Ellis 1909 $2.3B 55% $771,000
Clifford Chance 1987 $2.11B 36% $251,000


Source of Law Firm Statistics:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_law_firms_by_revenue

Solo Practitioners

What does the salary look like for a solo practitioner? Information for the amount of money earned by solo practitioners gets released each year by the IRS. Often, these lawyers have considerably lower salaries than those listed above.

In 2012, salaries were reported to be as low as $50,000. However, this amount is often seen as the starting salary for new solo practitioners.

The reason why solo practitioners have a lower salary could be due to the fact they are responsible for all aspects of their legal services. If it is not in their budget to hire legal staff to reduce time spent on menial tasks such as administrative and financial related duties, it can limit their salary.

On the other hand, there are various affordable solutions for lawyers to make their legal services more efficient and effective. Legal software help lawyers to free up more time to work with clients and network.

In addition, solo practitioners can be more successful at finding new clients if they have a website for their legal services and learn how to use online marketing.

One thing to remember is that pursuing a career in law should not be for the money. Instead, pursuing a business career may prove to be more lucrative if money is a lawyer’s true motivation.

Solo Lawyer’s Guide To Websites

Being a solo practitioner comes with added obstacles and challenges that established law firms may not experience. From office administration to employee management to client intake, there are many tasks that must be performed in order for a legal service to succeed.

This article will focus on the importance of lawyer websites and why having one would benefit a solo lawyer.

Here’s a quick overview of everything this solo lawyer’s guide will cover:

  • Getting a website
  • Finding web design ideas
  • Starting a blog
  • Promoting the website
  • Improving the website’s performance

Reasons Solo Lawyers Need A Website

Solo lawyers have the ability to choose their own hours, select who they work with, and decide which cases they want to work on. While this may sound appealing at first, the additional work required to run a law firm by yourself can take a considerable amount of extra time.

To reduce some of the inevitable work, solo lawyers can use a website to delegate many of their regular office tasks.

Here are a few benefits solo lawyers can get with their website:

  1. Advertise Legal Services.
  2. Find New Clients
  3. Establish a Brand / Reputation.
  4. Improve Intaking.
  5. Share Professional Legal Knowledge

There are some DIY website builders or if you don’t have the time to build a website yourself, you can hire a professional developer.

Website Design for Solo Lawyers

Although a website should provide useful information, the design and functionality can affect whether a visitor will use your legal services or search somewhere else.

Most visitors coming to any website will be searching for the information they need right away. If your solo lawyer website takes too long to load, has an unattractive design, or is confusing to navigate, expect visitors to leave before ever inquiring about your practice.

Designing a website with your prospective clients in mind will have greater benefits in the long term. Here are a few tips to guide you toward a good website for your solo service:

  • Choose A Good Design. The aesthetics of your solo lawyer website is important. Consider the look and feel of your website. Ask yourself, does it showcase your professionalism? Expertise?
  • Don’t Confuse Visitors. When visitors come to your website, keep the message clear and make your pages easy to navigate. Nothing is more frustrating to someone online than landing on a website and not knowing what to do or where to go.
  • Offer Quality Content. While it may be useful to have a website featuring your office hours and contact information, you can improve your website’s performance by adding a blog and providing helpful information.
  • Have A CTA. You need a Call To Action on your website. This could be an onscreen pop-up requesting an email or your contact number in large font that offers the visitor a free consultation if the contact you today.

When you discuss your website with a web designer, remember to focus on the website’s function while paying attention to the overall aesthetic and design. To get more ideas for you website design, check out 2017’s best lawyer websites or 2018’s best law firm websites.

Blogging About Law

Solo lawyers with a blog on their website can improve their reach for prospective clients. Blogs are a great way to share informal information, showcase your expertise in your area of law, and build an online reputation.

Blogs allow solo lawyers with competitive strategy for marketing their legal services. For example, the information and expertise about the law may be unique to you. Sharing some tips, such as what to do after getting in a car accident, can help you stand out against other law firms in your area.

To create a successful lawyer blog, you’ll want to consider the keywords people are using in search engines. For example, if you’re a solo lawyer practicing divorce law in California, you’ll want to write an article with similar words inside. Keep reading to learn how keywords in your website can improve its performance. 

Promoting Your Legal Services

In order for a solo lawyer website to serve its purpose, finding new clients, it is going to need visitors. Paid promotions can be an effective method toward promoting your legal services and finding your next client.

To get started, two of the most common places to promote a website include Google PPC and Facebook Ads.

Google uses competitive keywords to provide ads on the first page of their results to people making searches related your selected words. Facebook offers this same feature, however, it has an even more powerful tool for targeting the perfect audience.

