Lawyers are busy. Finding a way to produce additional income can be a challenge but not impossible. Especially prevalent among attorneys with lower-paying public interest or government positions who are aiming to pay off large student loan debt, many attorneys are turn to second jobs to make ends meet. For any lawyer, choosing a side job will require a number of considerations, some of which take into account the ethical responsibilities of the profession.
A lawyer’s schedule is dictated by the schedules of his clients, judges and other attorneys. With deadlines from Monday through Friday at the heart of any attorney’s practice, fitting in a job on the side can be difficult. Any second job a lawyer takes must fit into a changing schedule of demands that take priority. For this reason, jobs in which the attorney has some control are ideal. At the same time, these types of jobs are not easy to create or find. Freelance writing online offers this type of flexibility, as does creating a side business that is conducted solely on the weekends or evenings. Some attorneys find that bartending or teaching classes on evenings or weekends fits their schedule.
An attorney cannot have or appear to have a conflict of interest between the job he has on the side and his law practice. This means any side job has to be chosen with care. Ethical rules that govern the profession demand strict compliance from attorneys on this issue. Divided loyalties are a huge no-no. For example, if a firm represents a client who is suing a bar, it would be a conflict of interest for an attorney from that firm to work there as a bartender. Law firms have internal databases that enable conflict checks, and firms have policies about their attorneys working second jobs. Even solo attorneys must be wary of a conflict issue. Public interest or government attorneys might have even more stringent rules.
Attorneys as a rule have a skill set that is useful in a variety of work settings. For example, writing jobs are a natural fit for attorneys because of their well-developed writing skills. Analytical skill enables attorneys to review and consume large volumes of information, finding similarities and distinctions and organizing or proofreading it, making them a natural fit for proofreading, editing or policy jobs. Lawyers are good interviewers, so work for the U.S. Census might be an option. Some lawyers are good managers, so creating a small business like dog-walking that the attorney manages might an option. Another natural extension of an attorney’s legal experience and skill set is mediating disputes through programs set up by the courts. Finally, teaching business law or paralegal studies at a community college is a natural fit for an attorney.
Latent Talents and Hobbies
Some attorneys have latent talents that hardly see the light of day during a busy week in the courtroom. Putting these latent talents to use in a side business on evenings or weekends is a great way to bring balance and happiness to an attorney’s working life. For example, a lawyer who has a flare for fashion or is an avid knitter might make her own clothing or handmade items and sell them at craft fairs, online or in local designer shops. Attorneys who love sports have taken second jobs at ski resorts, golf courses or at the local pool or beach on weekends.
Siobhan Egan has edited newspapers and news websites at the Jersey Shore since 1999 and been an attorney since 1994. Her writing has won five statewide awards from the New Jersey Press Association. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Bucknell University and a Juris Doctor from Temple University.