7 Ways Lawyers Can Make Money On the Side
(Note: This blog was updated November 6, 2019)
When the going gets tough, tough lawyers look for side jobs. Actually, even when the going isn't that tough, a lot of lawyers still like to earn a little extra money to supplement their take-home pay.
But juggling multiple jobs can sometimes backfire. One lawyer's predicament provides a good lesson: Matthew Scott Finley, a lawyer for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, was caught using downtime at work to make extra money by answering legal questions for a website. After an ethics investigation, Finley was fined $2,000, ABA Journal reports.
With Finley's case as an example of what not to do, here are some other ways lawyers can rake in some revenue, separate from holding a day job:
- Teaching. Your 1L legal research and writing instructor was most likely a practicing attorney, so why not check with your local law school's career office for potential openings? You may also want to consider teaching opportunities at an unaccredited law school, or even teaching a law-related class at a community college.
- Tutoring. The LSAT and the bar exam, especially bar-exam essays, can be particularly lucrative practice areas for lawyer-tutors. Of course, private test-prep companies can also use a few lawyerly tutors for tests like the GRE, SAT, and ACT.
- Writing and editing. If you're a solo practitioner or part of a small firm, you probably have a legal blog to drive traffic to your firm's website. (If not, FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing experts can help you set one up.) But lawyerly writing skills can also be put to work by blogging for other websites, writing an e-book, or editing a variety of publications.
- Hosting a legal call-in show or podcast. Even if you don't get paid for this, going on TV or the radio to share general legal knowledge can potentially drive clients to your firm. Podcasts can also pay through ad revenue, although the competition is fierce, so expect to put in significant time to be successful.
- Mediating disputes. ADR isn't just for retired judges. Practicing lawyers with negotiation skills can also get into the game as neutral arbiters for a variety of cases and disputes. You can also look into becoming a small-claims or temporary judge, which typically requires at least 10 years of law practice.
- Becoming a sports referee. Speaking of resolving disputes, who better than a lawyer to make judgment calls when it really counts? Ed Hochuli, now retired, was a trial lawyer in Phoenix while becoming nationally known for his lengthy explanations and even larger biceps. If the NFL is a bit out of your league, a local pee-wee program may be a good first step.
- Consulting for Hollywood. Lawyers' lives are filled with drama, so it's no surprise that lawyers have landed gigs as consultants for movies and TV shows with legal plotlines. If your practice is particularly dramatic, perhaps you can just sell the rights to your story.