Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

is it really possible to moonlight/part time in law practice?

i understand the idea, but law is not like selling on ebay o whiteguyinchina07/21/18
I don't see a reason a person couldn't do low end trust and thirdtierlaw07/21/18
"help incorporate a startup".... it's possible, but you real dingbat07/21/18
"If it's that low-end, they can prepare and file the documen jeffm07/21/18
Problem is people will not realize they needed help doing th bigsal07/21/18
I wasn't clear, for which I apologize. I agree with you. dingbat07/21/18
I agree with Jeffm, what appears to be easy and straightforw thirdtierlaw07/21/18
I doubt someone will get hired as a mediator if s/he can onl cranky07/23/18
Sure. Register with EOIR to get your attorney #. Then just b isthisit07/21/18
Interesting. Are you doing this? I'm definitely interested i lawyer207/25/18
You could moonlight if the jx you are in allows night time a ambulancechaser201307/23/18
For family, criminal, landlord-tenant, personal injury or tr caj11107/24/18
my bigger concern with someone moonlighting is less a matter dingbat07/24/18
You get what you pay for I guess. caj11107/27/18
I think the feasibility is driven by your full-time job. I tttnoregrets07/31/18
whiteguyinchina (Jul 21, 2018 - 3:03 am)

i understand the idea, but law is not like selling on ebay or blogging about food.

law requires a lot of upfront work to learn the specific area, and is competitive and adversarial.

which means, if the opposing lawyer is full time or better prepared, s/he will have an advantage. so you will be doing a disservice to your client and going into a gunfight with a knife.

besides if a gig is part time, obviously it will be low on your priorities. whereas for your client, the legal issue may be their top life thing at that moment. it a disconnect there.

i think the best approach is, to consider becoming an expert in ONE field, and to be able to carry that expertise into either retirement or into a full time job eventually.

otherwise you are doing yourself a disservice and also whoever hired you. making a joke of yourself and jeopardizing your clients affair.

if u want real part time gigs, do online affiliate marketing or blog under a pen name or sell stuff on amazon.

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 21, 2018 - 7:11 am)

I don't see a reason a person couldn't do low end trust and estate work. Or super low end contract review work, i.e. review employment contracts, help incorporate a start up, etc. I think you're correct for the large majority areas of practice.

I always laugh when people suggest doing "family law" at night. Unless they are talking about being a mediator, that just isn't possible.

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dingbat (Jul 21, 2018 - 9:22 am)

"help incorporate a startup".... it's possible, but you really are doing your client a disservice. If it's that low-end, they can prepare and file the documents themselves (takes about 5 minutes for someone who knows what they're doing. someone who doesn't can figure it out in less than an hour). If it's more than that, they need an attorney who understands what they're doing.

low end wills makes sense, as does amicable divorce - but that amicable divorce can quickly descend into a sh-tstorm, and a badly drafted will will come back to haunt them. The problem with the will is you don't know what you don't know, and it can quickly become problematic.

That being said, there is a possibility to moonlight, particularly consumer real estate closings - I'm pretty sure a lot of people would love to be able to close at night and not need to take time off work.

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jeffm (Jul 21, 2018 - 9:31 am)

"If it's that low-end, they can prepare and file the documents themselves (takes about 5 minutes for someone who knows what they're doing. someone who doesn't can figure it out in less than an hour)."

I tend to think like that all the time, but then, I'll see intelligent, successful people show me how wrong I am. Recent examples:

1. Wife of H thought that when I did H's will, it took care of everything "they* owned.

2. Wealthy couple had CPA form an LLC to hold rental properties, but they never conveyed the properties into the LLC. CPA had no business doing this, but CPA's do it all the time. Clients had no idea.

3. CPA instructs H to buy real estate in his name and lease it to his company he owned before marriage for rental income. Couple is divorcing many years later. W now has claim to the real estate as community property.

This is all "low-end" stuff people need help with. None of it takes much time. It's the perfect type of work attorneys can do part time.

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bigsal (Jul 21, 2018 - 9:52 am)

Problem is people will not realize they needed help doing this until after they screwed up. Cause they would rather save a few bucks on asking the JD for help.

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dingbat (Jul 21, 2018 - 2:27 pm)

I wasn't clear, for which I apologize. I agree with you.

If it's something an attorney who only dabbles can do in 5 minutes, it's something the client can do on their own, because even apparently simple things can become very problematic.

