5 alternative tips to thriving as a freelance lawyer

Supercharge your freelance legal career

As a freelance lawyer or paralegal, you have control over how you work. From the hours you choose to work to the variety of work and clients. Here are our five alternative tips to thriving as a legal consultant.

#1 Spend some time with your emotions ​

As a freelance lawyer, hitting the ground running is second nature to you. Beyond the application of your legal expertise, this extends to constantly adapting to different work environments and organisational cultures, building relationships with new and diverse personalities, and getting to grips with what can be high-stress situations with looming deadlines or supporting legal teams in a crisis.

Being aware of your emotions is fundamental to helping lawyers be happy and successful throughout their careers, as explained by Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare, the mental wellbeing charity for the legal community.

Fit for Law, is a free online interactive learning resource on emotional competence and professional resilience. The course, developed by LawCare in collaboration with academics at the Open University and the University of Sheffield, takes approximately 4 hours to complete.

“[As a lawyer] You need to be able to recognise and identify in yourself (and others) the emotions that drive your decisions, your reactions, your interactions with others, and how you feel about yourself.”
Elizabeth Rimmer

CEO , LawCare

#2 Take 60 seconds a day to practice Kaizen

A quick Google search on “skills of a successful lawyer” brings up pages of results, evidence of the varied skillset required to succeed in the legal profession of today. As interim legal counsel, honing your skills – legal, commercial and personal – is important for a successful consultant career.

When it comes to continuous improvement – consistency is key. Little and often resulting in significant change over time. A great example of this is the Japanese practice of Kaizen, or the one-minute principle.

At the heart of this method is the idea that you should practice doing something for a single minute, every day at the same time. Through daily repetition, you will gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing the task which you have set yourself and over time, this technique will help you develop new habits, gain confidence in a new skill or hone an existing competency.

What will you try for 60 seconds today? And tomorrow and the day after!


#3 Get involved in the Obelisk consultant community  

We understand that working as a freelance lawyer can mean fewer opportunities to network with peers to exchange ideas and share experiences. So why not get more involved in the Obelisk consultant community?

  • Join our Obelisk “Move the Needle” event series: This is an opportunity to meet fellow consultants at Obelisk and, with new guest speakers each month, gain valuable learnings. Topics range from “Making a great impact: how to inspire confidence as a freelance consultant” to “How to build personal resilience”, “Conquering self-doubt” and “Setting goals”.
  • Attend an in-person social: Our social events are a chance to network with your peers in a relaxed environment – and for us to say thank you to our community
  • Stay ahead: From the latest industry insights and tech tips to exclusive legal and soft skill training opportunities, stay ahead as part of the Obelisk consultant community

Whether just starting out or with years of experience as a freelance lawyer or freelance paralegal, why not find out more about the benefits of joining our consultant community?


#4 Prioritise three numbers: 1.8 million, 20 and 68

Did you know that if you dedicate only 20 minutes of your time to reading every day, it is estimated that you will get exposed to 1.8 million words yearly leading to increased general knowledge, communication and analytical skills?

Research has also shown that adults who read have higher levels of empathy and emotional intelligence.

Moreover, when you spend at least 20 minutes reading, you ultimately reduce your stress, anxiety, and the chances of suffering from insomnia. It has been proven that only 6 minutes of reading can reduce stress by 68%. Imagine what you can achieve in twenty!

This is sage advice considering the stark findings of  the LawCare “Life in the Law” 2020/2021 report which demonstrated that legal professionals are at a high risk of burnout with 69% having experienced mental ill-health related to stress at work.

To get you started, why not take a look at our top three picks on top reads:

Five favourite books by women lawyers turned authors

Sorted: summer reading recommendations for busy lawyers

Something to read (or listen to) this holiday


#5 Immerse yourself in “divergent thinking” to disconnect

Do you struggle to disconnect from work? Mentally organising tomorrow’s ‘to do’ list, replaying a conversation from earlier in the day, mulling solutions over and over to a current project?

As a freelance legal consultant or paralegal, working flexibly can mean juggling different roles at the same time; needing to balance work and study or possibly carrying the heavier load on organising personal and family commitments to name but a few – all of which requires bucketloads of mental agility to stay on top of everything.

An ability to intellectually disengage from work is beneficial to quicker problem-solving and means you can focus on other priorities without distraction.

Peter Shallard, former psychotherapist turned consultant, recommends deeply immersing yourself in an activity that fully occupies your mind to help surface solutions or “divergent thinking”.

From origami to training a bonsai tree. Or getting lost in the scents of cooking or focusing on every crease when folding clothes. What activity can you get absorbed in today?

“This is why people build little ships inside of glass bottles as a way of unwinding, because when you can occupy that conscious side of your brain and allow the more intuitive creative processes to occur, that’s often going to be a lot more relaxing [and] lead to better actual solutions.”
Peter Shallard

Founder and CEO, Commit Action

Bonus tip! Be remembered with #randomactsofkindness

The past two years have been challenging for many, on so many levels.  Whether dealing with the added pressure of home schooling and childcare or coping with the impact of loneliness and isolation from friends – there is no denying the impact of the pandemic on our lives.

The LawCare Impact Report released in January this year revealing that the number of people contacting LawCare experiencing stress has seen the biggest increase from 2020 to 2021  – a rise of 24%.

Here at Obelisk, we are also proud to recognise the importance of creating a legal profession which is more inclusive and puts its most valuable asset – people, front and centre. #HumanFirst was our founding principle and we continue to honour this ethic today.

We have been inspired by celebrating #randomactsofkindness week earlier in February how each of us can help to build a workplace of kindness – whether you join for a week to help out on a quick turnaround project, support a virtual team on an ongoing basis, or are in an interim legal counsel placement for a period of time.

From replying to a social media post that inspired you to writing a positive comment on a website or blog – the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has some great ideas on how you can build a ‘culture of kindness’ in every interaction.

What act will you choose to start your kindness ripple?


“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

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