Become a Freelance Legal Writer: The Details
Not everyone is in tune with the ins and outs of legal speak. Even reading a general contact can be confusing if you aren’t accustomed to it. However, if drafting up agreements and writing contacts is your bread and butter, you can be the one to help.
Many businesses and individuals need freelance legal writers to create documents or web content.
The best part?
It’s a flexible position that you can do from anywhere. If this sounds like what you want, here are the details for becoming a freelance legal writer.
What is a Freelance Legal Writer?
There are so many different types of freelance writers out there. If you already have years of experience in the legal field, becoming a freelance legal writer is a great way to flex your skills and make a substantial income.
So what exactly is a full-time freelance legal writer?
A full-time legal writer creates documents with legal terminology for businesses, professionals, and members of the public or creates pieces of writing for the legal industry.
A freelance legal writer will do this job independently, outside of a firm or company. Whether you’ve worked at a law firm, as a legal assistant, paralegal, or a lawyer, opportunities to become a legal writer are available. You don’t have to be a former lawyer to be an amazing legal writer either.
Some perks come with being a freelance legal writer.
Advantages of Going Freelance as a Legal Writer
When you transition away from a law firm, you have the freedom to set your schedule. Work when you want to and when it’s convenient for you. If you have a family or are getting a degree, this can help keep your schedule incredibly flexible. You can decide to work full-time or even part-time as a freelance writer.
As a freelancer, you can work from anywhere. You don’t have to wear a suit and go to an office every day. As long as you have a strong Wi-Fi connection and a place to focus, you can work from home or halfway across the world.
Types of Freelance Legal Writers
As someone that works in the legal industry, you understand that every lawyer has a different specialty (e.g., personal injury, tax, or employment law). This is similar to freelance legal writers. Every writer will have a different field of interest or expertise that they can use to push their craft.
Here are some of the different types of freelance legal writers:
- Corporate writers
- Brief writers
- Web, blog, copywriters
- Feature writer
- Legal correspondents
Each freelance writer will create content based on their client’s needs.
If you have business experience and understand large organizations and their legal needs, you may want to get into corporate writing. You can explore web content for legal blogs or companies if you want to be a little more creative.
Freelance Legal Writer Skills
Going off on your own as a freelancer can be intimidating, but the good news is the work isn’t much different from the experience you may already have.
Since you’ve already been doing legal writing, you know what it takes to become a great legal writer ready to take on projects. You now have to explore how to take those skills and turn them into a successful freelancing career.
Here are some tips to help you build your freelance legal writer career.
Polish Up Your Technical Writing Skills
Legal writing is all about being technical, concise, and detail-oriented. If you’ve worked at a law firm or are already a legal writer, you know how important it is to use the correct language in your writing. If you want to become a strong and successful freelancer, it will benefit you to brush up on those technical writing skills.
There are a couple of ways that you can perfect these skills.
You can enroll in courses that focus on technical writing. There are plenty of online resources for legal writing courses to help you become the best in your field.
Besides feeling comfortable with various legal documents, ensure your proofreading skills are top-notch. You essentially want to be a master of English and legal issues.
Your writing should be your strongest skill, but researching is another piece of being a great freelance legal writer. As a lawyer or someone in the legal field, you already have top notch research skills.
Most clients will hire you to research and write about the legal topics they need coverage on. Already having legal research skills will immediately add more value to your work, since your client doesn’t have to take extra time to do it themselves.
Not only are research skills essential to the job, but finding data and evidence that your client appreciates can help push you ahead in your field.
Another critical skill to becoming a successful freelancer is project management. You won’t have a boss sending you assignments with timelines when you work on your own. You have to be able to keep track of your projects and deadlines.
When you first start freelancing, you may be hungry to pick up as many projects as possible. But you want to be sure that you have the organizational skills to pick and choose what you should work on and how much you should charge for it.
From there, you’ll need to ensure that you stay organized. While freelancing can be liberating, you have to remember that your career is all on you. So making sure you have enough time and energy to do the best work you can is crucial in being a freelance legal writer.
Getting Legal Writer Jobs
Now that you’ve built up your skills, it’s time to start getting gigs!
Getting legal writing jobs can feel challenging at first. Once you figure out what you need to start pitching, your inbox will be full in no time.
Find Your Niche
The best way to get gigs that excite you is to have a solid niche.
You’re already a great legal writer, but what areas are you passionate about?
What topics do you know you’re an expert in?
These areas are what you should lean toward to find your niche.
There are many writers out there, and you need to figure out a way to set yourself apart. Finding your niche is the perfect way to do this. If you have an area of expertise, legal professionals will know to come to you for those exact types of projects. They can even recommend you when they know of others that need help with the same topics.
From time to time, you may pick up some gigs that have nothing to do with your niche. But overall, finding a place in the industry you are interested in writing about will satisfy you more than taking on anything thrown your way.
