High Paying, Part-Time Work
January 28, 2013 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Please help me brainstorm ways to supplement my soon-to-be-radically-reduced income.

I'm a junior associate at a BigLaw firm in Boston and am, unsurprisingly, unhappy. Very soon, I hope to be able to quit and work as an Assistant District Attorney, which will mean my salary will go from ~$170k to ~$37k.

I've thought a lot about making the change and think the financial sacrifice will be well-worth it. I am not looking for advice about whether to make the switch.

But I may need to do a bit of part-time work on nights/weekends to help make ends meet. I've already thought about a number of possible options to bring in more cash. I'm hoping you can help me brainstorm more.

More details (as I'm posting this anonymously):
  • I am in the Boston area.
  • I'm open to working for myself or as a part-time employee.
  • I will clear any work with the DA's office. Obviously this means I cannot do anything illegal or anything that would constitute the practice of law. It also means I cannot do things that are legal but might reflect poorly on the office (no MLM jobs, no self-publishing erotic fiction for Kindle). Finally, it means that I will report any earnings to the IRS. I'll get no particular benefit from jobs that tend to pay in cash/otherwise under the table.
  • I'm a man in my mid-20s and in good physical shape but have no particular skills other than mushy liberal arts ones: writing, critical analysis, etc.
  • Please assume I'm already minimizing my expenditures (including moving and reducing other expenses) and will obtain all loan-repayment assistance that's available.
I'm looking for something that would require no more than 5-10 hours per week and would maximize my income in terms of $/hr.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (24 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Even accounting for the fact that you'd have to report the cash income, I've had friends and family make decent money delivering pizzas. It definitely depends on your area, though.
posted by odinsdream at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can you do other things that use your legal training besides practicing law -- freelance legal assistant/paralegal type thing?
posted by ottereroticist at 12:18 PM on January 28, 2013

Private tutoring for the LSAT.
posted by yohko at 12:19 PM on January 28, 2013 [21 favorites]

Can you tutor law or pre-law students, or offer one-on-one practice for graduates studying for the bar exam?
posted by Breav at 12:19 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

I taught ACT classes for Kaplan about ten years ago and at that time, the pay was $15/hour. I'm betting they'd pay more for LSAT (but it would probably still be more profitable to tutor privately).
posted by jabes at 12:20 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yeah, LSAT tutoring was in high demand back when I was tutoring. I had never even taken the test, but the Kaplan branch I did SAT and GRE tutoring for trained me to take it and then tutor a few classes for it. Private tutoring is certainly more lucrative, but it forces you to do the legwork to find new students on your own.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:24 PM on January 28, 2013

Grading BARBRI exams isn't great pay, but it's readily available work (a public defender friend does it).
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:24 PM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

I also thought about teaching and tutoring... maybe tutoring HS students in writing or helping them with college applications? I bet you could get paid pretty well for that in some of the more affluent suburbs.
posted by chickenmagazine at 12:24 PM on January 28, 2013

I'm not a lawyer, but I do something similar right now as a half-time strategy consultant, half-time grad student. However, my hours per week vary tremendously by project needs, and I keep it only to former clients with whom I have a an established rapport. Basically, they solicit me for work vs. the other way around, and I charge them basically the same as I was billed out for when I worked for a midsized consulting firm. They get more 1 on 1 service from me and the knowledge that I'm not juggling their project and 6 others between myself and a bunch of analysts/junior associates, but obviously I can't handle a really large project for them that would require dozens or hundreds of hours a month.

If you wanted to have a more controlled stream of work and you don't have 1 or 2 BigLaw clients who've come to depend on you, specifically (which would make sense with what I know of large law firms), you could try being a subcontractor for a very small consultancy or specialty law firm with 1-2 partners. I've also seen some law folks with technical skills try freelance IP consulting in my field (patent searches & freedom to operate analyses for smaller companies without in-house counsel, etc.).

The highest pay per hour will definitely involve leveraging your networking skills, though, with an upfront time investment.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:26 PM on January 28, 2013

I've already thought about a number of possible options to bring in more cash.

May I suggest that you also consider all ways you can reduce your need for cash. When I started working for less money, I took a knife to my living expenses. Riding a bicycle instead of a car is a huge cost saver. Every 10 bucks a month you avoid spending is a part-time hour you don't need work.

Let your lifestyle accommodate your income and not the other way around and you'll never notice the difference.
posted by three blind mice at 12:29 PM on January 28, 2013 [10 favorites]

How about babysitting? In Boston the rate for evenings and weekends must be around $15/hour.

ADA pays only $37k?? Wow. But good on you for making the switch.
posted by yarly at 12:32 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Or bartending?

You may want to pick a job that doesn't require thinking, reading, or writing -- could be easier after a long day in court not to have to use your brain in the same way.
posted by yarly at 12:33 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Look into Leapforce or Lionbridge, or other similar companies.
posted by tweedle at 12:48 PM on January 28, 2013

I live on what about half you're proposing to make right now, so it's doable.

Housing, transportation, and food are typically a person's three big expenses. You ought to be able to make a decent dent in each of these and get your new costs in line with your new income. For example, if you can find a way to eliminate your daily commute (live close to work, ride a bike, public transportation), you can downgrade your car to an older honda civic or a similar "older, but reliable" car in the $3-$5k range and use the cash outlay to pay down loans or add to your savings.

I'm willing to bet that you can cut your current spending at least in half, and possibly by two thirds just by tackling those three areas. That will free you up to need less income, which is even more powerful in some ways than making more money because it will give you freedom to choose the kind of job and life you want without having to worry as much about finances.

