Celeste H.G. Boyd will teach a course about freelance lawyering at Solo Practice University®.
Celeste H.G. Boyd is a Freelance Attorney licensed in New Mexico and North Carolina, a Yale Law School graduate, and a military spouse (among other things). Recently, in addition to her freelance practice, Celeste also began serving as Of Counsel to The Paynter Law Firm, PLLC (a former freelance client), for whom she works on a wide variety of cases, mostly involving intellectual property, consumer protection, and antitrust law. [And, in her “spare” time, she also runs Stiletto Gear, a company that makes clothing for military families.]
During law school, Celeste worked as a Summer Law Clerk at the Legal Aid Society—Employment Law Center in San Francisco, and as a Summer Associate for the litigation department of Morrison | Foerster in San Francisco, in anticipation of relocating to San Francisco after law school. But alas, those plans came to a screeching halt when, shortly before graduating from law school, she fell for and married an officer in the U.S. Army. His career meant that they would “get” to move to new and exotic locations (like Ft. Leavenworth, KS or Ft. Bragg, NC) every 1-2 years, which presented an interesting puzzle: how to create a thriving legal career in the face of constant geographic insecurity? Thus was born her practice as a Freelance Attorney.
Celeste’s clients include attorneys from across the country—solo practitioners, law firms of all sizes, corporate in-house counsel, and nonprofits—and the legal services she provides them are as varied as the clients themselves. In the last few years, Celeste has seen interest in freelance lawyering steadily increase (the word “explode” might even be appropriate), and she regularly gets calls and emails asking about how to be a freelancer. She hopes this SPU course will provide a great starting point for anyone looking for the freedom and flexibility of a freelance practice.
For more information, please see www.celesteboyd.com.
Footloose and Fancy-Freelancing: Lawyering on your own terms
Class # 1 – So You Wanna Be a Freelancer?
Lawyers come to the world of freelancing from many different backgrounds and for many different reasons. Although there’s no single recipe for a successful freelance practice (after all, part of the allure of this career path is the flexibility to do things your way), there are certain questions you need to ask from the get-go to ensure that you’ve at least thought about where you’re going and why. What’s your vision of this career move? Are you ready to dive right in, or should you test the waters a bit before you jump? And most importantly, are you ready for everything that comes with being an entrepreneur? Because that’s what freelancing is: entrepreneurship. It’s turning your career into a business, your bosses into clients, and yourself into your boss. Confused yet? Hopefully this class will help clear up some of that confusion.
Class # 2 – The Ethics of Freelancing
Freelancing is not exactly a brand-new phenomenon, but it’s new enough that anyone who’s read the Model Rules can tell you they’re not written with freelance attorneys in mind. Even so, freelancers are still attorneys, and we’re still governed by the same ethical standards and regulations as other attorneys. This session will point out some of the trickiest ethical issues facing freelancers, including regulations governing the unauthorized practice of law, the definition of law practice (and lawyer-client relationships), virtual law practices, multi-jurisdictional practice, and malpractice insurance. I can’t possibly resolve all the questions you might have about legal ethics and freelancing, but the idea is to give you a solid heads-up about some of the issues you should be considering before you start your practice.
Class # 3 – Catching the Work (Marketing)
Freelance lawyering is not a field of dreams—if you build it . . . they may or may not come. The single most common question I get about freelancing is “How do I find work?” And it’s the most common question precisely because it’s the most difficult—especially for attorneys, who, let’s face it, are generally not used to questions that can’t be answered by Lexis or Westlaw. While there’s no one-size-fits-all, magic recipe for finding work (I don’t care what the sales “gurus” say), this session seeks to provide some tips on how to approach marketing yourself as a freelance attorney—and maybe more importantly, how to avoid some marketing pitfalls that stand between you and a successful practice.
Class # 4 – Pinning the Work Down (The First Phone Call)
So you’ve worked hard to set up your practice, and you finally get that phone call: “Hi, I’m Lawyer X, and I’m interested in your services.” Ummm . . . now what? This session seeks to prepare you for that phone call by discussing key issues that need to be resolved before you start working. This includes dealing with the second-most common question I get about freelancing: “What do I charge?” But it also includes the other basic questions you’ll need to cover in that first phone call, such as project timing, project scope, and work product format. Plus, we’ll talk about whether you need a professional services agreement, and what needs to be included in it.
Class # 5 – Doing the Work, Part I: Logistics
So you think you’re an attorney, right? Wrong. You’re now an attorney, a paralegal, an administrative assistant, an office manager, a marketing director, and a general gofer. Depending on where you’ve come from in your career, you may be used to performing some of these roles—but you’re probably not used to performing ALL of them at once. This session will cover the nitty-gritty of time and task management, invoicing, and the other logistics involved in running your own home office, including some tips on technological solutions for maximizing your efficiency.
Class # 6 – Doing the Work, Part II: The Actual Legal Work.
If you’ve been a working attorney up until now, you probably think doing the actual legal work of a freelancer is the least of your worries. After all, you went to three years of law school to learn how to do it, and you’ve been practicing for [insert number] years. How different could it be, right? Well, you’re partially right. In many ways the work you do as a freelancer is very similar to the work you’ve already done as an attorney (or a law clerk / intern). But there’s a key difference: you no longer have a boss—you have clients. And a successful freelance practice depends on understanding the subtle distinctions between the two types of relationships. This session will discuss these distinctions, and how to navigate the client–freelancer relationship effectively so that your clients keep coming back.