When people picture lawyers and the legal industry, they do not often picture people who need or want to generate additional income or require second jobs to make ends meet. Most of the world still sees lawyers as the ultra-rich attorneys of the past. However, as the cost of living and law school has increased, the salaries at many law firms and legal services organizations have not. This means that recent generations of lawyers are leaving law school with a law degree and massive amounts of debt they cannot pay off quickly.
When this situation strikes, many attorneys will begin to wonder if there are other jobs or side hustles for lawyers that do not require additional training or knowledge. This article will outline some options for the attorney looking to have more money and flexibility, no matter their career path.
Why Legal Professionals Need a Side Hustle
Unless a recent law graduate has a full-time job at a big law firm, they will likely be facing massive law school debt to pay off and not as much income to put toward this debt as they would like. Additionally, law students are not able to work during the first year of law school, and many jobs that they can work later on do not match the law degree that they are earning or pay enough to even put a dent in tuition if they pay at all.
Even those that can make it out of law school relatively debt free may quickly realize that it takes time and energy to build up to the salaries and lifestyles many lawyers have come to expect, especially with the rising prices and uncertain outlooks in the legal profession. Even if the goal is to earn extra money, generate an income stream, or set your own hours, this article will outline some of the best side hustles for lawyers to use their legal expertise and experience to make more money and live a more financially comfortable life.
The Best Side Hustles for Lawyers to Use Legal Expertise
The key to a good side hustle is to find a job where you can use the expertise that you already have to complete the work that will be asked of you. For law students, law graduates, and legal professionals, this means relying on your legal skills and legal background to supplement your legal career.
Legal expertise means that you have a specific set of skills that you have honed and can use to create additional income for yourself and your family. Consider the legal knowledge and talents you have that can add to your side hustle. Also, consider skills that may need to be brushed up on but were there at one time.
These skills include public speaking, legal research, legal writing, and knowledge in a specific area of law for a legal professional working in the field already. A law student may have better public speaking skills than a long-term transactional attorney. Consider the paper you wrote on intellectual property or government agencies and use the knowledge you learned to expand your legal horizons. Then find a place where these skills and a hole in the legal system intersect to find your sweet spot.
If you need some ideas, some common ways that ordinary legal work can generate extra income are listed below.
Law students and practicing attorneys alike will be well-versed in research skills. Some companies or firms will pay for research on specific legal topics, especially if a large amount of research is needed. This can be in conjunction with freelance writing or content creation. Contract positions of this nature often pay very well and could lead to additional work, yet these positions will rarely require full-time work for an extended period.
Bar Exam Preparation Online Course
Another way for lawyers to earn extra income is through teaching test preparation courses, particularly courses for the bar exam. Bar exam preparation courses are often necessary for law graduates as they prepare to take the first step toward their legal practice.
These courses are often taught as online courses, making them easier to teach to a wider audience without a geographical barrier. Additionally, each online course can be sold for a thousand dollars or more.
However, the market is pretty saturated, and most students will use one of the mainstream prep courses unless they have a specific need that you could provide. For example, if you have an interesting format that appeals to students who need to take more frequent breaks or who need the information repeated more often. Finding a niche within the bar exam prep course field will be the key to making this a worthwhile side hustle.
Sell Legal Forms
Another side hustle to earn some extra money is to start an online business that sells legal forms based on your legal expertise. Some common options for forms to sell include a power of attorney form and medical directive forms, while others have used their legal work and practice to create an online marketplace.
However, there is a caveat here that many forms are available for free on court websites and at courthouses. Additionally, some forms will have state or district court-specific language that needs to be included, which will need to be evaluated or accounted for when creating these forms.
Reviewing Legal Documents
Another side hustle that many new graduates will do while they are preparing for the bar or looking for a full-time job is document review. It is common for big law firms to hire contract employees or temporary workers to review discovery for big cases and other legal documents. This can be particularly helpful for advancing a legal career while making extra money because it is legal work experience and exposure to legal matters.
Legal Content Writing
Another way to make extra money is through legal content creation. With the rise of social media and online publications, there is a variety of content creation side hustles that an attorney can choose from. The options range from freelance writing for legal publications or legal writing on a legal blog to creating videos on the legal aspects and implications of specific topics on platforms such as TikTok or creating a YouTube channel.
Content creation can be a great side hustle when you use your legal expertise and knowledge to break down a legal topic into ideas that people can understand. The better you are at engaging your audience and covering legal topics, the more success you will have.
For most platforms, the money will likely be coming from advertising and affiliate links, so if marketing is not your strong suit, this side hustle may be difficult to make profitable.
Freelance writing can be a way to make a side hustle in content creation more profitable because freelance writers will often be paid by clients for whom they write content instead of through advertising and affiliate links. However, there is still an aspect of marketing involved here.
Legal transcription is the conversion of audio and video documents to written pleadings or memorandums. With your background in legal work and your knowledge of the law, becoming a legal transcriptionist can be an incredibly profitable side hustle.
