A New Angle for Lawyers: The Legal Consultant
There is certainly no shortage of qualified lawyers in the U.S.right now. It’s also fair to say that people get into this profession for a variety of reasons — ideology, a commitment to justice, financial reward. However, continuing down a career path in law doesn’t have to begin and end at only finding a job as a lawyer.
One of the opportunities that those with legal expertise are finding to be fruitful is the field of consultancy. It’s a chance to apply those skills learned in school in a way that can result in a more holistic benefit for the projects or companies you choose to connect with. Even more, an increasing number of businesses and industries are starting to recognize the value of obtaining the insights of professionals who are not necessarily technicians in their industry, but have an expertise that can give them the competitive edge.
That’s not to say that it’s an inherently easy route to succeed in, however. There are plenty of challenges that you may not have been prepared for by education and experience strictly located in traditional attorney environments — but it can certainly be a lucrative, opportunistic means of making a creative and technical difference to an industry you care about. Not only that, but becoming a legal consultant can be a rewarding, fascinating path. We’ll take a look at a few areas of focus on your way to making this exciting new occupational direction a success.
Discovering Your Niche
In some ways, becoming a consultant can reflect the same choices you make embarking upon any other career in law. Attorneys specialize in a variety of areas — environmental law, family practice, intellectual property — for a variety of reasons, after all. Often their direction is cemented during law school, or further specialized after a couple of years in practice. You’ll find the same is true of legal consultancy. Businesses require legal consultants for specific purposes, and your choice of niche will affect the types of business that can benefit from your services.
It’s also worth noting that as our world changes, opportunities for emerging niche areas can present themselves. Currently, many businesses are still discovering how the transition into digital spaces and the adoption of new technology will affect the way they operate. In some cases, legislation has not caught up with the pace of technological advancement, and as a result, consultants who are able to provide expertise on data law, cybercrime, and other tech-related subjects, both in the current climate and as it changes, could be in high demand.
Making the decision to become a legal consultant while you’re still in law school can certainly be advantageous as well, as this allows you to examine the market for legal consultancy opportunities and what niches could be explored. That said, those who make the move after working as practicing attorneys for some time have an added advantage of deep experience in their niche, and continuing to maintain your law license means that you are able to take advantage of charging higher fees.
Networking and Sourcing Clients
The path to becoming a lawyer is pretty well mapped out, but what about legal consultancy? Firstly, it’s important to understand that you’ll likely either be a full-time member of an existing management consultancy firm, or you’ll be toughing it out on your own as a freelancer. In the case of the former, you’ll be able to take advantage of an existing infrastructure and learn from your colleagues. On the other hand, if you’re bold enough to start your own consultancy, you’ll need to hit the ground running.
Access to vast amounts of digital information along with advanced technology has not just made a legal consultant’s life easier, it has helped to drive a new wave of legal experts into that field. The combination of remote project management platforms and video conferencing software means that lawyers who go freelance have a practical way to work with a range of clients across the globe. But, as any freelancer will tell you, much of the challenge is finding, maintaining, and growing your roster of clientele.
This is where you’ll need to create and maintain a smart social media strategy. One of the more direct networking platforms is LinkedIn, which should be used to maintain your current connections in the legal realm, alongside with hunting for prospects. On top of that, you also need to place focus on how to utilize other social media platforms in a way that helps you expand your business. For example, Twitter is excellent for making connections with potential clients, and starting conversations that could lead to work — it can also be used on a long-term basis to help build the personality for your brand.
Cementing Your Expertise
Whether you are operating solo or part of a consultancy firm, your reputation will be everything. Your successes and your expertise will need to have a level of visibility that allows you to parlay your results into more work. Today’s digital environment provides you with tools to level up in a way that goes beyond the metrics you produce in your day-to-day operations, and with some extra effort, you’ll cement yourself as a leading specialist in your field.
Focusing on creating a range of content on your area of expertise can reinforce your position as the voice of valuable knowledge. With relatively minimal equipment, you can start your own podcast exploring topics related to your consultancy, perhaps collaborating with or interviewing others in your industry; which also doubles up as a networking opportunity. Produce a YouTube channel with regular, short, digestible videos. Create blog posts doing deep dives on interesting subjects in your field.
It is vital that a legal consultant take advantage of the current shift into digital transformation. Understanding how quality content and regular engagement in digital environments is key to future-proofing your consultancy business. These efforts can also be utilized to raise your rankings not only in your occupational field, but also in search engines, making it more likely that potential clients will find your details first, and view you as an expert in your field.
Becoming a lawyer can be a rewarding experience — both personally and financially. However, the current digitally-enhanced environment is opening career possibilities for legal experts who also have an entrepreneurial bug. By placing focus on establishing a niche, honing networking skills, and taking advantage of digital content, you can forge a fascinating and lucrative career path in legal consultancy.
This guest post was authored by Dan Matthews
Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.