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ThorAway

Taking on side work?

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I've been working for the last little while on contract as in-house counsel for a mid-large company. My contract is set to expire some time at the end of this year. Throughout my current employment I've had friends and friends of friends reach out to me about the odd request for some type of legal service - up till now, i've said no.

However, now that I have my workload better managed at my current place of employment, I am considering whether to take on some legal work on the side - the extra money would be useful as I have some major life milestones on the horizon. 

I've considered the following issues that could arise:

  • My contract - No express prohibition on "side work"
  • LawPro/LSO - Update 
  • Conflicts 
  • Workload 

Is there something else i should consider before making a decision?

Anyone who has taken on "side work",  what has your experience been?

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No, I think you've identified the three main issues.  Your contract may well state you are not to engage in outside work.  EVen if the contract doesn't state it, managing conflicts would be a nightmare.  And your liability insurance may not cover you for outside work if paid for by your employer.

I know that's my issue as a government lawyer.  Government self-insures, so I have no liability insurance for anything I would do outside the scope of my employment.

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I work full-time non-law job, do some part-time legal work. My contract for my non-law job expressly permits me to work independently as a lawyer, because that's what we agreed on. And yes, both LSO and LawPro are aware. I would think even moreso for someone working full-time as a lawyer (in-house counsel) in a salaried position that lack of an express prohibition on "side work" wouldn't be enough, you'd need express permission to do "side work". But, from a relatively recent discussion re moonlighting here some others disagree. Pay them for legal advice...

That is not legal or ethical advice, it's more moral/common sense advice.

Whether or not conflicts would be a nightmare depends, obviously you have to be aware, but it might be that one's in-house work and what friends ask you to do are so far apart that the chance of conflict is negligible (I mean, you still have to be alert, I just mean that it's not like you'll be rejecting every second potential client).

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Posted (edited)

definitely make sure you get insurance for your work on the side.

I've been in this position, some other thoughts:

workload will become a major issue: if you do a really good job on your side gig - you may 'suddenly' be referred a lot more work. If you turn the work down it may actually affect your reputation. So you need to anticipate and have a plan. Clients will be like: "can you do this or not? why are you turning away work? I don't care if it is a side business or not, I demand responsiveness or I'm taking my business elsewhere etc"

If you do a really good job and actually make a lot of side income, word may get around and eventually get back to your boss/department. That may cause some office politics issues: your boss: "I pay this guy less than me, but if you add his 'side income' he actually makes more than me, that f*cker! how do I assert my authority when he/she makes more than me?, need to get rid of him/her etc". (may not matter if your job is ending in about year anyways though)

psychologically, you may also fall into the trap of losing motivation for both your main job and the side gig - "I don't need to do a good job at work, i  have my side gig as a back up.... (5 minutes later)... I don't need to be serious about my side gig, I have main job (maybe my contract will be extended)" etc...  (and you start doing a poor job at both)

not sure what kind of work you are thinking of doing, if you are doing something that's higher risk (e.g. litigation), gotta make sure stuff like this doesn't happen: a self-rep on the other side, or your own client somehow finds your main job's department number and starts calling random people in your building asking questions about their 'file'. etc, you are smart, but sometimes clients are crazy/stupid.

Edited by law4sho

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