Depending on your budget and goals, Google PPC and Facebook Ads can have different results. For more information about which one you should use to promote your website, go to Google PPC for Lawyers or Facebook Ads for Lawyers.

Improving Your Website’s Performance 

For alternatives to paid promotions, you can make a few modifications to your website to improve the performance. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a method of making your website better recognized by search engines which presents your website to more people.

As mentioned before, having a blog is one way to improve your SEO. Blogs allow you to add various keyword rich pages to your website which can improve the likelihood of your website being discovered.

Other methods of improving your solo lawyer website’s SEO includes:

  • Obtain backlinks from other websites
  • Perform competitive keyword research
  • Add titles, sub-headers, and meta-information
  • Submit website to directories

Improving the SEO of a website can be both technical and confusing. To get a better understanding of SEO and the things you can do to improve your website go to SEO for Lawyers.

Inside The Courtroom, Who’s Doing What?

There are a lot of different people who enter the courtroom for a trial or hearing. The common players are the lawyers, their clients, and the judges making the ultimate decision. Let’s take a look at all the people found in a courtroom.

The Parties

The people or entities (i.e. a business) who are involved in a lawsuit are known as “parties”. In civil cases, you’ll have plaintiffs (the suing party) and defendants (the party being sued). In criminal cases, there will only be the defendants involved with the crime. Particularly in criminal cases, defendants have a constitutional right to be present at their trials. The Sixth Amendment says, “the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted by the witnesses against him.” Whereas in civil cases, you can opt out of attending the trial.

The Lawyers

Inside the courtroom, lawyers represent their clients or state-appointed parties in the lawsuit. Lawyers provide the majority of the speaking while presenting their party’s side of the case. Lawyers must follow legal procedures while trying to prove a defendant’s innocence or verify they should be accused of their crime.

Criminal cases involve a defense lawyer which can be state-appointed or hired by the defendant and a prosecutor. The prosecutor attempts to prove guilt while the defense lawyers attempt to prove innocence. In some cases, a jury may be present.

Civil cases do not necessarily require a lawyer, however, if a representation is needed, each party must pay for their own.

Lawyers have certain duties to maintain in court, according to the American Bar association, which include:

  • Not seeking court sanctions
  • Not withholding or delaying the disclosure of information regarding discovery objections
  • Only ask questions appropriate for the prosecution or defense

For the complete list, please see ABA’s Lawyer’s Duties.

The Witnesses

In court, witnesses are those who provide a testimony which includes facts and perspective on the case. Witnesses are asked called to the witness stand where they make their statement and can be examined and cross-examined by both lawyers present. Both sides can have witnesses and the kinds of witnessed may be known as plaintiff’s witnesses, defendant’s witnesses, or government witnesses.

The Jury

In some court hearings, a selected group of people, known as the jury, may be present in the courtroom to determine the outcome of the trial. The jury is responsible for listening to and understanding the facts. Afterward, they must apply the law which has been instructed by the judge prior to the hearing. If the facts are conflicting or confusing, the jury must decide together the truth and reach a verdict. Court hearings can get very complicated and jurors have to decide who is telling the truth and make a decision that’ll have a dramatic effect on someone’s life.

A Judge

Playing the most important role in the courtroom is the judge. Judges are responsible for the following tasks:

  1. Presiding over the hearings and maintaining order;
  2. Ensuring that the evidence presented by the parties illegal or not;
  3. Educating jurors before a jury trial about the laws that apply to the case and the conditions they must follow to assist them in making a decision about the facts they hear in court;
  4. Listening to the facts during bench trials to determine what are the facts and decide the outcome of the case;
  5. Convicting defendants in criminal cases.

Courtroom Interpreter

In cases where one or both parties cannot speak or understand English, a courtroom interpreter may be required. Courtroom interpreters will assist with the translation of a testimony which will be included in the court’s records. This is a challenge position since details can be lost in translation. Therefore, interpreters must be precise and only interpret exactly what is said by the witness or defendant. This means, if someone is lying, they must continue with the translation and not make any alterations whatsoever. Doing so can lead to a mistrial and other consequences.

Courtroom Reporter

The courtroom reporter is responsible for recording everything that is said and the evidence that is introduced during the hearings. Reporters use a machine called a stenograph to type information or they can create a recording. After the trail, this recorded information becomes the official record. Courtroom reporters will be responsible for creating a written transcript if either of the parties seeks to appeal the decision made in court. Occasionally, reporters may visit lawyerès offices to record depositions and conferences for judges.

Note: Stenographs are more commonly used by courtroom reporters. This machine uses symbolic keystrokes based on the spoken word. These machines can record upwards of 300 words per minute. Electronic sound recordings will use a special microphone placed within the courtroom. Both recording methods require a written transcript of the hearings afterward.

