More solicitors go freelance but insurance cover still a problem

More solicitors go freelance, according to information from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), but insurance cover is still a problem.

The number of solicitors going freelance has more than doubled in the last three years – but this cohort still represents just a fraction of the overall profession.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has revealed that freelance solicitors numbers increased from around 300 in 2021 to 650 by the start of this year.

The figure still accounts for less than 1% of practising solicitors, but the regulator said the increase shows that freelancing is a ‘viable and increasingly attractive’ practising model.

But solicitors who have taken the plunge report that they faced a challenge in obtaining professional indemnity insurance, with some unable to get cover at all.

Since 2019, individual solicitors have been able to provide legal services on a freelance basis without being authorised as an entity.

They must have at least three years’ practising experience, hold adequate and appropriate PII and only hold client money when it is for payments on account of costs and disbursements not yet bills. They cannot provide immigration services or claims management.

Research published by the SRA found that freelancers are more likely to be male (61% versus 48% overall). Black solicitors make up 3% of the profession but 8% of freelance solicitors, while British Asian solicitors account for 12% of the profession but 17% of freelancers.

The average age of a freelance solicitor is 51 years old, suggesting most take it up in the later stages of their career. Based on an SRA survey of 52 freelancers, 79% wanted to work more flexibility and 72% cited extra independence as a reason for taking this option.

The majority (60%) work solely on a freelance basis and usually from home, conducting meetings at clients’ homes.

The SRA said that one persistent barrier to the take-up of a freelance solicitor role was the difficulty of obtaining insurance, with almost a quarter saying they had initially been unable to secure cover.

The regulator recommended that freelance solicitors may have to adapt their operating model in order to obtain suitable insurance, for example through joining professional associations which offer insurance.


Kindly shared by The Law Society Gazette