More and more lawyers are considering a freelance career. With increased flexibility and control over their working hours, the appeal is clear. However, it is a very different world from that of an employed lawyer. Before taking the leap it is worth considering what life is actually like as a freelancer. Below are 5 key considerations:
1) Setting your own hours
Going freelance can give you a lot of freedom. You work when you want and where you want, which means you can continue earning while developing other interests or fitting your work around your personal life. But there is a flip side to this- the fact you can work at any time means it can be harder to "clock off" and in some ways you can feel you are on call 24-7. If you work from home it can be hard to separate the two and you need to be mindful of this.
2) Money matters
Since you are not employed you do not get a set salary. This means your earning potential can be limitless and you can set your own pay level. But it is a less secure career path since the amount of work you have will vary from month to month and so will your income. You also need to take into account that you will no longer have paid leave for holidays or sick leave and you won't be getting a pension so you need to ensure you have funds to see you through these periods. As an employee, matters such as national insurance and tax are dealt with automatically by your employer, whereas as a freelancer you need to organise this aspect yourself.
3) Flying solo
As a freelancer you can get a better work-life balance and enjoy a wider variety of work and can have a larger range of clients. However, working on your own away from an office environment can be challenging and, in some ways, lonely if you are used to having colleagues to talk to. Scott-Moncrieff offers regular unit meetings and our freelance lawyers meet at socials to help support freelancers in this way.
4) Organisation is key
Since you don't have a boss, set your own hours, and don't even need to go into an office you have to make sure you are organised and self-disciplined. You need to structure yourself so you are meeting your deadlines and staying on top of your work, which will often come from several different clients at the same time. You need to be able to work out how much availability you have on offer and to be able to say "no" to offers of work that are not suitable- be that for time or your area of expertise.
5) Moving on up
As an employee there is usually a set career path. This is not the case for the freelancer. There is no glass ceiling but there is also no obvious promotion route. Self- expansion is the way that you can grow your business and this is a very different route to promotion.
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