Courtroom Clerks

Court clerks are responsible for administering the oaths made by witnesses, interpreters, and parties. In addition, these clerks work within the courtroom to take care of records, authenticate copies of court documents, keeps minutes of the hearings, as well as prepare judgment and verdict forms. Courtroom clerks are essentially the judge’s assistant throughout the trial.

Courtroom Officer

Inside most courtrooms will be an officer responsible for security. These are the law enforcement personnel in the case that a hearing gets out of hand and the must maintain order.

Who Works for the Court?

Of all the people inside the courtroom, only jurors, judges, reporters, clerks, and officers work for the court system. Lawyers will work for themselves or their law firm and require fees to receive support or legal advice.

Top 7 Law Firm Accounting Software For Lawyers

Accounting programs for lawyers make your legal services run more effectively and efficiently. There are many accounting programs available and most are designed to improve time management, billing, accounting, and case management.

To save you time, here is a review of the top 7 law firm accounting software designed specifically for lawyers. Hopefully, you will find the best software program that is the right fit for your legal services.

#1: Clio

Clio’s focus is to reduce the number of time lawyers spend on administrative tasks. The best part about Clio is that you only need to pay for the monthly subscription. After you subscribe, you won’t need a network administrator to maintain the software and you can run it on your PC or mobile device.

In regards to security, Clio’s cloud-based allows you to store sensitive information on your computer while being accessible to you anywhere.

Clio is one of the most simple accounting software programs for lawyers by handling all your basic administrative tasks while on the go.

Features:  

  • Matter Management
  • Time Tracking
  • Billing
  • Client Payments
  • Legal Accounting
  • Calendar
  • Lead Tracking
  • Document Management

Pricing starts at $39 per month and you can get started with a trial using just your email.

#2: Xero

Xero has been rising in popularity in recent years and has been in competition with QuickBooks (#5 on this list).

Xero features an easy-to-use software service because it is entirely web hosted. There is no downloads or installations required. You can access your accounting information from any device and all browsers (Google, Firefox, Windows, etc.).

With a subscription to Xero, you can add unlimited users to manage your accounting. There is no additional fee for users which is common in other accounting software services on this list.

The highlighting feature of Xero is that is most useful for small law firms and includes comprehensive user guides as well as responsible customer support.

Features: 

  • Payroll Management
  • Unlimited Users
  • Expense Tracking
  • Invoicing and Billing
  • Customizable Reports
  • W2’s and 1099’s
  • Direct Deposit

Xero’s starter plan limits you to 5 bills and 20 bank transactions. However, you can try their software free for 30 days.

#3: Bill4Time

Bill4Time is a dedicated billing software solution for lawyers. They focus on providing law firms with the ability to create professional invoices quickly and easily.

Clients will have the option to pay online which will be tracked and recorded on the dashboard. Bill4Time accepts Paypal, Stripe, and all major credit cards. From a billing perspective, Bill4Time makes client billing seamless.

Features:

  • Client Billing
  • Time Tracking
  • Invoice Templates
  • Client and Account Management
  • Reporting
  • Online Payments
  • Expense Tracking
  • Mobile Apps

Bill4Time’s starting price is focused on solo law practitioners with more options for those running a law firm with multiple partners. You can also sign up to try Bill4Time for 30 days.

#4: Legal Files

Legal Files provides case management and matter management solutions to improve a law firm’s legal management needs.

Legal Files is commonly used by corporate legal departments, law firms, university legal departments, insurance companies, and various levels of government.

Its features allow lawyers to manage their cases, emails, documents and contracts, contact information, e-billing, and invoicing. Legal Files’ key feature is that it allows lawyers to automate their office workflow to free up time for lawyer’s to dedicate to their clients.

Features:  

  • Corporate Matter Management
  • Government Case Management
  • University Matter Management
  • Insurance Litigation Management
  • Contract Management
  • Law Firm Case Management
  • Investigation Management
  • Legal Aid Case Management

Legal Files offers pricing licensing packages with a one-time payment. You’ll have to contact the company for more information on a package that suits your firm.

#5: QuickBooks

QuickBooks made the list because it provides a powerful accounting software solution for every industry. It has detailed reporting metrics allowing you to capture the costs of all your firm’s activities. From gas mileage to expenses to payroll, QuickBooks does it all.

QuickBooks for its well-rounded accounting solutions and robust set of features. They have an as strong reputation and have been in operations since 1983.

While the capabilities of using QuickBooks and all its add-ons may seem overwhelming, their user interface and customer support make integration into your law firm’s accounting needs simple and straightforward.

