How to Become a Self-Employed Lawyer

Thousands of lawyers across the United States dream of one day becoming a self-employed lawyer. They grow tired of the fast pace and strict policies that abound in the vast majority of law firms. These men and women want to apply what they know to solve the problems that plague the world and make a considerable amount of money in the process. But individuals do not become self-employer lawyers overnight. They must weigh their options, survey the landscape, and make an informed decision about whether or not becoming a self-employed lawyer is right for them.

Benefits of being a self-employed lawyer

One of the greatest benefits of being a self-employed lawyer is absolute freedom over the cases one chooses. A self-employed lawyer can focus entirely on one particular area of the law that they find most interesting. They can devote themselves to solving problems and working for underrepresented populations. Self-employed lawyers can test new legal theories and take on enormously difficult cases. They can push through the next case that surprisingly makes it all the way to the Supreme Court. These men and women can also decide when to take a break or even when to partially drop their caseloads.

A self-employed lawyer can also avoid the pitfalls associated with working for a law firm. Law firms can be draining on individual lawyers. They can force a person to work long hours and sometimes go days with little to no sleep. In exchange for decent to high salaries, a person gives over many of their most productive years to a law firm. They toil in the hope that they will one day be named partner to the firm and will not have to live the rest of their lives as a junior associate. Self-employment helps a lawyer avoid all of these potential problems. They can be completely removed from the toxic politics and work culture of firms and focus entirely on practicing the law and serving their clients.

Drawbacks: Is It The Right Option for You?

The clearest large drawback to being a self-employed lawyer is that a person has to go through the process of attracting clients all on their own. When a lawyer works for a firm, they can focus solely on the practice of law. The firm does the work of bringing in and managing clients. They often have considerable advertising budgets and a decades-long track record of success to draw in new clients. A self-employed lawyer loses all of these benefits. He or she must start from scratch as they market their product and their own personal expertise. The job is more marketing and sales in the early months than actually practicing law. Once a self-employed lawyer has enough clients to deal with, he or she can then focuses clearly on preparing for cases and providing the best services possible for their clients.

What to do

Anyone who is considering becoming a self-employed lawyer needs to review their current client base. They should identify any clients who will most likely work with them once they go out on their own. An individual should review their experience and the relationships that they have with other lawyers. Then, they should seek out the advice of more experienced professionals. Finally, individuals should closely study the advantage that they would derive from being a self-employed lawyer versus all of the associated costs.

Self-employment for a criminal lawyer can lead to the significant office, phone, and travel costs. Some lawyers will not want to go into debt in order to practice on their own. They may want to wait until they have guaranteed clients before they go out on their own. As a result, lawyers who currently work for a firm should draw up a timetable that dictates when they will make decisions about leaving and when they will eventually leave.


Becoming a self-employed criminal lawyer is not the best choice for some individuals. They benefit from the structure and simplicity of a law firm. But for the vast majority of people, working for a law firm is controlling and domineering. It prevents them from reaching the goals that they set for themselves when they decided to begin the arduous process of law school. Self-employment is the true approach that leads them to reach their full potential as a member of this austere profession.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

This article was written by Victoria Heckstall.

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