Becoming a Self-Employed Lawyer or Solicitor
When working as a lawyer or solicitor, your career can be extremely demanding, long hours and a lack of control over your schedule are just some of the reasons.
As a self-employed lawyer or solicitor working on a freelance basis, you are in control of the hours you work and the cases you take.
As a lawyer or solicitor, there are countless different areas that you can specialise in, ranging from personal injury to divorce.
In recent years, a number of both new and established law firms have opted to offer solicitors the chance to become self-employed and choose when, how often and even where they work. This is an approach that is becoming increasingly popular and these firms still provide legal services in the same way as more traditional firms, but their structure behind the scenes is very different.
There are countless benefits of going self-employed, not only the work flexibility but also the opportunity to increase your take-home pay. Our easy-to-use take-home pay calculator can give you an estimate of how much you could take home as a self-employed worker in a matter of seconds.
Qualifications to become a self-employed lawyer or solicitor
It takes years of study to become a fully qualified lawyer or solicitor. There are a number of different ways to become qualified, but the most conventional route is to start by undertaking a law degree at university. It’s important to find a degree course that is approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to ensure that it is recognised by the industry and you have the best possible chance of obtaining work once you complete your studies.
Once you have obtained your degree, you need to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC). This will help you to develop the skills you need to work in practice and build on the theoretical knowledge that you would have gained at university. The SRA will be able to help you with registering for the course.
The final stage in the qualification process to become a solicitor is to undertake a “training contract.” During this process you will work as a trainee at a firm of solicitors (or any other authorised organisation), usually for two years, to gain practical work experience in the industry.
Finding work as a self-employed lawyer or solicitor
There are two ways to operate as a self-employed lawyer or solicitor. You could work on a freelance basis for a practice or set up your own firm.
If you prefer the former, with many companies moving towards hiring self-employed workers, you’ll be able to find a number of vacancies advertised on job boards and law websites.
However, if you have a vast amount of experience and are thinking about setting up your own practice, there are a number of other things you’ll need to consider to generate business.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can find work for your practice:
- Create a professional website – One of the first places that people go when they want to find a solicitor is the internet. They’ll type their query into a search engine and be presented with hundreds of companies. As a result it is essential that you have a professional website that is search engine friendly so that your company appears near the top of the list.
- Register with the Law Society – Any solicitor worth their salt is accredited by the Law Society. It conveys an element of trust to clients, something that is essential when hiring a solicitor so be sure to contact the Law Society and establish how you can become accredited.
- Join a network – Particularly in the field of personal injury, a popular method of finding more clients is to join a network fronted by a powerful brand. For example, First Personal Injury is a network which solicitors pay a monthly fee to be a part of and in return leads generated by the network are passed on to the member solicitors.
When making the decision to become a self-employed lawyer or solicitor you’ll need to think about whether to go sole trader or limited and find a good accountant to provide you with tax and accountancy advice.
One of the most daunting things about becoming self-employed is keeping on top of your taxes. A good accountant can take care of all of your business and personal taxation needs, and provide you with advice throughout the year to ensure that you are operating as tax-efficiently as possible.
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