Features:  

  • Cash Flow Control
  • Expense Organization
  • Spending Automation
  • Custom Invoicing
  • Easy Payment Solutions
  • One-click Reporting
  • Multiple-user Access
  • Payroll Solutions
  • Taxing

QuickBooks has some of the most affordable pricing plans for their accounting software. You can save 50% by purchasing right away or start with a trial for 30 days. There are also additional add-ons such as Enhanced Payroll ($19/month) and Full-Service Payroll ($49/month) available for the Simple Start, Essentials and Plus plans.

#6: PCLaw by LexisNexis

PCLaw by LexisNexis is a trusted software management solution used by over 15 000 law firms. It offers complete control over your billing and lets you charge for the time effectively.

PCLaw is a robust accounting software for lawyers and is streamlined toward accurate billing through their Time Entry Advisor.

Installing PCLaw just takes minutes and all upgrades are managed within your maintenance plan. For a worry-free, lawyerfocused accounting software, PCLaw would be a great choice.

Features:  

  • Accurate Time Tracking
  • User-Friendly Interface
  • Billable Hours Tracking
  • Accounts Payable, Receivable, and Banking
  • Financial Reporting
  • Trust Accounting
  • Advanced Security Settings
  • Visual Analytics

#7: ProLaw by Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is a dedicated and trusted intelligence technology company that has developed ProLaw specifically for lawyer’s accounting needs.

This accounting software is suitable for mid- to large sized law firms. Their suite of accounting solutions provides expense management along with mobile tracking for lawyers who spend time working on cases remotely.

Like other law firm accounting software on this list, ProLaw offers custom invoicing, accurate tracking, and document management. The program is more sophisticated than others here but their training modules and both online and email support provide you with the help you need to get set up.

Features:  

  • Case and Matter Management
  • Secured Data Storage
  • Financial Reporting (1099s, Budget, Billing, etc.)
  • Cost Recovery
  • Expense Tracking
  • Calendaring & Docking
  • General Ledger
  • Online Bill Payments
  • Billing and Invoicing
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Accounts Billable and Receivable

To start using ProLaw, you’ll have to contact their sales team for a quote.

Lawyers On Demand: The Future of Legal Services?

Could this the future of legal services? A future of lawyers on demand which allows people to choose from a pool of legal talent, at affordable rates, whenever legal advice is needed.

Although the traditions in law run deep, there is a trending new opportunity for those pursuing a legal career. Instead of working at a law firm, working insane hours, and having a portion of your earnings going into the owners’ pockets, you can become a freelance lawyer, working on demand.

Will Lawyers Quit Working At Firms?

Law firms dedicate considerable time and resources training their associates toward full-fledged lawyers. The hours can be long and additional work may be completed outside of office hours.

Becoming a freelance lawyer offers an alternative lifestyle to the traditional hard working demands placed on lawyers at a firm. Freelance lawyers have the ability to decide their working hours. It allows more freedom and flexibility for scheduling, operating a side business, or spending more time with loved ones.

Some freelance lawyers may opt to take a few months off to travel and pursue other lifestyles. Creating a work-life balance is a lucrative choice for young adults seeking to enjoy their adulthood even while developing their career in law.

Are All Freelance Lawyers Qualified?

While it can be easy to distinguish the reputation of a law firm, some prospective clients may be hesitant to work with freelance lawyers. Not knowing whether a lawyer is fresh out of school or was let go from a firm for malpractice may defer people from choosing freelancers.

However, in most cases, freelance lawyers are those that have had experience working at a firm and choose to take their career in law down a different path. Experiences will certainly vary from lawyer to lawyer, however, there are certain standards that all lawyers must follow in order to practice law.

Freelancer lawyers have the opportunity to be more selective with the caseloads and time management. These lawyers can maintain a high level of quality for their services by focusing on providing exceptional client experiences in order to attain future work and referrals.

Benefits of Freelancing

Take a look at how both lawyers and clients can benefit from freelancing:

Lawyer Benefits:

  • More freedom
  • Flexible schedule
  • Higher earning potential
  • Offer higher value work
  • Work on more unique clients and cases
  • Build expertise in the desired niche

Client Benefits:

  • Access to lawyers on demand
  • Affordable rates
  • Reduce overhead costs
  • Cost-effective alternative to in-house lawyers
  • Ability to hire experts in a specific area

Freelancing lawyers have the ability to offer convenient services for short-term and occasional clients. It offers clients an alternative to expensive lawyer fees from a reputable law firm while maintaining the quality of service.

Many law firms are also recognizing the benefits of hiring freelance lawyers on a case-by-case scenario. Law firms can reduce their overhead costs by avoiding fees for health plans, holiday pay, and maternity leave.