Create a Portfolio
After figuring out what niche legal area you would like to write about, it’s time to put together your writing samples.
To create a portfolio as a freelance legal writer, you can put together pieces you have written in the past, as well as briefs. You want to show you have years of experience writing about the legal industry. If you specialize in content, you’ll want to include links to published pieces.
You should include a plethora of different types of writing samples to showcase your skills. You can showcase your writing on a portfolio website. That way, it is easy to send the links to potential clients. If you have published work, you can also re-post it on your social channels.
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With a solid portfolio, you’ll be ready to send out pitches to potential clients.
A cold pitch is an email you send to potential clients pitching yourself to work with them. You may not know anyone at the company, but enjoy their work and believe you can offer them value with your writing.
Cold pitches don’t have to just be on email either; you can directly message people you’d like to work with on LinkedIn. This way is a little more personal and can lead to a more natural conversation about your work and how you may be able to work together moving forward.
Build a Network
Coming from a legal firm or past job, you’re in luck when it comes to networking. You already have a built-in network of people from your past work that can vouch for you and your experience.
Start with old co-workers, managers, or past clients. You can ask them if they know of businesses looking for legal writers and be directly introduced.
If you aren’t coming from another place of work and are starting from scratch, you can build a network in several different ways.
First, you can look in your community for businesses, organizations, or other groups that may benefit from a legal writer. Feel free to go to different companies, meet the people working there, and drop off business cards. This is a great way to get to know your area better and build connections that can pay off in the long run.
Secondly, you can build your network online. LinkedIn and other business forums are the perfect places to network with others in your field. You may even find job postings or leads on different networking boards or individual postings.
Check Freelance Writing Job Boards
Freelancing is becoming a popular way to work.
Be sure to check the job descriptions to figure out the details of the postings. You can check these specifically for legal writing gigs and send in applications for different gigs.
You may also like: How to Tell a Client You Need More Time (5 Easy Ways)
Set Up a Business
After getting a couple of gigs under your belt as a freelancer, you’ll want to take the next step in your career and set up a business. Setting up a business for yourself may feel strange, but there are many benefits to setting one up as a freelance legal writer.
Set up an LLC
When you work alone, the most common way of setting up a business is as an LLC.
An LLC can be a business of one person. Setting up your LLC will give you an employer identification number. This is what the IRS uses to identify you as a legitimate business.
Tax Benefits of an LLC
Having an LLC as a freelancer opens up tax benefits that you wouldn’t have otherwise. You can create business-related expenses that tax differently than personal expenses and write them off at the end of the year.
Tax rates may also vary between working as an independent contractor and an LLC.
Personal Benefits as a Freelance Worker
As a freelance worker, you may worry about finding health insurance. There are many options out there for high-quality health insurance and benefits as a freelancer.
Organizations like Gigly offer benefit options tailored toward freelancers and gig workers. So you can find great coverage while building your career as a freelance legal writer.
Market Your Business
Now that your business is off the ground, it’s time to get in front of the right clients.
As a writer, you can use your best asset as a part of your digital marketing strategy. You can create content to show other clients your content writing skills while simultaneously marketing your business.
Content writing with SEO targeting can help you get your portfolio or website to the top of the search results. That way, your name comes up first when people search for legal content writers.
Using the right SEO optimization and writing about the topics you are passionate about can lead the types of people you want to work with to your business.
Social Media Networking
Networking can help you not only land gigs but also long-term clients. You can join networking groups on Facebook that discuss topics in legal writing and the industry. You can also use LinkedIn to market your business.
By consistently posting articles, writing samples, or commenting on other people’s posts, you are actively marketing your business. You can also guest write posts on other people’s blogs or web pages to get your name out to more people in your industry.
Email marketing may seem a little old school, but it’s one of the types of marketing with the highest ROI. You can easily target specific subsections of people.
The best part is you know they opted in to learn more about your business. Your email campaigns allow you to stay in touch with your clients and add a personal touch.
Great Communication Skills
Word of mouth is still very powerful, especially when you work in an industry like legal that relies on trust. No matter where you go or what you do with your business, make sure you are always practicing good communication skills. A happy client is more likely to recommend you to their peers.
Doing great work and being easy to communicate with can lead to many more gigs and clients.
To push your communication, you can offer to speak with other people in your field and get involved with panels or other events as well. You already know how to communicate through your writing. Translating that into your real-world connections can make all the difference for your marketing strategies.
Another old school marketing tactic? Business cards! Check out: How to Choose a Design for Your Freelance Business Cards
Becoming a freelance legal writer is a great choice for technical writers knowledgeable about the legal world.
You don’t have to be a former lawyer to be a great legal writer. You just need the knowledge and skills to create engaging content within the scope of the legal industry. Now that you know all the steps, it’s time to build a thriving freelance legal writing career.
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