Three Tips for Setting up a Freelance Practice in a New State

woman-workingI didn’t realize the power of a network until I moved from Minnesota—where I went to law school and worked for three years—to Utah, where my network consisted of only a few family members who were attorneys. Over the past few months, I have learned some key lessons in building a new practice in a new state.


  1. Ask other attorneys, “Whom should I talk to?” When I moved to Utah, I opened an appellate and freelance practice. I spent the first few months talking to the few attorneys I did know and asking them about which attorneys in the area did appellate work. I then contacted those attorneys and went out to lunch with them. And I asked them whom I should talk to. I did the same thing with freelancing—I asked those I knew about which attorneys could use some freelancing services. This way, I started to develop relationships with the group of attorneys who could either use my services or refer cases to me.
  2. Get involved in organizations where your ideal client is. I had to figure out who my ideal client was and who would refer those ideal clients to me. The next step was figuring out where those ideal clients and referral sources would be. For me, both my freelance clients and my referral sources for appeals were solo and small law firms (large law firms have in-house appellate groups, so my services would be redundant). So I got involved in a few Utah State Bar organizations where I expected the solos and smalls would be. I originally attended bar organizations for women, young lawyers, and labor and employment; I have recently reassessed where I found the most success so that I can narrow my focus, and I have consequently cut out the labor and employment section. I also attended several CLEs that were focused on solos and smalls so that I could meet attorneys there.
  3. Keep in contact with your old network. Some of my most interesting work at my new firm came through a law school colleague that I connected with a few months before I left Minnesota. That connection resulted in three amicus briefs—two before the US Supreme Court and one before the Eleventh Circuit. So check in with prior colleagues once in a while!
Emily Adams started her own firm, Adams Legal LLC, where she focuses on appellate and freelance work. Before starting her own firm, Emily graduated magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, from the University of Minnesota Law School… She clerked for two years on the state appellate and federal district courts. She then worked for a small law firm. Emily is licensed in the state and federal courts of Utah and Minnesota, the Eleventh Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. .

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