Adv. Diana Zatuchna, one of LawFlex’s privacy law powerhouses, recently shared her experiences and insights as a freelance lawyer. She told us about the early days of her legal career, juggling motherhood whilst working a demanding profession and why she thinks the Freelance revolution is not quite a revolution but a way of life.
Tell us a little about your legal career from the beginning to your decision to work as a freelance lawyer.
I started in one niche and eventually found myself in a completely different niche. I started as a pre-intern at Naschitz Brandes Amir, where I dealt with maritime law.I also specialised in litigation and general fields of tort and insurance law.
After the completion of my internship, I stayed on as a lawyer. My next role was in a completely different world, a start-up in relative infancy where I learned how a company operates in the “real world”. It was at the start-up that I truly understood the role of a commercial lawyer, which is not to write the best agreements, or ensure there is zero risk but to make sure management is informed and understand their options and risks so they can then make informed decisions from a position of understanding. A good agreement in this world is a realistic agreement which all areas of the business can understand and adhere to. I learned that in commercial negotiations, more important than “who is right”, is the important of understanding where each side is coming from and to consider fairness and practicality.
After my time at the start-up, I returned to private practice. It was there that I could apply everything I learned in a broader way because naturally you deal with a lot of clients, which is both the advantage and the disadvantage compared to working as a legal advisor within a company.
After seven years, I developed skills in more specific areas such as government funding and privacy protection. With the coming of the GDPR, I decided to open my own practice and specialise in a field that was relatively esoteric at the time. My privacy practice focuses, other than privacy, compliance and related issues (such as regulation related to artificial intelligence) on regulation of online consumerism which includes regulation related to online marketing and advertising.
How did you decide that you wanted to go independent and become a freelance lawyer?
In many offices, there aren’t a lot of options for promotion. If you don’t want or can’t be appointed as a partner, you stay in the same position for the rest of your career. After a certain age, your mobility between offices decreases and you become an “unclear create”. On one hand you’re not a partner, on the other hand you are a veteran that comes with a lot of experience and higher wage demands. People don’t know how to digest it. On top of that, as an employee you don’t control your workload or clientele and work is simply thrown at you and you have to deal with it. As all your time is dedicated to being in the office, there is no possibility to develop in another field or even generate more income. As a freelance lawyer you have a lot of professional freedom, the ability to set your own schedule, and the ability to choose what to engage in and with whom to work with.
In all honesty being a freelance lawyer is very suitable to me, especially as a mother to small children.
Tell us a little about your daily life as a freelance lawyer.
As I said in response to the previous question, as a freelancer you have the privilege of deciding your own agenda and the potential to generate more income. There is something that feels very right about putting the price tag on yourself and not letting others do it for you. You need a lot of self-discipline because time can easily slip away and when you don’t have someone to report to, if you don’t have the “inner policeman” you can find yourself in trouble. I am sure every self-employed person also faces the issue of balancing stability and regularity of income versus the growth potential the more you invest in your business and persevere.
As the competition in the field increases, there is more restlessness and pressure regarding the ability to bring in new clients and not just new but quality clients, with added value, who can also be long-term partners. In the end, those who value personal and professional freedom, want the ability to work independently, who are able to manage clients effectively and professionally and knows how to take responsibility for their own schedule, should really consider pursuing a career as a freelancer.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your career?
I was on maternity leave during the peak of the pandemic, around April 2020, so it may be a little difficult for me to assess how much I was impacted by the changes.
On a professional level, COVID-19 brought many challenges and issues with regard to privacy and data. This created a great deal of professional interest within the legal community. Another thing is, that suddenly working off-premises did not seem so irregular anymore, and it became easier for customers to feel I am more part of their team than before, because most of their workforce switched to working from home.
How did you get to LawFlex? How do you feel about collaborating with them?
If my memory serves me correctly, a friend suggested I check out LawFlex when she heard I was planning to start a freelance career. It very quickly turned into a warm personal and professional relationship between me and the LawFlex team.
It is clear to me that many of my most interesting clients are those that I probably wouldn’t have had a chance to access on my own – in terms of connections, marketing and branding budgets. The support that LawFlex provides to the client allows them to feel that they are part of something bigger and more established than a single person with a computer.
LawFlex definitely gave me the opportunity to reach important and interesting clients and increase not only my circle of clients but also the variety of clients in terms of products, technologies and markets that I work with.
We would like to hear from your point of view how you see the world of ALSP (Alternative Legal Services Providers) gaining momentum in Israel and the world and how it feels to be part of this revolution?
Each of the players in the legal ecosystem has changing needs and ALSP services make it possible to address exactly that; clients can increase and decrease the amount of their outsourcing, change the mix of the services they request, including the areas of consulting and services they require in a way that immediately suits their needs.
This is also true for the freelancer who can control the flow of work, get more when he is ready and needs it, and reduce the scope of work when it is necessary and appropriate. This gives a sense of security and allows even those who are hesitating going freelance, to take the step with relative security.
I don’t feel part of a revolution because to me, it is already such a natural and obvious concept.