Freelance Lawyers vs. Solo Practitioners

It would be wrong to assume that solo practitioners of law are the same as freelance lawyers. In most cases, the difference between the two includes the following:

  1. Clients. Solo practitioners often work from an office and offer legal advice to their clients. Often, freelance lawyers do not provide any form of legal advice unless working on cases with other lawyers, law firms or administrative legal departments.
  2. Hours. For a sole practitioner, working hours can be long and unforgiving. It is common for lawyers to send invoices for 40 to 50 hours worth of work even though they required an additional 5 to 15 hours after hours. Freelancers have much more freedom and can plan in advance which days to take off and enjoy for themselves.
  3. Type of Work. Since freelancer lawyers have the freedom and flexibility to define their services and choose their clients, they can find themselves working for unique and challenging clients. Since freelancers offer more of the time to companies and other law firms, there tend to be fewer worries about dealing with emotionally taxing non-lawyer clients. Lawyers seeking to work more directly with the law and reduce the amount of emotionally draining counseling-like experiences with clients would certainly prefer freelancing.
  4. Flexibility. Solo practitioner typically works from an office. This requires them to purchase office equipment, hire assistants or clerks, and maintain their office space. Freelance lawyers often don’t have this. Instead, freelance lawyers can use a range of locations and technologies to meet and connect with their clients.

Choosing to become either a freelance lawyer or a solo practitioner comes down to who you are as a lawyer. If you know how to manage your time and wish to have extra hours for yourself, freelancing is the way to go. In contrast, if you’re the type of person who enjoys a structured lifestyle that is motivated by a high-stress working style, focus on becoming a solo practitioner.

Freelance Platforms for Lawyers

There are a variety of online sources providing freelance lawyers access to prospective clients. Axiom, Vario, Lawyers on Demand provide unique matches for clients seeking flexible lawyers for their situations.

  • Axiom – The main feature that Axiom offers is a platform for freelance lawyers to create a profile and showcase their legal services to prospective clients. They offer temporary in-house services to clients who can hand-pick their own lawyers. Axiom currently has over 1200+ lawyers available provide services for real estate, litigation, intellectual property, employment and benefits, derivatives, finance and more. Axiom also offers global reach to assist with international businesses and clients.
  • Vario – This freelancing platform for lawyers offers flexible legal support for law firms, in-house companies, and individual clients seeking support. They focus on alleviating their client’s stress, reduce costs, and provide measurable results. Vario understands that the world is changing and remote work has become a staple in today’s working environments. They work directly with lawyers to uncover exactly what a lawyer wants to do and how to do it.
  • Lawyers on Demand – Here you’ll find services dedicated to those who want an in-house team or hired help at a law firm. All freelancers at Lawyers on Demand are carefully screened for quality and talent. They work with lawyers ranging in all areas of specialization to provide access to legal support for anyone looking for a lawyer. As of now, there are over 600 lawyers and consultants available to support prospective clients.

Life After Law School: What New Lawyer’s Need To Know

You’re one of many who have spent years in school studying the intricacies of law and spending thousands of dollars to get to the bar exam. Then, after all that hard work, what’s life like after law school?

You may have ambitions to become the best state lawyer or you may simply want to become a partner at a local firm. Whatever path you choose to go on, here you’ll get a glimpse of life after law school.

Competing for a Place in Law

There are only so many big law firm’s offering high paying positions. Often these firms are selecting the top of class from the world’s best law schools.

If you’re unfamiliar with these school, every year the National Law Journal (NLJ) publishes a report on which schools are sending their graduates to practice biglaw. Here is their list of the top 5 schools:

  1. Columbia Law School
  2. University Pennsylvania Law School
  3. University of Chicago Law School
  4. Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  5. Duke Law School

To see the entire list from NLJ, go here.

If didn’t attend one of the top schools listed above, there are still many choices available in your career of law. Some graduates choose to become an intern or start a clerkship to gain the experience and expertise to practice law at a higher, more competitive level.

Some internships offer a paid position and clerkships are done alongside a judge. Taking this route after law school can provide you with insight into how the law is practiced within the courtroom and prepare you for other aspects of the law.

Other options include continuing to study law at a doctorate level and obtaining a degree such as:

  • Juris Master – M.S.
  • Master of Laws – L.L.M.
  • Doctor of Judicial Science – S.J.D.
  • Doctor of Comparative Law – D.C.L.

Each of these educational routes will add an additional year or two of study. However, the investment can be well worth the time and can lead to a better paying lawyer salary.

Life as an Associate

Traditional law firms use to function using a two-tier system for lawyers which included: associates and partners. An associate would be expected to work at the firm for almost a decade before being considered a partner. If you became a partner, you would be given equity and given a share of the firm’s profits.

Before the 1980s, many associates would stay with one law firm working hard to become a partner. However, when American Lawyer, a monthly magazine dedicated to lawyers, published a listing of the country’s profits per partner at the largest firms, the working world of law began to change.

