Even in such a highly competitive field, the opportunity for individuals with a paralegal degree to operate on a freelance basis is a popular choice for recent graduates. Learn about the ins and outs of pursuing a freelance opportunity in this exciting field.
Paralegals are an important part of the legal system. They can do pretty much anything a lawyer can except give legal advice. The profession started in the 1960s as a way to help people at all economic levels gain access to the legal system. Paralegals manage criminal cases, conduct legal research, draft legal documents and provide support to attorneys. Law firms, corporations or government agencies, directly employ many paralegals but there is another path; some paralegals choose to freelance.
What is a freelance paralegal?
A freelance paralegal is a trained professional that is not employed by a single law firm or corporation. Freelance paralegals work for themselves as an independent contractor or with a group of other freelancers in an agency type setting.
Advantages vs disadvantages
Freelance paralegals enjoy control over their own workload and schedule. If you choose to freelance you’ll really be taking your career into your own hands. As a freelance paralegal you are in charge of finding clients, which means your income is heavily dependent on your ability to sell your skills. So, if you’re someone who needs stability and the security of a consistent paycheck becoming a freelance paralegal may not be a good fit. But, someone with an entrepreneurial spirit will find a match with the world of freelance. Working outside of a law firm means that you will also have a better chance at striking a work/life balance and find opportunities to work on projects of interest to you.
How to become a freelance paralegal
1.Get Paralegal Training
To become a freelance paralegal you need strong training and one of the best ways to get that training is to earn a degree. A degree program will introduce courses on legal research, legal document preparation, and an introduction to the legal system. You can earn a paralegal degree online or through a campus based program but be sure the program you choose has courses that underscore ethical considerations for legal professionals as prescribed by the American Bar Association and the National Federation for Paralegal Associates. Additionally courses should emphasize soft skills development like adaptability, critical thinking, organizational skills and written and verbal communication skills, as these will all be critical to your freelance paralegal career.
2. Get Paralegal Experience
Becoming a freelance paralegal can be difficult for new graduates. Getting work is largely dependent on having a network to go to and offer your services. If you are new to the workforce you may not have built up a list of law firms and companies yet and getting your foot in the door could be a challenge. Plus, once you do get your foot in the door a potential client will likely choose where or not to hire you based on your past experiences and class projects may not be enough to land the job. These are great reasons for new graduates to get a few years of experience inside a law firm or company before breaking out on your own.
As you start your paralegal degree
keep the option of becoming a freelance paralegal in mind. You might not be able to jump into the field right away but it’s a good option for anyone who likes to build relationships with people and wants to be their own boss!