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HouseOfPolycarbonate

Areas of law that lend themselves to solo practice (and some degree of remote work)

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Posted (edited)

Hi!

I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions for areas of law, or even careers that wouldn't involve practicing the law as a lawyer, but careers where experience as a lawyer could be leveraged in order to work for yourself/go solo, and working without a secretary or assistant.

Something where maybe you could just work from home all the time (although permitting having to leave to travel to interview people, or mediate, attend court, etc, depending on the specific career), and for maybe 3 or 4 weeks a couple of times a year, you wouldn't have to be physically present anywhere specific (e.g. wouldn't have to do the aforementioned interviewing of people, or going to court, or meeting with clients), but you would still be working remotely during this time.

I have read about things like becoming a mediator, but does anyone have any other ideas?

Edited by HouseOfPolycarbonate

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Posted (edited)

Hmm, what is a word that means "not at all" in an even more forceful way? Hah! (But nonetheless, it is a valid suggestion.)

Edited by HouseOfPolycarbonate

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Certain solicitor oriented areas of immigration law are relatively well suited to solo work and working from home (assuming you can earn the trust of clients). 

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, msk2012 said:

Certain solicitor oriented areas of immigration law are relatively well suited to solo work and working from home (assuming you can earn the trust of clients). 

How important is it to have an "in" within the community? E.g. is it important to share the same ethnicity?

 

Edit, is this kind of area of law where it is important to work in a major city? E.g. Toronto, Vancouver, etc?

Edited by HouseOfPolycarbonate

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1 minute ago, HouseOfPolycarbonate said:

How important is it to have an "in" within the community? E.g. is it important to share the same ethnicity?

It depends. There are certainly practitioners (meaning immigration lawyers and immigration consultants) who live off of serving clients that share their ethnicity. This is what I would describe the retail side of immigration law and is generally high volume and oriented towards individual clients.

On the other hand, you also have practices that are less retail oriented and tend to deal with organizational clients and, at times, high net worth individuals. In a practice of this sort, organizational clients are largely indifferent to your ethnicity but, oddly enough, some of the HNWIs have an active preference to not be served by someone of the same ethnicity as them.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, msk2012 said:

It depends. There are certainly practitioners (meaning immigration lawyers and immigration consultants) who live off of serving clients that share their ethnicity. This is what I would describe the retail side of immigration law and is generally high volume and oriented towards individual clients.

On the other hand, you also have practices that are less retail oriented and tend to deal with organizational clients and, at times, high net worth individuals. In a practice of this sort, organizational clients are largely indifferent to your ethnicity but, oddly enough, some of the HNWIs have an active preference to not be served by someone of the same ethnicity as them.

Huh, that's really interesting. Could you explain why some HNWIs may prefer to have someone of a different ethnicity serve them?

Also, I know almost nothing about immigration law. When you say organizational client, do you mean companies looking to hire foreign labour?

 

How remunerative are both types of immigration law practices? For a solo practice, is the less retail oriented model impracticable? 

Edited by HouseOfPolycarbonate

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Telephone summary advice lawyers. I've also been to conferences with some remote only resolution family lawyers.

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Posted (edited)

Doc review (for litigation) is actually very chill and I quite like doing it from time to time. 

Edited by easttowest
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3 minutes ago, easttowest said:

Doc review (for litigation) is actually very chill and I quite like doing it from time to time. 

My initial reaction to this was a strong no, as I have heard that the pay is very low, and that more and more of this work is being outsourced overseas. Am I incorrect?

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2 minutes ago, easttowest said:

Doc review (for litigation) is actually very chill and I quite like doing it from time to time. 

Most definitely, I like to have a mix of in-depth, complex research tasks and court appearances, and more brain-dead doc review stuff. Too much of the former would burn me out, too much of the latter would bore me to death.

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4 minutes ago, CleanHands said:

Most definitely, I like to have a mix of in-depth, complex research tasks and court appearances, and more brain-dead doc review stuff. Too much of the former would burn me out, too much of the latter would bore me to death.

A lot of the document review/due diligence work that’s available for teleworking is the initial sweep of documents before lawyers at major firms go in and do more detailed reviews. It’s likely to be even more brain dead than the doc review work you’ve done. 

It’s also, in my opinion, the best target for automation in the legal industry, because the benefit of full automation is incredibly high (hundreds, if not thousands, of hours saved). I’m not saying that’s likely to happen soon, but I’d hate to be a ten year call looking for work with nothing but doc review on my resume when my job is automated away. 

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14 minutes ago, HouseOfPolycarbonate said:

Huh, that's really interesting. Could you explain why some HNWIs may prefer to have someone of a different ethnicity serve them?

Also, I know almost nothing about immigration law. When you say organizational client, do you mean companies looking to hire foreign labour?

How remunerative are both types of immigration law practices? For a solo practice, is the less retail oriented model impracticable? 

It's difficult to explain why some clients have an aversion to being served by someone of the same ethnicity. If I were to hazard a guess, these are high status people who, in their countries of origin, are accustomed to seeing the majority of their co-ethnics as low status people. You see this most often with people from the South Asian subcontinent (then again, the South Asian subcontinent is Canada's leading source of immigrants).

Yes, organizational/institutional clients tend to be businesses that are looking to hire foreign labour. These are typically recurring clients that will come back to you when they need your help to bring over a particular worker and so on. Another scenario with an institutional client is that a foreign business wants to operate in Canada but is looking for assurances that it will be able to bring over a certain number of key personnel in exchange for investing a certain amount in the local economy. These are typically bigger files that might last quite a while but are front-loaded.