Now, it is likely that both associates and partners will work at multiple firms, for both experience and profit, over the duration of their career. Life after law school can be extremely stressful for newly appointed associates that have high debt while dealing with a heavy workload.

However, as an associate, you will have the freedom to explore the area of law that interests you. As well, responsibilities like court appearances, client consultations, and depositions will gradually increase after the first year of practice. You may even be expected to continue educating yourself about your area of practice as you work at your firm. This is a part of the grooming process if you plan to stick around and become a partner.

Becoming A Partner

Although the path to partnership differs from firm to firm, most associates seek to become an equity partner and receive a portion of the profits.

Before becoming a partner, you may first become a senior associate and then a non-equity partner. Both advancements will receive a higher salary and significantly more responsibility. However, when becoming an equity partner, there is also an added level of liability which makes you responsible for keeping the law firm profitable for years to come.

You will likely not become a partner straight out of law school, however taking this big step in your career provides guaranteed employment and becoming a partial owner of the firm.

For more about becoming a partner, go here.

Alternative Paths to Law

Depending on your situation and your experiences out of law school, you may decide that working law firm as an employee is not fit for you. The years, dedication, and hard work may seem too far away to yield the career path you dreamed about while studying for the bar.

An alternative path to becoming an associate and waiting to become a partner may be starting your own law firm.

There are a few things to consider if starting your own law firm is the path for you:

  • Registering your business (i.e. LLC, Sole-proprietorship, etc.)
  • Establishing your presence in your community
  • Developing a website for your law firm
  • Marketing your legal services
  • Finding new clients
  • Avoiding malpractice

If you’re thinking about starting your own law firm, here are a few articles to guide you toward developing a successful legal career:

Getting Your Law firm Started

Having A Website For Your Lawfirm

Marketing Your Law firm

Understand Risk

Software to Improve Your Law Firm’s Efficiency:

What Are Career Advancement Opportunities for Lawyers?

Are you wondering how to fast track your career in law? While there may be numerous career advancement opportunities for lawyers, knowing which ones to take can define a satisfying and lasting career in law.

To guide your decision making along with your career as a lawyer, here are a few highlights and considerations to keep in mind.

Classic Career Path for Lawyers

The common path for lawyers finishing their graduate studies and search for a firm to get hired will typically start as an associate working with other experienced lawyers. After a few years, some lawyers may be offered to become a partner of the firm.

Becoming a partner entitled lawyers with partial ownership over the law firm, additional responsibilities, and greater liabilities. Depending on the amount of time with the firm, partners came receive further career advancements such as becoming an executive partner or a managing partner.

Depending on a lawyer’s area of specialization, there may be opportunities to take on greater roles and responsibilities.

With the increasing amount of students graduating from law school each year with limited number careers available, competition is fierce. Lawyers who can’t maintain their positions as a partner may experience the “up and out.” This is when partners are forced to leave the firm because they were not able to contribute to the profitability of the firm.

Overall, this makes high-paying legal positions at prestigious firms extremely competitive. The selection process for these firms will often be limited to experiences and students graduating from specific schools.

However, those who do not obtain their ideal career as an associate at their law firm of choice can opt for alternative law careers.

Alternative Opportunities for Lawyers

After studying law for so many years, becoming an associate at a law firm is not the only option. Instead, law students can continue their education and pursue masters and doctorate degrees in areas specific to an area of specialization.

Pursuing an academic legal career can lead to a full-time position as a faculty member at a law school. Administrative and other teaching opportunities can also be found.

In addition, some lawyers may choose an internship. Internships offer freshly graduated law students with a chance to receive real experience while working with judges and other professional legal workers.

Another option may be to work for a corporation. While this is not a common path, some of the bigger corporations require a team of lawyers and legal support to keep their operations running smoothly.

Here is a suggestive list of alternative careers for lawyers:

  • In-house counsel for corporations/companies
  • Paralegal workers
  • Government lawyer
  • NPO / NGO lawyer
  • Real estate broker
  • Freelance attorney
  • Legal recruiter
  • Journalist
  • Politics
  • Insurance

Self-Employed Lawyers

Lawyers account for almost 800,000 jobs in America. The following is where those lawyers are employed:

Legal services (i.e. law firms) 48%
Self-employed lawyers 20%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 7%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 6%
Federal government 5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

Some lawyers who have worked with professional law firms and choose not to become a partner may pursue to form their own law firm. As seen in the chart above, 20% of all lawyers are self-employed.

Those who choose this career path can succeed by establishing a strong marketing plan and business strategy. Seeing their legal services as a business is a vital understanding of how to survive when competing against other self-established and long-lasting law firms.

