Tales from the Trenches: A Brief Interview with MFAN Co-founder Emerald Gratz

One of MFAN’s founders, Emerald Gratz, recently took a job with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings. We will miss her, and wanted to share her parting thoughts on freelancing with our readers. The interview has been modified for clarity.   MFAN: Congratulations! We’re glad you’ve connected with a great gig, but are sad you’re leaving the freelance community. Any regrets about freelancing? Emerald: Absolutely no regrets about freelancing! In building a freelance practice over three years, I learned several valuable lessons. First, I learned how to run my own business and everything that goes along with it: marketing, technology, necessary paperwork (billing, taxes, contracts) etc. Second, I practiced law in the private sector, something new to me. Third and most notably, I met and connected with (both professionally and personally) tons of new people in the legal community. MFAN: What was your favorite part of freelancing? Emerald: Connecting with new people. Being an enthusiastic extrovert, freelancing gave me a great reason to constantly pour energy into meeting and building relationships with new people in the legal community, both attorneys who might need freelance help as well as attorneys who could spread the good word about freelancing itself. Prior to freelancing, my network consisted primarily of public sector and government attorneys I knew because of my work at the AG’s Office and federal court. But freelancing allowed me to more than double my network and fill it with private sector connections. MFAN: Okay, what was your least favorite part? Emerald: Running my own business was challenging, especially the marketing part. MFAN: What surprised you the most about freelancing? Emerald: Over the course of three years, I never ceased being amazed by the variety of freelancing opportunities out there. It just took time, effort, and a calculated plan of attack! MFAN: How did freelancing affect your job search? Emerald: Freelancing...

Let a freelancer help you enjoy this fall!

Let a freelancer help you enjoy this fall! The State Fair has come and gone. Nightfall is coming earlier. There is a nip in the air at night. We all know what that means: summer has come and gone, and fall is here. But fall brings its own special pleasures. Let a freelancer help you with your workload, so you can enjoy the season.   What are some good fall opportunities? And what can you delegate to a freelancer to help make that happen? Five autumn ideas: Drive up to the North Shore and look at changing fall colors. Or drive down to Winona for more fall brilliance. Go to an apple orchard and pick up special apples and apple cider. Or go to a pumpkin patch and pick up pumpkins for carving. Go through a corn maze and ride on a hayride. Visit the scarecrow festival at Emma Krumbee’s. Kids will love this. Cruise the farmers’ market. Everything that comes in at the end of the season is in peak condition. All kinds of squash. Pumpkins. Gourds. Apples. Tomatoes and corn for a while. Some surprising things like rhubarb (my favorite). Head to one of the craft breweries. Take a tour and bring home a growler of your favorite. Stroll through a favorite museum. One idea is the History Center. A show that looks good is “Toys of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.” Featuring things like Gumby, Mr. Potato Head, and Hot Wheels. Again, might be fun to see with kids. Five things you can spin off – to free up more time: Some legal research. A freelancer can do some research you may need for trial or appellate briefs. Or just for assessing the strength of a case. Drafting some motion papers. A freelancer can draft motion papers for you. Pieces of a brief or a memorandum....

Freelance Attorneys and Immigration Law

Unfortunately, this sign—inviting visitors entering the United States on the Yukon River in Alaska to simply check in with U.S. Customs and Border Protection using the yellow phone on the side of the store in town—isn’t how most foreign nationals are instructed to enter the United States. Immigration law is complex and can be very time-consuming for both the attorney and the client. A freelance attorney can help an immigration attorney with many different kinds of filings, from I-601 waiver cover letters to Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) briefs. Many immigration attorneys are solo or small firm practitioners and it can be hard to sit down and focus on a lengthy written argument: the phone rings, clients drop by for a quick chat, or an email pops up that needs an immediate answer. Immigration attorneys should consider hiring a freelance attorney to write waiver cover letters, immigration court briefs, and Board of Immigration Appeals briefs because a freelance attorney can concentrate on the most important task: persuading the fact finder. Form I-601 and I-601A cover letters should turn your clients into more than paperwork in front of the immigration officer. An experienced freelance attorney can take a stack of hardship evidence and weave it into a compelling story regarding the hardship your clients would face if separated from each other or forced to move their lives abroad. Immigration court briefs and Board of Immigration Appeals briefs require analysis and research that can be very time consuming. The Board of Immigration Appeals typically give only 3 weeks to prepare your brief and it can be difficult to find the time to review the transcript and draft the brief in that time while you have other clients to manage. A freelance attorney can review the transcript and Record of Proceeding for legal errors made by the immigration judge and turn those...

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