Both retail and non-retail immigration law can be well remunerated but the floor is substantially lower in the case of retail immigration law. To do very well in retail immigration law, you typically need to run a volume based operation where you have a number of clerks/consultants working under you.

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This started out as a reasonable question, but then you added on requirement after requirement until your question got to the point where you are guaranteed that any answer you receive points you at low-skill, low-remuneration work in law. Why is that? Because you can work solo as a lawyer, yes. You can work in situations where you aren't too often required to go anywhere to work. But once you reach the point where you also want to be dispensable, such that it doesn't really matter if you disappear for a week or two...what you're really asking about is how to do work from home that isn't too important in the first place. Because anything that is important just can't be put down like you want to put things down. If you're working alone, and there's no one else to serve your clients, you can't reasonably expect to work in a way where you make yourself unavailable to those clients.

Let me put it another way. I, or others, can probably find recommendations that check a lot of those boxes you've listed, but not all of them. Not working as a lawyer. If you happen to have a major artistic talent you haven't mentioned and want to work as a reclusive sculptor on your own schedule, maybe that's viable. If you actually want and intend to practice law in any form, I'd encourage you to identify at least one or two of your expectations where you could be more flexible, and then maybe we'll have something.

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Areas of law that you could go solo: Criminal, family, immigration, real estate, wills & estates, and I'm sure I missed a few others. 

3 hours ago, HouseOfPolycarbonate said:

 working without a secretary or assistant.

However, to answer the above,  you are going to probably need a clerk or legal assistant if you have a solo real estate practice, and you are definitely going to want a good clerk at your side for family law. 

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Are there areas in business/corporate law that allow you to eventually go solo or maybe with another partner(s)? (other than real-estate)

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Diplock said:

This started out as a reasonable question, but then you added on requirement after requirement until your question got to the point where you are guaranteed that any answer you receive points you at low-skill, low-remuneration work in law. Why is that? Because you can work solo as a lawyer, yes. You can work in situations where you aren't too often required to go anywhere to work. But once you reach the point where you also want to be dispensable, such that it doesn't really matter if you disappear for a week or two...what you're really asking about is how to do work from home that isn't too important in the first place. Because anything that is important just can't be put down like you want to put things down. If you're working alone, and there's no one else to serve your clients, you can't reasonably expect to work in a way where you make yourself unavailable to those clients.

Let me put it another way. I, or others, can probably find recommendations that check a lot of those boxes you've listed, but not all of them. Not working as a lawyer. If you happen to have a major artistic talent you haven't mentioned and want to work as a reclusive sculptor on your own schedule, maybe that's viable. If you actually want and intend to practice law in any form, I'd encourage you to identify at least one or two of your expectations where you could be more flexible, and then maybe we'll have something.

Hi,

I understand that I put many specifications on this. So a wider range of positions that don't fit all the specifications would also be appreciated. But to clarify, I'm not sure how you interpreted what I wrote, but I didn't mean a job where you would not be working for a couple of weeks at a time, a couple of times a year, but just where such work during this period of a couple of weeks would be able to be done without having to attend in person anywhere (e.g. you could still take phone calls, video calls, send work electronically, etc). 

I get your point though, I am really limiting the suggestions that I would get.

Edited by HouseOfPolycarbonate

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, theboy said:

Are there areas in business/corporate law that allow you to eventually go solo or maybe with another partner(s)? (other than real-estate)

Lots of solo and small shops practice general commercial work, but you're not going to be servicing major clients – you'll be helping normal people set up and manage their businesses. 

The area of big law work that seems most amenable to smaller practices is litigation, which is why you see so many litigation boutiques out there. After that, you tend to see quite a few relatively small firms practicing in the following areas: 

  1. Insolvency
  2. Labour and employment
  3. Tax (I seem to remember @kurrika posting about a tax court judge who, prior to joining the bench, had operated a solo shop for some time) 

Although in the case of the latter two, those firms seem to generally service smaller clients. Litigation and insolvency seem almost uniquely well suited to servicing large clients from a small firm. 

In terms of the more corporate-corporate work done at big firms, things like securities, private equity, and the like seem to be dominated by big firms, with medium sized shops picking up the slack. I don't think I've ever heard of a <5 lawyer securities shop. 

This is just my general understanding of the market, and I've never really looked into L&E or tax work, so I'm open to being corrected by those with more knowledge. 

Edited by BlockedQuebecois
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Posted (edited)

^ there are a few small securities litigation shops, which aligns with your broader point about lit in general (although I just checked one that I had in mind and they seem to have added a few faces, bringing their number to 7 and therefor not <5). I’m just pointing that out in case anyone is reading who likes securities and litigation but doesn’t want to practice in a big firm. 
 

 

Edited by easttowest
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Lawyers I know well have a tiny shop where they do corporate work (incorporations like BQ said as well as small transactions, usually $10m or lower because as the numbers get bigger the clients tend to go downtown) and employment (for both employer and employee, depending on the client). 

On top of that, everyone there does real estate and wills to pay the firm’s overhead.

They keep their own hours, often work from home, and all of them usually take more than a month off a year. 

However, all of them started out in larger firms and then broke away to work together after a few years, and they have a small number of support staff. The reason they can take time away from work is because they have each other to lean on if things are happening on files when they’re away. I’m not sure their style of practice is possible while solo.

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