If tackling the big three alone will not be enough, you can take a look at financial independence/frugality/early retirement websites for ideas on how to cut costs (without sacrificing living standards) in other areas of your life.
posted by zug at 1:16 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Regarding what yarly said about babysitting - I put myself through college as a part-time nanny; sometimes babysitting too. I had a couple "regular" families who were awesome, and babysitting was a great gig. One of my best friends had a "driver" growing up. This is what they called their "manny" = male nanny/babysitter - two little boys with a single mom (a district attorney, funnily enough). Anyway, there's definitely a market for male babysitters, and playing with other people's (hopefully) good-natured kids a couple evenings/afternoon a week I found to be a nice balance to intellectual/very adult work.

I also assisted wedding photographers (I was a photo major), which eats up your sat or sun, but is periodic, and a nice little chunk of cash for a relatively pleasant day (hauling equipment around, standing in the back clicking away on a hasselblad, going to a wedding, etc.). Take a few community college classes or an extension course at one of the several Boston area art schools and ask around. =) (Best part? You're not "the photographer" - so you don't have to stress out like he does, and you don't really have to deal with "the bride" or "the mother" or whoever's being a pain.) On a side note, retouching photos used to pay really well, but is really tedious.

Good luck!!
posted by jrobin276 at 1:17 PM on January 28, 2013

I know you aren't asking for opinions about the switch, but I left BigLaw for a career in publishing about five years ago. My salary fell by 80% and I have not regretted it for one second.

Both Demand Media and Nolo hire freelance writers and editors with legal training. The pay is... not great, but can be decent if you choose topics you already know a lot about. And you can do it in your pajamas on your own schedule.
posted by payoto at 1:22 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding tutoring. If you were at a top law school and LSAT'ed well you can charge well over $50/hr (a listing of Boston-area LSAT tutors).
posted by en forme de poire at 1:51 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

In addition to the suggestions already given, you might consider something more scalable and passive. For example, you might look at what's out there for online, study-on-your-own LSAT prep sites and decide that you can do it better/cheaper/whatever.

I'm a consultant but also get a nice passive income (about $1.5-2k a month) from a membership site that teaches people to do what I do. The people using the site study on their own, although sometimes they send me questions that I can quickly answer. The initial investment was mostly time (writing the stuff), plus a logo, a pro Wordpress theme, and an inexpensive plugin that turns a Wordpress site into a membership site. You'd also need to invest time online to promote the site (a blog and some participation in forums works for me), but even with that time investment, you could get a higher return for your time than with face-to-face tutoring, and with no scheduling hassles or no-shows.

Along similar lines are one-time workshops (such as a weekend) to provide tips for the LSAT or whatever it is that lawyers need. If when you research the market you see that people are charging decent amounts for a two-day intensive, you can probably charge that, too. I do these sorts of workshops as well, and the initial time investment in designing and tweaking the curriculum soon pays for itself over and over again. There's some time investment as you market and handle registration (a virtual assistant can help with that), then you have two intense days, and for about a week or two afterwards some questions might trickle in, but basically you make a nice pile of money in a short time. You can coast for a month or so, and then do it again.
posted by ceiba at 2:00 PM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

There is a market for freelance document review attorneys. Sounds mind numbing but sometimes bucks is bucks.
posted by sammyo at 2:35 PM on January 28, 2013

Put off your move for two years and hoard cash. Act like you are going to live off of $37k and stick to it. IN the end you have a fat checking that can supplement your paycheck for some time to come.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:45 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Something else to consider: get an ADA job outside of a metro area. That $37k goes a lot farther in Meigs County, Ohio than it does in, say, Somerville. Even $20k goes a lot farther in Meigs Co. than $37k does in Somerville.

I know assistant prosecutors in rural Ohio... I'm sort of stunned at the idea that an ADA in Boston makes the same amount that they do. Heck, I know office managers in government jobs in rural Ohio that almost make that much, and they don't have law school debt to pay back.

Oh, also, you can make a decentish amount of money doing customer support for LexisNexis. One of my mom's classmates spent a few years doing that, and made more money than most of the rest of their cohort that whole time.
posted by SMPA at 3:23 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Dog-walking? Start small, and from there you can branch out into house-sitting. I'm sure there are tons of people who would love to know their house is being watched by an assistant DA.

Heck, I know office managers in government jobs in rural Ohio that almost make that much, and they don't have law school debt to pay back.

I don't think making that type of comment is particularly helpful to the OP.
posted by invisible ink at 5:02 PM on January 28, 2013

Are you interested in language arts at all? Maybe give content writing a shot? From what I understand, through the company I'm attempting to contract with, one reads grade school level books and then prepares 5 short multiple choice questions for schools to use in preparing their students for state testing.

I think the pay is pretty good and the work is completed freelance on your own time. If you're interested, feel free to memail me and I can give you the contact info.
posted by youandiandaflame at 4:55 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am a PhD student and I do a lot of promotional modeling gigs on the side to make extra money. I won't take any gigs that pay less than $18/hr. For some high end liquor gigs up to $40/hr. You don't need to be amazing looking, just reasonably good looking and clean cut. You need to be fairly good looking for the high end liquor gigs. They are usually in demand for men because they get an overwhelming majority of women applying.

I would recommend checking the craigslist gigs and/or advertising/PR/marketing sections to get started in finding these jobs. You might also want to google things like "event staffing" and "promotional modeling agency" plus your location. Get a blurb/photo on every single agency around you. Pretty soon you will be getting job opportunities delivered right to your inbox.

It is exhausting work though. Especially if you are an introvert. But you can pick and choose what gigs you feel like taking.
posted by corn_bread at 4:32 PM on January 29, 2013

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