As a lawyer, you’ve spent a significant sum of money to gain the knowledge and qualifications to pursue your career. It’s likely that you’re facing a large amount of student loan debt after four years of undergraduate education followed by law school.
Lawyers can make a six-figure income, with a median annual salary of $126,930 as of May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, many graduates emerge from law school saddled with as much or more than that in student loans.
Recent data from the Department of Education found that law graduates had an average law school debt of $145,500. Even if your total debt load is less than that or your income is above-average, you might still struggle to pay off the entirety of your loans from law school.
Many workers today earn extra income through side hustles outside of their full-time job. The American Bar Association Journal recently reported on the trend:
“It’s common to see lawyers leveraging their expertise by teaching classes or consulting, and many engage in complementary endeavors such as selling title insurance or providing financial planning services.”
As an attorney, you might be hard-pressed to find any time for side jobs, so it’s likely most efficient to focus on building your value to your employer. Positioning yourself for future promotions can be the best route to earning more money. But if you do pursue a side job, remember that your skills as a lawyer are in high demand and you deserve to be paid well.
For lawyers who are deeply in debt, refinancing your student loans might be the best way forward. However, if you work in the public sector and plan to pursue student loan forgiveness, refinancing removes that possibility.
Side jobs for lawyers can be found within the legal field to maximize the benefits of your degree, but there’s also some benefit to looking outside of your legal career to earn more money.
Be mindful of how side jobs might overlap with your legal career and recognize that you can more easily avoid ethical implications by keeping your side job separate from your legal practice. Also, double-check that there isn’t a conflict of interest or breach of contract with your current employer before accepting a side gig.
16. Choose a high-paying legal specialty
Some specialties within the legal field pay more lucratively than others, so you might make extra money by choosing one of them. Medical lawyers, tax attorneys, trial attorneys, corporate lawyers, and those working in intellectual property are generally among the highest-paid legal specialties.
15. Teach LSAT and bar exam test prep courses
You’ll probably never forget how stressful and challenging it was to prepare for the LSAT and bar exam. Teaching test-preparation courses is one way to use your skills and experience to earn more money and help the next generation of lawyers to succeed.
Managing a website of resources for test preparation is a good way to attract clients. In conjunction with a website that offers LSAT and other law-oriented test preparation resources, you could monetize that information in other ways.
14. Advance toward partnership
Lawyers can earn significantly more money once they are promoted to a junior partner or eventually, senior partner. Payscale data shows an average base salary of $187,134 for law partners. What’s more, a recent survey showed an average income of $1.05 million in 2019 for partners at the top 200 U.S. law firms.
While not technically a side job, focusing your efforts on the goal of partnership at your firm might pay off more handsomely if you’re willing to put in the years.
13. Lead continuing legal education presentations
To make extra money as a lawyer, you might consider teaching continuing legal education (CLE) sessions. Lawyers are required to regularly earn continuing education hours to maintain their licensure, and qualified individuals are in demand to teach these courses.
Hourly requirements may vary slightly: for example, Kentucky attorneys must earn a minimum of 12.5 CLE credits annually. Colorado attorneys need 45 credits for each three-year period, for an average of 15 credits per year.
12. Teach adjunct law school courses
Lawyers are great candidates for teaching law school or pre-law courses as an adjunct professor. You could get to use different skills as a teacher than you typically use in your everyday law duties.
Of course, you might also want to explore a passion by teaching adjunct courses in a completely different subject area.
11. Work as a lawyer through an online marketplace
You might handle overflow work or provide legal counsel through an online marketplace like UpCounsel. This would enable you to take on a flexible amount of additional work. Just be sure that it doesn’t conflict with your contract at your full-time employer first.
At UpCounsel, lawyers can set their rates and select the types of jobs they’re most willing and qualified to do. There are several other online marketplaces for legal work that you can pursue on a freelance basis.
Side hustles for lawyers
10. Create ebooks or audiobooks
Lawyers possess extremely strong verbal and written skills, and writing a book is one way to showcase that. Whether you prefer to write about a legal topic or something completely out of that niche, you could publish through an ebook platform to earn more income indefinitely.
Changing the format to audiobooks doesn’t take much more time and effort. You can narrate your books yourself or pay a professional narrator to provide the audio. Since more people are turning to audiobooks to learn while multitasking, this is another way to share your knowledge.
9. Legal writing
You have a high level of expertise thanks to your years of education, training, and on-the-job experience. Putting that knowledge to use by writing for legal journals or publications is one way for attorneys to earn extra income by using the skills you paid so much to acquire. Plus, it showcases your expertise for potential clients or employers.
8. Become a public speaker
Skills you’ve honed throughout your education and legal career may prove very useful in a public-speaking side gig. After all, you know how to conduct research, develop presentations and captivate an audience.
Public speaking is a skill you can practice by joining Toastmasters or offering free speeches at community events. The more experience you gain, the higher the fees you’ll be able to charge, and of course, your law degree should give you a lot of credibility.
7. Be a business or life coach
Your expertise in the legal field could prove very valuable to others interested in the same career path. Even if you wanted to branch out beyond legal matters and simply provide guidance and a listening ear to people from any career field, you’ve gained plenty of skills in listening and offering counsel that could translate well into a life coaching setting.
6. Write grants
Lawyers can earn extra money through grant writing, especially if you can find clients in need of legal expertise. Companies and organizations may hire you to research new funding sources, gather important documentation and write detailed applications for funding.
5. Create a legal blog
Many people with specific expertise in a career field can build a paying side gig with an original blog. You might offer guidance on law school test preparation, bar exam test prep, tips for getting through law school, analyses of key court cases and much more. Blogging can lead to extra income through selling courses, ebooks, affiliate marketing or other means.
4. Become a virtual assistant for a law firm
It’s possible that you know a law firm that needs help with various tasks. Of course, virtual assistant work might be somewhat beneath your expertise and pay grade, but if you enjoy managing what other attorneys or your firm needs to outsource, this might be a good way to make extra money for a time.
3. Start a niche business
Whatever your special interest or talents are, why not explore ways to earn extra money following that path? Whether you run a home bakery, sell your photography or perform musical gigs on the weekends, there are ways to monetize your hobbies. While the pay likely won’t rival your legal salary, it could provide a much-needed creative or entrepreneurial outlet.
2. Tutor students
Tutoring is something you can do within your specialty of legal matters, but you might also branch out into any subject areas you enjoy, as long as you’re qualified. You might set up a tutoring profile with any of the many online tutoring platforms or set up your own personalized tutoring service.
1. Invest in real estate
Anyone can invest in real estate with the right mindset and the funds to get started. Real estate can be a great side job for lawyers because it may allow you to flex different muscles than you do for your full-time career. If you crave a physical challenge, for example, you might enjoy renovations that help you make more money by house-flipping.
Real estate investing is ideal for lawyers as well because you can spot the pitfalls as you’re handling the legal aspects of real estate transactions. You also may be earning a healthy salary and want to put a portion of that money into a tangible asset that will appreciate over the years. While paying off your law school debt is important, if you can also invest in real estate, that may be an effective way to grow your future wealth.
Start making more money as a lawyer
Your expertise as a lawyer is worth a great deal, so if a side job that uses those hard-earned skills is available, go for it. Legal salaries are tough to match with income from a side job. However, if you need a change of pace from your full-time job, a modestly paid side hustle or creative venture might fill that need.
Remember that refinancing your law school loans can be a good option to help you pay down student loans faster, but you should avoid it if you plan on using a federal loan forgiveness program at some point.