Self-employed lawyers may place a heavy burden on solo lawyers who can’t afford to hire an assistant or secretary. However, some software products have been made available to handle various tasks such as accounting, invoicing, and other matter.

Other ways for self-employed lawyers to survive their first year as a lawyer would be to get a website, start a blog, and use paid advertisements.

Career Prospects for Lawyers

According to MyFuture, employment rates for lawyers are expected to grow 6% from 2014 to 2024. This prediction is based on the anticipated growth of other occupations in the United States which will increase demands for legal services. Individuals, businesses, and various levels of government will need legal assistance to support this growth and new demands.

Due to this increase in demand, the cost for legal services may consequently increase as well. This may cause law firms to reevaluate their staffing requirements and opting for law management software may prove to become a cost-effective solution.

Other methods to reduce costs while remaining competitive may lead to lawyers outsourcing their staffing to low-cost agencies. In addition, routine work can now be automated with various document programs dedicated to lawyers.

10 Tips To Avoid Legal Malpractice For Lawyers

Although lawyers fight to protect their client’s interests,  it is equally important to protect themselves from legal malpractice. Lawyer-client communication is one of the biggest factors that lead to situations where clients turn on their lawyers. Others include time management and not meeting deadlines.

Regardless of the reasons behind the claim, there are a few things lawyers can do to avoid legal malpractice.

  1. Require a retainer. To avoid losing funds request money in advance for your services (you can set up an automated accounting system to remind you when your trust fund is running low). Whenever a client fails to replenish the retainer, stop working. Your services are based on the hours you put in for the client which they have to pay for. By establishing this strict guideline, it holds you accountable for your services and reduces problems with collecting payments later on.
  2. Have a written contract. When you’re consulting a new client, be sure to provide them with your core services in writing. Include in this document information about your retainer, terms of service, and clearly define what you are obligated to do under the retainment.
  3. Document diligently. While it will be impossible to document every detail regarding your matter, putting a consistent effort toward documenting your interactions with clients can reduce legal consequences should your client sue. Letters may be effective, however having emails, notes, and documents with time-entries can be most effective. If you’re providing advice regarding serious issues due to drastic situations, you may want to consider recording this information. If for any reasons a client confuses your words and questions what you said, you can look back on your documentation to provide clarity and avoid malpractice.
  4. Get to know your client. This point should be number 1: know who your clients are. If you’ve established your law firm as a limited liability company (LLC) you’ll have to clearly distinguish between your responsibilities, your interactions with your client, and the relationship with the firm. You may have to state in clear terms that you are only a representative of the firm and what that means between you and your client.
  5. Never miss a deadline. For new lawyers, they can be most challenging if you underestimate your workflow and time management. Setting realistic deadlines and completing tasks ahead of schedule can avoid conflicts with your clients. Remember, when you deliver earlier than the client expects, the results tend to lead to a satisfied client.
  6. Avoid suing your clients for fees. Although you may have the documentation and support to provide a claim against your client, pushing a lawsuit on a client to collect fees can backfire. If you sure your client, they’ll likely review their own documentation and experience then find a way to countersue for malpractice (i.e. implying that was the reason they stopped paying in the first place). Even if you are insured, some insurance policies are exempted from protecting you from malpractice claims if you are suing your clients for missed fees.
  7. Refer clients to others. It can be tempting to take on clients in an area you are not familiar with if you are experiencing financial pressures. The best thing to do is to build your network and refer such clients to close connections to avoid misrepresenting a case that may be too much to handle. In the long run, building relations with other lawyers and firms can lead to referred clients coming back to you.
  8. Understand the ethical rules. This applies especially to conducting online marketing and other web related tasks. The ABA has ethical rules that all lawyers are expected to follow. While the rules themselves may not be black and white, understanding what you can and cannot do online can help you avoid problems should sensitive information be leaked or clients have a bad experience with some of your outsourced legal staff.
  9. Connect with your client. It is important to know your client, especially when detailing the contract for your services, but it is just as important to build rapport. Are you operating a profession or running a business? While it can be enticing to provide legal services to earn a salary, there comes a line between working for money and working for people. If your clients are just a means of making money to enjoy your lavish, rich lifestyle, it shouldn’t be a surprise that malpractice lawsuits continue to come in.
  10. Get malpractice insurance. In the worst case scenario, having malpractice insurance can protect you. Malpractice insurance policies vary from provider to provide so you should review carefully the terms and protective benefits before choosing the right policy. Here’s more information about malpractice insurance for lawyers.

These are just 10 points to avoid malpractice at your law firm. If your focus is providing exceptional legal services, build connected relationships with your clients, while providing fair fees, getting sued should be the least of your worries.