Legal transcription is common with big firms and partners that have less time to write, so they hire out to ensure the work gets done. This job can be done remotely, which helps expand your opportunities. However, this work is often contracted through
Another side hustle that some attorneys find meaningful is to provide legal counsel as a freelance attorney. This allows you to take on extra clients within your specialty and take on extra projects to generate more income regardless of whether it is a full-time gig or a side hustle. However, there are a couple of things to look out for when considering freelance work, especially if you have a full-time job at a law firm.
First, many firms will have noncompete clauses in their contracts with employees, meaning that you cannot provide the same type of legal counsel that you provide at work to other clients outside of work. Firms want to ensure that you bring any business you create to their firm.
Second, if you are providing counsel and representation, you will need to have malpractice insurance and it will not be covered by a firm’s insurance. The cost of this insurance may be prohibitive to some freelance work and may not end up generating income for you.
Adjunct Law Professor
Another common side hustle is that of the adjunct professor. With experience in the legal field, you can often qualify to teach a class at a law school or college in the area. This can be incredibly rewarding because it allows you to share your expertise and help the next generation of lawyers or professionals find their place in the field.
However, adjunct teaching can be time-consuming, especially if you teach a course that has multiple assignments throughout the semester or if you have a large class that you will need to prepare for and grade. It can also be a lot more work rather than more money depending on the school you teach at. Still, becoming an adjunct professor can be a rewarding and fulfilling side hustle.
Fractional Chief Legal Officer
A fractional chief legal officer is one of the great side hustles for attorneys that have practice in the corporate or transactional world. This role is common with start-ups and new businesses that cannot afford to have a general counsel full-time. This can be either part-time or gig-based depending on the work necessary, but it is a good way to make money through your legal expertise and without a huge time commitment to a start-up full-time.
A particularly popular side hustle for new attorneys or law students is that of a legal virtual assistant. A virtual assistant covers the administrative and scheduling tasks for a business or person, and a legal assistant does the same for an attorney. This job is particularly suited to recent graduates or law school graduates because it helps them gain exposure to the legal world and learn great organizational skills while still providing extra money.
Virtual assistants will often need to complete an online course on the processes and responsibilities needed, but these courses are often easily available and can be done remotely.
Passive Income and the Side Hustle
Another way an attorney can earn extra income is to generate passive income through a passive income stream. This can be an excellent option for the lawyer already busy with their full-time job but hoping to earn additional income without sacrificing the hours they have off from work. Passive income can contribute to better work-life balance and still help legal professionals generate income. Some of the best income streams are listed below.
Real Estate Investing
Real estate investing has become a booming industry in recent years with the skyrocketing price of homes and living in most places. Real estate investing is more commonly done by buying properties that one can either renovate and resell, known as “flipping,” or that one can rent out to one or more tenants to generate income through the rent.
Real estate can provide a large return on investment; however, with increased costs, it can be a difficult field to enter at this stage. If you have some expendable income that you would like to grow, it can be an option, but it is not a good choice for those without income to spare already.
Additionally, renting out property brings with it its list of responsibilities that can be difficult for people to fulfill and can be hard when tenants and landlords cannot get along. While many people will advocate for investing in real estate, some barriers and considerations cannot be ignored when evaluating the option.
The Stock Market and Personal Finance
Another way to create and grow passive income is to invest in the stock market and be smart with personal finance. This can be done either through robo-investing platforms or through picking and choosing your stocks. Knowledge of the market and the tax and liability implications of training is encouraged if you are considering such a leap.
However, many podcasts and finance experts can help you take the first steps in using your finances and the market to creatively generate income for yourself.
Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution
Another option for a side hustle for attorneys is to become an alternative dispute resolution practitioner. This can be a great option for those looking to expand their legal expertise and encourage resolution of disputes without litigation. Many alternative dispute practitioners will begin their careers as attorneys with a part-time dispute resolution business, but it also allows for a transition to full-time work once a book of business is created.
The most common forms are arbitrators and mediators; however, most states will have several other options and designations for their practitioners.
Mediators are practitioners who will work with the parties on either side of a case and help them find a mutually agreeable solution to the issue. They are neutral and do not make decisions in the case. Instead, they guide the parties through a discussion aimed at finding ways to bridge the gaps and resolve the dispute.
Mediators do not need to be attorneys, nor do they need to have extensive practice in a given area. However, they will need to complete mediation training to ensure that they are capable and able to resolve disputes
Arbitrators, on the other hand, are decision-makers in a case, much like a judge. However, arbitration is less formal and confidential, which allows the parties to resolve their dispute without the public spectacle of a trial. Arbitrators will hear evidence in a case and decide the outcome, which is called an award. Unlike litigation, the arbitrator is not bound to award either side the “win,” and can order outcomes between what either party is asking for or would like.
Arbitrators do not have to be attorneys, but it is most common for judges and lawyers to become arbitrators. It is also necessary to have some experience in the sector if one would like to become an arbitrator to ensure that the parties do not need to spend time explaining the intricate areas of the law to you.
Either of these options is great for an attorney looking to leap into alternative dispute resolution. The first step in this process is to sign up for dispute resolution training.
If you are interested in doing so, please see the training offered by ADR Times or click here to learn more about the alternative possibilities or second jobs for lawyers.