doing legal work on the side Forum

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doing legal work on the side

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:20 pm

I got this cleared with my employer and I'm able to do legal work on the side.

I initially started doing simple work with helping out friends, but want to branch out by advertising my services and just doing simple legal work (such as contract drafting) that I can manage on my spare time.

Is it simple as 1) creating a legal entity, and 2) getting malpractice insurance? Anything else I need to be concerned about?

I did some research into this but since I'm not creating a full-blown law firm, I'm not entirely sure what applies and what doesn't.

Also, any Bar-related rules and regulations I need to be concerned about? (California)


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Re: doing legal work on the side

Post by FND » Fri Jan 10, 2020 12:40 pm

it's simpler than that. You don't need to create an entity, and most states don't require malpractice insurance.

In your case, I wouldn't bother with a legal entity. Creating a P.C. or a PLLC doesn't protect you from malpractice, it only protects you from e.g. a slip & fall in your office, or unpaid wages from employees when you close up shop. Neither of which are a risk yet.

I would get malpractice insurance. The most important benefit is that the insurance pays for your defense if you ever get sued. That could end up being worth much more than the ultimate payout.

I don't know if California requires a bona fide office. Some states require it, some only require a bona fide office for non-resident attorneys, and some states don't have any office requirement. You're gonna have to find out.

As for advertising, I should tell you to read the rules for what is and is not permissible, but from having direct knowledge of other attorneys' disciplinary issues, nobody cares.
Now for the important part. In my state, you can get practice manuals/treatises that come with form documents. They're not cheap, but for a few hundred bucks you can get a trust & will manual with electronic templates, or an employment law handbook, or whatever it is you want to practice.

Seeing as you'll be doing this on the side, I suggest contracts, real estate, and wills as the areas that are most amenable to a restricted schedule. But, don't get lulled into biting off more than you can chew. As an example, simple wills are easy. Complex estate plans require serous expertise. If someone starts talking about a child who's on welfare, another with a spending problem, or if you're hitting the estate tax cap, either refer it out, or bring in someone who can help you. There's a lot of advanced techniques that can help your client, but if you don't know about them, you're doing your client a disservice.


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Re: doing legal work on the side

Post by JOThompson » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:10 pm

Definitely get malpractice insurance. It's worth it just for the peace of mind, even if your state does not require it (some states do require you to tell prospective clients you don't carry it though). If you are going into civil stuff, I would highly recommend it, just because I think it's much easier to commit malpractice when dealing with a broad range of civil issues. I did mainly criminal and I still had it, but I felt like it was a fairly small universe of mistakes I could make as a criminal lawyer with three years of prior experience.

You may not need an entity for liability reasons, but it's worth considering for tax purposes. I had a C corp with the subchapter S election and it saved me some money on taxes, although not a ton because I was a small fish.

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