Everybody’s Got a Side Hustle These Days, but Should Lawyers?
We live in what has been called the “gig economy.” It seems like everyone has a side hustle where they’re earning extra income – Uber drivers, dog walkers, ghost writers, podcasters, renting out their primary residence. You name it and there’s likely a niche market. But should lawyers be looking to take advantage of this still-new and pliable economy?
Based on this blog having been a side hustle for me for a couple of years now, you should be able to anticipate my answer. If you have an interest that you can monetize, whether it complements your practice or is something entirely apart from your work as a lawyer, you should consider engaging the endeavor. I’ve talked to numerous lawyers who have found additional fulfillment and purpose in their side hustles, which enabled them to pursue interests their daily law practices didn’t touch on.
Lawyers and Side Hustles, an interview with Curt Runger
To further discuss lawyers having a side hustle, I reached out to a Tennessee lawyer, Curt Runger, who launched an attorney mentoring project a few years ago. Here’s what Runger has to say about his experience.
JWR: What is your side hustle?
CR: I run AttorneyMentors.com which is a membership website where solo lawyers can go to receive training on all things related to their practice, including online and offline marketing strategies, establishing systems for their practice, practice management skills, etc. The individuals who come through my signature program, the Solo Practice Master Class, get access to over 20 hours of video training, access to a private Facebook group, regular group coaching calls and individual coaching call with me over Zoom.
JWR: What was your motivation for starting your side hustle?
CR: I had been practicing law for 12 years and had grown my practice from a one man outfit to a team of 4 attorneys, but I really felt as though I needed a new challenge. I loved motivating people and loved marketing and wanted to find a way to incorporate those passions into a business outside of my law practice. I also saw a shift in the landscape of the legal profession coming on and realized there were so many young attorneys out there who were not as lucky as I had been when it came to having a strong attorney mentor. I could see newer and younger attorneys really struggling in their practices and wanted to serve them. The best way for me to serve them was by creating AttorneyMentors.com and structuring a program that could reach people all throughout the United States.
JWR: What was your goal for your side hustle when you started?
CR: I had multiple goals. I obviously wanted to create a business and brand that would allow me to serve solo lawyers, but I also wanted to be able to feel passionate about the work I was doing on a daily basis, which was something that was not happening practicing law. The immediate goal was to get a program together like the Solo Practice Master Class that I could be proud of and start building up Attorney Mentors brand.
JWR: What are your goals now?
CR: To really focus on the brand awareness aspect of Attorney Mentors and continue to serve solo lawyers but to do it on a much bigger scale and to expand into other areas whether it be different type continuity programs or even CLEs.
JWR: Has your side hustle been worth the effort?
CR: Absolutely. Not only do I have the satisfaction of seeing something through that I started, but the satisfaction of knowing that what I created is awesome and helps attorneys. The most satisfying thing of it too is that many of my clients in Attorney Mentors have been practicing law for 10, 15 years, and to be able to help them take their practices where they want to go is amazing.
JWR: What advice would I have for others who are considering a side hustle?
CR: I could talk for an hour on this subject easily. I would say that the most important thing is that your side hustle has to be something you love. It takes an insane amount of work and you have to be willing to make major, major sacrifices sometimes to the detriment of your law practice and personal life in general. You really have to do a good job mapping out your time because your law practice clients deserve your best efforts as well, and they are the ones who are ultimately “financing” your side hustle because it takes money to build up a business.
You have to be smart about outsourcing and get good people in place for those tasks that can be outsourced. In my case, I was entering into a whole new world online. I had no clue about running a direct sales marketing business and there was a lot of stuff involved that was and that remains completely over my head. That being said, I was fortunate to find great people to work with and really figured out pretty quickly where my time and energy was best spent in building up my company.
The one thing you have to realize that I can’t emphasize enough is that you have to be consistent and show up for your business on a daily basis. It seems so elementary, but the majority of people who start side hustles don’t ever see them through because of the massive amount of work it takes and the lack of seeing instantaneous results. You also need a proper mindset and be able to not worry about what everyone else is doing, and you have to learn to avoid self-sabotaging thoughts or habits that will hold you back if you aren’t equipped to deal with them.
Considering a side hustle? Come on in. The water’s fine.
Do you have a side hustle that you’re considering? There are plenty of examples of other lawyers who have successfully explored theirs. I can name more than a dozen right off the top of my head. Some have even been so successful with their side projects that it became their primary occupation. I recommend that you do the research to determine whether there’s a market for your endeavor, then make a plan and set some goals. Or you can do what I did and just jump in more or less blindly and figure things out as you go along.
Interested in reading interviews with other lawyers? Here are some of the interview that been on this blog:
- Keith Lee, founder of LawyerSmack and Associate’s Mind, on whether lawyers should be bloggers
- Steve Heninger on using storytelling to connect with juries
- David Graves on client management as a personal injury lawyer
- Stacy Moon on making the transition from associate to partner
Photo by Chris Guillebeau.