Legal Consulting:
Is It For You?

By Amy Cashore Mariani

 


In the past few years, many lawyers have left law firm practice to use their legal skills in a variety of ways. One emerging trend is the development of legal consultant practices. Legal consulting provides individuals with opportunities to utilize their legal skills in ways not traditionally associated with firm practice. Before becoming a legal consultant, however, there are a number of factors that you should consider. Judy Loitherstein, an employment law consultant in the Boston area, has some helpful hints for those considering entering the realm of legal consulting.

Judy left large-firm practice to start her own consulting business after she saw many situations that needlessly escalated to litigation. After almost two years of balancing a litigation practice with two to three days a week of training, she decided to leave the traditional practice of law to become a consultant, focusing full-time on training and working with employers to develop business strategies for maximizing employee performance and minimizing legal liability.

Though she no longer practices in a traditional setting, Judy’s law degree and prior experiences as an employment litigator are invaluable. Specifically, her past experiences are the foundation for the training and consulting services that she provides. These services include advising employers who do not have their own in-house employment counsel on day-to-day employment law issues and conducting investigations into allegations of employee misconduct. This work incorporates her legal knowledge as well as the skills she developed as a supervisor and human resources professional before becoming a lawyer.

Judy feels that the biggest challenge for any consultant is identifying the services that you want to provide, and to develop a strategy to market to the clients interested in those services. Judy first focused her marketing efforts on in-house lawyers because legal departments often purchase legal services, but she soon realized that her services align more closely with human resources departments, and she tailored her marketing accordingly. Judy now focuses her networking on local and national organizations that attract human resources professionals. According to Judy, identifying and marketing to the correct client base is a significant step that any consultant needs to accomplish in order to succeed.

For those considering leaving traditional practice, Judy recommends assessing all of your strengths and experiences, not just your legal experience, to see how they combine to make you different from other “nonlawyer lawyers” out there. She also suggests that it is important to spend some time in a traditional legal practice to develop a solid understanding of the legal issues in the subject area in which you wish to provide services; this enables you to offer something to your clients that a nonlawyer consultant cannot.

In short, preparation, planning, appropriate marketing, and hard work are the keys to success as a legal consultant. For further information on Judy’s business, please contact her at Judy S. Loitherstein, Esq., Loitherstein Employment Law Services, 617-738-6333, jsl@jslemploymentlaw.com.


Amy Cashore Mariani is a contract attorney in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who specializes in the defense of employment discrimination and complex tort claims. At present, she is of counsel to the law firm of Fitzhugh, Parker & Alvaro, LLP in Boston, Massachusetts.

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