Here is a list of legal careers which are best fits for those seeking remote career options in the legal space. Read on!
Throughout 2020 as the pandemic forced many companies to switch to remote workforces, the legal industry was faced with some particularly difficult hurdles. The entire legal industry, not just lawyers and law firms, but also courthouses and trial schedules, had to adapt to this new world.
But it also created a lot of new opportunities for remote workers, both contracted and freelance, in the legal industry. So in this article, we’re going to look at some of those remote opportunities that have arisen, as well as challenges the legal industry will continue to face.
What types of legal careers are available online?
Freelancers in the legal industry will find no shortage of available roles to fill, especially as the world has moved towards remote work. Some of these roles include,
A good role for law students who are supporting themselves through law school. Legal researchers can perform tasks such as drafting documents and court filing and take advantage of free systems offered to law students for performing legal research.
Freelance legal research is a great option to fit into a law student’s busy schedule while earning income on the side, and combined with online bar prep courses, it can really prove advantageous to a legal student down the road in their career to build this kind of experience early.
Virtual Assistants and Secretaries
Performing all the same roles that a secretary or assistant would do in an office, typically focused on data entry, digital transcription services, legal document review and management, e-filings, billing and scheduling functions, as well as other clerical duties that would fall under this position.
Legal Translators and Interpreters
International litigation and dealing with international clients has exploded in recent years, which has created a need for legal interpreters, who are able to translate communications live during meetings, and document translators.
This is a very careful and methodical role because there is absolutely no room for errors when translating legal documents. Because of that, the rates legal translators can charge are pretty high, because signatories to a legal contract are depending on absolute accuracy in the translation of what they’re signing, and machine translation is still fairly unreliable at providing perfect accuracy.
Can actual lawyers work remotely or even freelance?
Yes absolutely, and this is a growing trend amongst an increasingly larger number of lawyers who are leaving private practice to take gig jobs for law firms, governmental agencies, and more. The most common duties are document review and document drafting.
The income may be smaller for freelance lawyers than what one would earn from contract work, but it offers a much better degree of work-life balance, as a freelance lawyer can choose what clients to take on, rather than be assigned cases they have no interest in. It’s a great option especially for attorneys freshly graduated from law school to gain experience and build a portfolio.
As far as working 100% remotely, it really depends on the area of legal practice. It’s entirely possible to complete most legal work remotely and meet with clients through video meetings. While special situations may call for visiting the courthouse, overall many courts have enacted modified operations, such as video conference hearings, because of the pandemic.
But either way, there are a lot of modern technologies to enable lawyers to work remotely, such as electronic document signature, cloud hosting services, and modern cybersecurity and encryption measures to make sure data stays secure.
The Challenge of Layoffs and Automated Technology
One thing to be aware of is how newer technologies are able to replace human labor at law firms, and several firms throughout 2020 underwent layoffs as transitions to remote workforces, combined with technology, were introduced.
Some jobs in the legal industry will be made obsolete by technology, this is simply an inevitability. In fact, experts already say that 23% of lawyers’ work can be automated, and even more so for clerical duties and paralegal researchers, where AI-driven legal research tools can process thousands of legal cases to find precedents.
Observers in the legal industry believe that firms will quietly continue layoffs throughout 2021, but law firms aren’t looking to completely replace human employees. With remote work becoming the norm, more opportunities have actually opened to freelancers in the legal industry, as law firms look to outsource work without investing too many inexpensive artificial intelligence solutions just yet.
Law firms also face unique challenges in an exclusively remote environment, and it takes a strong firm culture to integrate lawyers when a hub office isn’t available. Some lawyers at distributed firms, where most operations are conducted remotely, are also skeptical of whether brick-and-mortar firms that attempt to go completely remote workforce will pass the overhead savings to associates and nonequity partners.