Dress Code For Lawyers

Lawyers are traditionally known to wear tailored suits to look professional for their daily responsibilities. However, recent trends in fashion have seen some lawyers working in their offices wearing casual attire.

If you’re unsure what to wear to the firm or you’re looking for a change of appearance, here’s a brief overview of dress codes for lawyers.

Dress Code for Male Lawyers

Lawyers spend a significant amount of time in office with occasional appearances in court and other public locations (i.e. interviews with clients, research at a library, etc.). There are two dress codes for lawyers which call for either a formal business attire or something more casual.

  • Formal Business Dress Code: Lawyers should wear a white dress shirt which a neutral collared tie beneath their tailored suit. Common suit colors include gray or navy (note: wearing black is known to represent funerals which are advised to avoid in the courtroom environment). This lawyer’s dress code is meant for court appearances, interviews, meetings with clients, and other business-related activities.
  • Casual Business Dress Code: Here, lawyers can skip the tie and discard the suit to wear something less formal. Wearing a golf shirt or attractive sports shirt with casual trousers or khakis is acceptable. Having a sports jacket, cotton sweater, or a vest can also be a suitable addition. These outfits are common for less formal events and gatherings.

Lawyers should remember to wear appropriate shoes. Leather dress shoes are the legal industry’s standard that can be paired with black, brown, dark gray, or navy socks depending on the suit color. Loafers may also be acceptable in casual days. Here you can read more about shoes for lawyers.

Dress Code for Female Lawyers

The dress code for female lawyers is a bit more complex. In the history of legal work, women were predominantly providing legal support and not working on legal cases. However, recent years has seen an increase in female lawyers which has led to some controversy over what a woman should and should not be wearing.

Regardless of the situation, whether it is a casual event or a formal court hearing, there are some articles of clothing that female lawyers should never wear. These garments are often forbidden by a law firm’s dress code and they include:

  • Tight fitting and low cut tops of any kind
  • Shirts with straps, open backs, halter tops, etc.
  • Stretch pants, yoga style pants, etc.
  • Miniskirts and capris that end above the knee

As a general rule of thumb, female lawyers should avoid showing any cleavage and revealing too much leg.

To keep things simple, females should follow similar guidelines that define male lawyer’s dress codes. Expect to wear suits in similar styles and made to fit in a similar fashion as men. However, as an alternative, some law firms allow for skirts to be worn so long as they are not too short.

Lawyer’s Fashion Worldwide: In Pakistan, the dress code for lawyers is dependent on the seasons. In the summer, lawyers wear a white shirt with a white neck band and trousers. This dress code is strictly enforced in the country.

Overview of Unacceptable Clothing

To help distinguish what can vs. should not be worn, here’s a quick list of unacceptable clothing choices that would breach a lawyer’s dress code:

  • Tight fitting clothing
  • Shorts or jeans
  • Casual, non-collared shirts
  • Sweatshirts, sweat suits, or gym clothes
  • T-shirts
  • Cargo pants
  • Golf shirts emblazoned with logos and images
  • Crazy colors or leopard print
  • Novelty items (i.e. ties, clips, etc.)

General Appearance

Lawyers are expected to be well-groomed when arriving at the office or the courtroom.

In regards to hairstyle, men are expected to maintain shorter hairstyles that are neat and conservative in style. Facial hair is acceptable as long as it is well groomed. Arriving to work with wild long hair or rugged facial hair would be inappropriate.
For women, both long and short hairstyles are acceptable. As long as the style is neat and professional, there won’t be a problem. Arriving with untamed, messy styles or brightly colored hair may cause alarm. Also, some limitations may include having hair longer than their waist and child-like hairstyles.

Accessories

Perhaps this may apply more to women than men, but there are a few dress codes considerations regarding accessories.

For women, jewelry and accessories are acceptable if they are not in excess or too extravagant. Alternatively, wearing cheap jewelry may be frowned upon. Wearing strong perfumes, too much makeup, revealing bra straps or tattoos, and long nails should be avoided.

For men, having professional looking tie clips and pins may be suitable for their attire. Wearing a professional watch would be acceptable. Wearing too much jewelry, excessive cologne, or revealing tattoos should be avoided.

Briefcases

While this is not necessarily lawyer’s attire, briefcases play an important part of a lawyer’s job. Having the right briefcase to carry legal documents and office supplies while working on the go should also follow along with the dress code for lawyers.

Imagine arriving into the courtroom with a briefcase showcasing an image of your favorite superhero fighting crime. For advice on briefcases for lawyers, try this.

Law Firm’s Dress Codes

If you work at a law firm, the dress code detailed may be different from what you read above. Every firm reserves the right to create a dress code for their lawyers to maintain the image and professionalism of the firm. This article is meant to provide a general overview of what lawyers should wear and what to avoid.