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    Mar202015 Articles about Freelance Lawyering

    Well, as you guys can tell, there's been very little that I've done with the Independence Track and the freelance lawyering thing in the past year. That's ok, we all move on. 

    I did want to share a few great articles my friend Alison Monahan wrote about Freelancing (using Independence Track as a basis). Check them out:

    - How to Get Started as a Freelance Attorney

    - How to Get Clients as a Freelance Attorney

    - Pros and Cons of Working as a Freelance Attorney

    That said, I don't imagine I'll be doing much more with the whole Freelancing thing - my Modlin Legal estate planning practice is keeping me busy. But if you ever have any questions for me, please feel free to reach out! 




    The One Who Evolves, Survives and Prospers

    You Won’t Get a Job At PG&E (Most Likely)

    You know that dad in that one movie, portraying the 60s, the 70s, or the 80s? the dad that gets a job at PG&E right after getting his accounting degree, and gets married, and has a baby, and keeps going to PG&E, and the baby gets married, and the dad is still at his PG&E desk?

    Well, that’s not going to be the life for most people. At least for attorneys. The new reality, for many, will be of a solo entrepreneur, a small business owner, a person as a brand.

    Pros and Cons

    Working for yourself, there’s no paid vacation, but vacation time is unlimited. There’s no retirement benefits, but if you love what you do, why do you need to retire? There’s no relocations bonus, but you can work wherever you want, and not just where your employers signed the lease.

    There’s no time to relax, because one must always watch market trends, prospect for new clients, befriend the competition, see and be seen. But in exchange, there’s the excitement, there’s the sense that one is doing “life’s work,” there’s the fulfillment from doing what you want to do, how you want to do it, for whom you want to do it.

    With money – in the beginning you are almost guaranteed to make a lot less than with a job. But with a job, you are guaranteed salary and bonuses. But you are also guaranteed to never make more than what your employer decides your salary plus bonuses. Working for yourself, on the upper limit of your income, there are no guarantees. It’s all up to you.

    Impact on Happiness

    With self-employment, the impact on happiness, at least potentially, is huge, for one reason: working for yourself, you are in charge of your time. And your time is your single most important asset, one that has the highest potential to actually make you happy.

    The reasons why being in charge of your time has the highest probability of making you happy:

    -       Gives you a higher chance of finding what you LOVE to do

    -       Gives you a higher chance of actually doing what you LOVE

    -       Gives you flexibility to not spend all of your time working, even on things you love

    Basically, as a self-employed person, you do what you want. Yes, there are things you need to do – like make money to pay your bills and support your family. But, there are SO MANY WAYS to make money, and, being self-employed, you are not tied to any of them.

    How Do You Make This Happen?

    Look for Opportunities.

    Talk to strangers, whenever you can. Ask what they do. Ask them about their problems, their proposed solutions. The key to a successful business, a real, long-term one, is finding an answer to an actually existing problem (not creating problems which you then proceed to solve).

    Approach Life Critically.

    Plan. Do. Evaluate. Come up with new plan. Do. Evaluate. Come up with new plan to address what you learned from evaluating. It’s an endless cycle, but with every loop around the mountain, your perspective changes, and you learn.

    Never Go On Autopilot.

    Look at life as a whole – which parts of your life do you love? Which you don’t? If you are getting paid for doing something you don’t love – can you get that income for doing something else, ideally something you love more?

    Learn from doing the things you love. What else that’s similar could you do? What if you’d love those things even more?

    Have a Life Plan, Not Just Business Plan.

    The other day I thought, to have more money, I need to have more estate planning clients.

    But I also thought, I’m running more than I’ve ever ran in my life, and I’m a decent cyclist. Why not try to train for a triathlon? Well, for that, I need to swim.

    So, instead of working through lunch, I went to my local community pool to do laps. And in my own lane, met a prospective estate planning client.

    An Example: Modlin Legal Office Center.

    I launched a new business a few days ago. At the Modlin Legal Office Center, for a reasonable monthly fee, attorneys have 24/7 access to professional private offices, as well as a shared work space. This way, they can schedule confidential client meetings, as well as have access to a community of attorneys.

    I came up with this idea from the realization that I have an asset – a wonderful office suite that is far too large for me alone. It’s an asset I want to share, and ideally make money from, because everyone needs money.

    A number of people have offered me a monthly fee in exchange for a full time access to a private office in my suite. That would be the easy, conventional solution. However, in the past weeks, a number of self-employed attorneys have reached out to me, complaining that all the companies offering virtual offices do not give them after-hours access, when the clients really just want to meet after hours.