I've seen attorneys who specialize mess up all the time, and I can often tell quite quickly when dealing with someone inexperienced or incompetent, and they might never learn how badly they did because it could be years before issues crop up.

My absolute favorite was with an estate planning attorney in town who billed himself as a medicaid expert. He had a medicaid crisis case - client was going into the nursing home right away, and based on a reverse half loaf, he promised to save approximately half. (a reverse half loaf involves giving away half the funds, and using the other half to buy a note or annuity to cover the expenses during the penalty period)
Except, he only created an irrevocable trust and transferred all assets into it, but didn't give further instructions
Six months later, when client's son complained that Medicaid rejected the client again, and the nursing home was threatening to evict client for non-payment, attorney had trustee give everything to the son, have the son pay the nursing home and give the rest back to client, thinking it would reduce the penalty for uncompensated transfer (it didn't)
Now he instructed client to give half to son and sell half to son for a note (in our state, only an annuity is permissible, a note isn't).
So now client is getting penalized a second time for giving away the same funds and the penalty period didn't start until the note finished.

Instead of client saving X, and paying Y to nursing home with medicaid kicking in after about 6 months, Medicaid didn't kick in until 2 years later, client lost everything, and son had to pay 2X to cover nursing home costs.

By the time I looked at it, my honest advice was "this is such a clusterf-ck that even I can't fix it. go sue the other attorney for malpractice, and by-the-way, do I have your permission to disclose privileged information so I can file a bar complaint?"

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 21, 2018 - 11:02 am)

I agree with Jeffm, what appears to be easy and straightforward can be screwed up royally.

As for amicable divorces, I'd say 80% of the people come into my office saying, "we want this to amicable." Then it's amicable for about a week. Next thing you know, you're in court arguing about a tea set. If you're working during the day, you just can't take the risk.

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cranky (Jul 23, 2018 - 9:37 pm)

I doubt someone will get hired as a mediator if s/he can only do the work in the evenings.

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isthisit (Jul 21, 2018 - 10:44 am)

Sure. Register with EOIR to get your attorney #. Then just bang out petitions (Immigration). You don't ever have to go to court if you stay away from deportation defense.

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lawyer2 (Jul 25, 2018 - 3:25 pm)

Interesting. Are you doing this? I'm definitely interested in learning more about it.

Also, one could work with creditors who need local counsel to sue debtors (usually in small claims). Most of it is just reviewing and signing complaints. They usually have appearance counsel to all the in-person court stuff.

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ambulancechaser2013 (Jul 23, 2018 - 10:11 pm)

You could moonlight if the jx you are in allows night time appearances and it’s arraignment court or traffic tickets. Maybe write a motion to compel further discovery responses and argue it. Thing is Court closes at 4:30. They are plenty of lawyers who would work the extra 3 hours a day for another $20,000.00 especially if it’s just appearance work.

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caj111 (Jul 24, 2018 - 12:38 pm)

For family, criminal, landlord-tenant, personal injury or traffic law, or just about any area of law that requires regular court appearances, the answer is hell no. Some towns do have a night court where you could do these things, but I still think it would be difficult.

For areas of law that, when you come down to it, are just glorified business consulting, such as preparing incorporation papers, advising clients on the best setup for tax purposes, putting together partnership agreements, writing contracts, etc., then I would say yes.

Estate and trust law, because it usually just involves preparing and filing documents, I would also agree the answer is yes.

Immigration and bankruptcy law often just involves filling out and sending in a lot of forms as well, but for simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings, there is always at least a short hearing. It's my understanding that those hearings are very quick and are largely just formalities, and it serves no purpose for the lawyer to be there (most of the time - in the rare event a creditor shows up, the lawyer may need to do something).

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dingbat (Jul 24, 2018 - 12:47 pm)

my bigger concern with someone moonlighting is less a matter of time and more a matter of expertise. I've seen enough screwups from attorneys in their area of specialization, I tremble at the thought of how bad it could get for a part-timer who merely dabbles.

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caj111 (Jul 27, 2018 - 4:59 pm)

You get what you pay for I guess.

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tttnoregrets (Jul 31, 2018 - 12:36 pm)

I think the feasibility is driven by your full-time job. I have been moonlighting since I became licensed (about 6.5 years). My fmoonlighting compliments my full-time job so there is no issue.

I also find that more often than not, I am way more competent than opposing counsel because they tend to be general practitioners that take a wide variety of cases because they don't turn down business. Where the only cases I moonlight on are directly related to my consulting job.

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