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Are you interested in working in the legal field but you don’t want to be a lawyer? No problem! There are lots of different types of legal careers available to non-lawyers.
Many of these careers are freelance careers. Many of them allow you to work at home too.
With some of the 7 freelance legal careers detailed in this post, you work directly with lawyers. With others, you don’t work with lawyers at all. Some of these freelance careers are an integral part of the legal field. Some are more loosely associated with it.
Familiarity with legal terminology and legal concepts is important when you work in the legal field. In some of the following freelance legal jobs, it’s probably best that you live in or have lived in the country where that job is located. This is so that you will have insider familiarity with that country’s legal system. You’ll then be better able to understand things that people unfamiliar with that country’s legal system might not understand.
I first wrote this post in 2019 and now have completely revamped and updated it for 2023 so you’ll have lots of accurate new information. Now let’s look at 7 great freelance work-at-home legal careers for non-lawyers.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Freelance Proofreader for Court Reporters
A proofreader for court reporters carefully reads every word of court transcripts produced by court reporters or digital recording devices to check for accuracy of spelling, grammar, punctuation and layout. They pay careful attention to the details of the transcripts, as they are the final person who checks these transcripts before they’re turned over to lawyers and judges.
Job outlook for proofreaders for court reporters
Proofreading transcripts for court reporters is a growing freelance career. There will always be court cases and always the need for accurate court transcripts.
Freelance proofreaders for court reporters salary
Proofreaders charge a fee for each page they proofread. According to a Best Scoping Techniques 2022 survey of freelance proofreaders for court reporters, the rate charged per page varies between 40 cents and 65 cents. 50 cents per page is the average rate.
How to become a court transcript proofreader
Proofreading for court reporters is more involved than many people think it will be. You really should have professional proofreading training before offering your services.
There are several online courses which will teach you how to be a proofreader. However, there is only one that will teach you specifically how to be a proofreader for court reporters. Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice by Proofread Anywhere was created by a woman who herself worked for several years as a freelance proofreader for court reporters. This course teaches students exactly what they need to know in order to earn income proofreading court transcripts.
Decide whether you’re interested in enrolling in Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice without spending any money by taking the Proofread Anywhere free mini-course first.
Where to find proofreading for court reporters jobs
When looking for transcript proofreading jobs, reach out to court reporting firms and courthouses to offer your services. You can also find proofreading for court reporters jobs in Facebook groups such as:
- Proofreader Needed Today (Proofreaders for Court Reporters) group here
- Scopists & Proofreaders – NCRA group here
- Job Board – Steno/Voice Reporters, CAT Scopists & Experienced Proofers group here
Freelance Work-at-Home Paralegal
One of the best-known legal careers for non-lawyers is that of paralegal. A paralegal is a non-lawyer who has been trained in legal matters and works in the legal field. Paralegals are basically legal assistants to lawyers.
Freelance work-at-home paralegals perform the same tasks as in-house paralegals such as communicating with clients, doing legal research and preparing legal reports.
Job outlook for paralegals
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for paralegals is 14%, much faster than the national average.
Freelance paralegal salary
The average salary for paralegals in the United States is between $54,090 and $106,500, according to Salary.com.
How to become a paralegal
Education requirements for paralegals vary across countries, regions and law firms. Most paralegals at least in the U.S. should have a minimum of a two-year degree and frequently a Bachelor’s degree. You will probably also need paralegal certification. There are many brick and mortar as well as online programs where you can learn how to become a paralegal.
Where to find freelance paralegal jobs
Look for freelance paralegal jobs on sites such as:
Job search sites like Indeed and Simply Hired also list openings for freelance work-at-home paralegals.
Freelance Legal Transcriptionist
Attorneys, paralegals and other legal professionals hire freelance legal transcriptionists to produce the documents they need in order to do their jobs every day. This is one of the best freelance legal careers for non-lawyers. Legal transcriptionists listen to audio recordings of correspondence, interviews and more, simultaneously typing them up into verbatim written documents.
Job outlook for freelance legal transcriptionists
Transcribe Anywhere, an online school which teach legal transcription, says the amount of work given to transcriptionists is growing all the time. In this interview with the founder of Transcribe Anywhere you’ll learn what the future may hold for legal transcriptionists.
Freelance legal transcriptionist salary
According to Salary.com, the average legal transcriptionist salary in the United States is $41,513 per year.
How to become a freelance legal transcriptionist
You shouldn’t jump into legal transcription without knowing what you’re doing. It’s best to take professional legal transcription training first. This free mini-course will give you an idea of what the Transcribe Anywhere legal transcription training is like.
Where to find freelance legal transcriptionist jobs
There are plenty of companies where you can find legal transcription work. SpeakWrite is one such place. This post on 12 places to get freelance transcription jobs will give you even more ideas. You can also find legal transcription jobs on job search sites like Indeed.com and Simply Hired.
A freelance scopist transcribes words which are typed onto steno machines by court reporters into final official court transcripts. This is very different from transcribing words from audio files into typewritten court documents. Transcribing audio files into typewritten documents is done by a transcriptionist. Read a detailed definition of scopist here.
Job outlook for scopists
According to Linda Evenson, founder of Internet Scoping School, the future of the scopist profession is bright. There will always be court cases taken down by court reporters onto steno machines, so there will always be scopists.
Freelance scopist salary
According to Internet Scoping School, a well-trained new scopist can earn $30,000 a year. A more experienced scopist can earn over $60,000 a year. Learn details of what scopists earn here.
