If you've freelanced for long enough you'll find yourself needing help with terminating a project, dealing with a client that's screwed you over, or—more commonly—getting paid. The question is, where do you go for advice in these situations?
A problem shared is a problem halved and most freelancers turn to friends in the industry for advice. They'll send a cry for help out on Slack or a Facebook group they're active in.
It's natural to want to understand how your peers have handled similar situations. After all, if their business has survived to tell the tale they must have done something right. But some of the advice is poor and can aggravate the situation—and even invalidate your insurance!
How to get advice from a trusted professional
What you need is affordable advice from a legal professional who is experienced in the area you're having difficulty with. There is a product that can fill this gap. It's called legal expenses insurance.
Legal expenses insurance is something we encourage freelancers to consider because it fills a gap your professional indemnity policy doesn't. Your professional indemnity insurance will be triggered if:
- a client demands compensation from you (think loss of business)
- there's a threat of legal action
These are extreme scenarios and there are lots of problems that haven't reached the stage your professional indemnity insurance can help. This is where the legal expenses product can save the day. Sometimes a little bit of (good!) advice is all that's needed.
When a customer contacts us with a question about a project that isn't going smoothly, the first thing we do is establish if there's a claim that triggers the professional indemnity insurance. If not we check their policy for legal expenses so they can access advice to help them navigate the situation.
40% of our customers have legal expenses insurance so they can speak to legal without expensive consultation fees (the cost is included in their monthly subscription). For customers that don't have legal expenses insurance obtaining legal advice can be trickier and more expensive.
How does legal expenses work?
The helpline connects you to an advisor that's experienced in the area you're having trouble with. Copyright law, contract disputes, tax issues… You're not getting questionable advice from a stranger on the internet. These are qualified legal advisors whose job it is to help you.
They'll return your call within two hours, but if you have a specific time request for something urgent this will be logged.
I'd suggest using the time you're waiting for your call to be returned to write a list of questions. This will help you make the most of your time with the legal advisor and end your call understanding your next steps.
Every freelancer should have access to legal
Legal expenses insurance certainly isn't a fix-all, but it should be an important asset in your business.
- It enables freelancers to access legal services they otherwise might not be able to afford
- It can prevent situations from escalating
Statistically speaking only 5% of freelancers will have to use their professional indemnity insurance, but every freelancer has a high risk of facing a dispute with a client. Most of the disputes we see involve payment issues, arguments around contracts or clients being unreasonable.
Getting proper advice, and even understanding which terminology to use when speaking to your client, can be the difference between a problem blowing over or escalating.
85% of situations can be resolved with some basic, legal guidance and legal expenses insurance exists to fill that gap. It's OK to ask your industry friends for help, but if you're gathering advice from different sources make sure the legal expert is the one whose advice you act on.