    Therefore, having been a virtual office customer in the past, and having heard the current complaints of their current clients, I saw a problem – lack of access to professional private offices, not during business hours. And I thought, I have a solution, because I have the offices, and they don’t have to close at 5. And because I like communities, and helping as many people as I can, and generating and receiving referrals from attorneys. Thus, the Modlin Legal Office Center was born.

    In Conclusion.

    So. If you are finding yourself at a crossroads, remember to just move forward, and keep your eyes and ears open. Launch a freelance practice. Talk to a counselor about a career change, or to find out some of your strengths. Contact me for help or more ideas.


    Finding Balance Between Money & Passion

    There are two types of work. The first is the work you need to do now, today, to earn the money to pay the bills tomorrow. I’ll call this “the money work.” 

    The worst version of the “money work” is a corporate job that doesn’t fulfill you, but you go anyway, to afford your lifestyle.

    Better versions of the money work are possible. For me, my money work is my wills and trusts law practice, which I like very much and which is well aligned with my principles. The process at this point is straight forward, and it pays my bills: day after day, it’s profitable, it’s fulfilling, it’s predictable, and well defined.

    Especially for an employee of a large firm or corporation, money work is easy – project after project after project, you do whatever comes across your desk, because it’s here, because it’s immediate, and because your bills are due, and you must get them paid.

    Money work is actually easy to do. The benefits include something to do, and a way to get the bills paid. And having no time, or energy, or perceived need, to think about the other work, the second type of work, which I’ll call “your life’s work.”

    Your life’s work is really an investment in something that is truly aligned with your long-term vision, something that unfortunately may not create money today or maybe not even tomorrow. This second type of work is a creative expression of your soul. And it’s really difficult.

    For me, my life’s work revolves around my passions: the reform of the legal industry, both in terms of the education and the practice of law; and inspiring young attorneys to appreciate all the countless benefits of the new law practice.

    The “life’s work” projects I’m working on are: this blog, the creation of a course to guide new attorneys through launching their freelance law practices, as well as a creation of an office share where new attorneys will be able to pay for what they actually need and use, and have access to a safe, comfortable, efficient, modern office environment.

    For, me, life’s work is really difficult for the following reasons:

    1. It’s really important, so I want to do a really great job. And doing a really great job at anything is very hard.
    2. It is unique – it’s never been done before – or at least in the way I propose to do it. Therefore, the process is highly creative.
    3. In doing this work, I must become vulnerable – I am putting something very important to me out there, to be judged by everyone, qualified or not. And that’s really scary.

    Now, the good news is that once I overcome the aforementioned challenges, life’s work is very pleasant to do, and ultimately easy – as I’m driven by passion.

    The process of transitioning from money work to life’s work involves these steps, and challenges:

    Figuring out that the work you are currently doing is money work, and not life’s work:

    If you figure out you are already doing life’s work – congrats!

     But even if you realize that you are working at your worst nightmare job - this is the awakening, or the rock bottom, or whatever you want to call it. It’s tough, but it’s easy to see it in a positive light, light a birth or a rebirth. Without it, fulfillment is not possible.

    Figuring out what life’s work is:

    If you are stuck, there are many resources. I was recently given Body of Work: Finding The Thread That Ties Your Story Together, by Pamela Slim. You can buy it here:

    If you realize that law is your money work, but your life’s work is outside the law, Casey Berman writes an interesting blog called

    But if you know – or suspect – that law is your life’s work, but you can’t get started, but are unhappy with the fulltime job lifestyle – talk to me. I may be able to help you come up with a more flexible structure.

    Figuring out the balance between your money work and your life's work:

    This is where I’m personally struggling at the moment. Whenever I talk to people about starting law practices, I always advise them, money to pay the bills comes first. It’s a hierarchy of needs – you can’t focus on your life’s work if you have nothing to eat. So that part is easy.

    The harder part is when your basic financial needs are met through your money work, and your money work is tolerable enough to keep doing it. That’s when you have to start making a conscious decision to forego some of the money that you could have brought in through doing more money work (or forego the free time that you have after your fulltime money-work-job is done), and work on your life’s work.

    That part is the toughest, I find. But without putting in the hours, your (my) life will remain filled with dreams of my life’s work, and reality of money work. And I think that long-term, that’s a bad way to live. What do you think?