How to become a freelance scopist
Many scopists were trained as court reporters. If you haven’t trained as a court reporter, you will need professional scopist training. Take a free scopist mini-course here to see what it’s like.
Where to find scopist jobs
Once you become a scopist, you will find scopist jobs primarily by connecting with court reporters in Facebook groups and elsewhere. If you take formal scopist training, the scopist training school will also help you with finding court reporter clients. Learn 16 great places to find scopist jobs here.
Freelance Court Reporter
A freelance court reporter is different from an official court reporter. Official court reporters work in court. Freelance court reporters works outside of court. Freelance court reporters take down testimony on their steno machines at depositions, arbitrations, hearings and other matters, both legal and non-legal. After they take down the testimony on their steno machines, they transcribe that testimony into transcripts.
There are also people who make audio recordings of testimony, both in court and outside of court. They frequently call themselves court reporters but they are not.
Job outlook for freelance court reporters
Many non-court matters still take place on Zoom rather than in person, even now in 2023. Because of this, many freelance court reporters are now working exclusively from home. Other freelance court reporters work exclusively on-site. Still others handle a mix of remote and on-site work.
The job outlook for freelance court reporters is good, as legal cases are not going anywhere and the quality of court reporter transcripts is far higher than transcripts produced by digital recorders.
Freelance court reporter salary
Freelance court reporters are paid for every page of the transcripts that they produce. Freelance court reporters who work at home are paid the same as those who work on-site. Pay varies based on geographic location and type of work. No matter these factors, if you work full time as a freelance court reporter you can earn a very healthy income of well over $50,000 per year.
How to become a court reporter
You should study court reporting at a brick and mortar court reporting school. It takes a minimum of two years to get through court reporting school.
Where to find freelance court reporting jobs
Most freelance court reporters take work from one or more court reporting firms. Some of this work is remote and some of it is on-site. After you have some experience and some clients, you can request only work that will allow you to work at home full time.
Freelance Virtual Legal Assistant
A virtual legal assistant is someone who’s hired by a lawyer or law firm as a legal assistant and does their work remotely rather than in person.
Legal virtual assistants perform tasks such as bookkeeping, answering phones, social media marketing, calendar management. event planning, meeting organization, lead generation, website content creation and a lot more.
Job outlook for virtual legal assistants
With the world shifting increasingly towards freelancing and now with so many people still working remotely, the future for virtual legal assistants is very bright. There will always be lawyers, so there will always be legal assistants.
Freelance virtual legal assistant salary
According to Zip Recruiter, virtual legal assistant salary is on average $47,132 a year or $23 an hour.
How to become a virtual legal assistant
If you already have virtual assistant experience or if you know how to do any of the tasks that virtual assistants do, you may already have the skills it takes to be a virtual legal assistant.
If not, there are lots of different online courses you can take which will teach you the skills you need. For example, in the Fully Booked VA bundle of courses you can learn how to be an email VA and a project management VA, both of which are useful skills in the legal world.
Where to find virtual legal assistant jobs
There are lots of places where you can find virtual legal assistant jobs such as:
You can also find virtual legal assistant jobs on job search sites like GlassDoor and Indeed.com.
Freelance Notary Public
In the United Kingdom and Australia, being a notary is a big deal, and most notaries are lawyers. In some provinces of Canada, notaries must have a law degree and in other provinces they must have taken a university course. In the United States, though, most anyone can become a notary. This is a good thing for people who want to work at home in the U.S., as notaries can bring in a bit of income.
In the United States, a freelance notary public is an individual certified by the state in which they live to perform notarial functions, such as notarizing documents and swearing in witnesses for legal testimony. In some states, notaries can legally marry people.
Many notaries work in offices but other notaries work at home. A notary can work with businesses or individuals, or a combination of the two.
Job outlook for notaries
Notaries perform several tasks, all of which are necessary in the legal world. Depending on where you live, there could be quite a lot of notary work available into the foreseeable future.
Freelance notary public salary
The National Notary Association says once you have more than three years experience, you can earn over $7,500 a month as a notary public.
How to become a notary public
Each state in the U.S. has its own requirements for being a notary. The National Notary Association has a searchable database of each state’s guidelines and rules, so it’s a good idea to review the requirements in your location. Wherever you live, you probably need to be at least 18, complete training, pass a test and buy supplies in order to work as a notary at home. Read some FAQs about how to become a notary here.
Where to find notary jobs
As a freelance notary, you will likely have to market your services. The National Notary Association recommends looking for notary jobs by:
- posting your business profile online
- telling people you’re a notary public
- visiting local businesses
- networking with other notaries
- developing a social media presence
- posting your business profile online
Conclusion to 7 Freelance Work-at-Home Legal Careers for Non-Lawyers
You definitely don’t have to be a lawyer to work in the legal field. While lots of people know about some of these legal careers, others are lesser known. Hopefully in this post you’ve found a freelance legal career you’re interested in and want to pursue. Maybe this post has even lead you to sign up for professional training in whatever career you have interest. If so, you’re headed in the right direction. The legal arena is an excellent way to have job security and make great money.
Want to learn more about how to work at home as a freelancer? Take my free mini-course here.
(This updated post was first published on October 10, 2019.)
Sabina Lohr is a lifelong freelancer turned entrepreneur who created World of Freelancers to help others discover how to work for themselves online and live the freelance lifestyle. She’s always really enjoyed the freedom that freelancing brings, including several years on and off of working online while traveling and living abroad.