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Messages - StrictlyLiable

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1
General Board / Re: Starting your own solo practice after law school
« on: September 29, 2011, 07:07:26 PM »
I have been thinkin about this a lot and someone mentioned it on another thread. I Felt it deserved its own thread. My thoughts on this. I think it is possible to start your own practice right out of law school. Many people say wait until you practice for a couple of years but I have friends who are in large firms and corp in house counsel that do all bunnies work and are learning nothing. I think it is just as possible to go solo right out of law school as it is after 2 years in a large firm. the only problem is getting clients but every solo has that problem to start with. The easiest way to get experience is get on the 18-b panel for family law and crim law. If you bill out at 100 bucks an hour (which is really cheap) and you bill out 15 hours a week and you supplement with 18-b work at 60 an hour I think you def could make a go of it especially if you worked out of your home for the first couple of months until you build a small client base.I am interested in others peoples thoughts on this matter. please add to the discussion

Wow. Its been a long time since I was on this board. Just started poking around and found this question, which I actually see a lot of on law related boards. Before I answer the question, let me give you a little bit of background on me, because it is important:

I am currently in my third year of solo practice, which I established straight out of law school. I was a non-trad student, who had nearly 10 years experience in social services. My work experienced included child support, children and youth dependency, and juvenile criminal court/probation areas, so I was well versed on a few areas of law already. I live and practice in a rural Pa. county, but also lived and have clients in some surrounding urban areas. I established my own practice out of necessity due to the fact that I could not land a job anywhere (I put in over 200 applications), I had two children to provide for, and had been laid off from the job I had during law school. Prior to practicing, I was involved in local politics, which gave me good name ID right out of the gate and had a respectable network of attorney friends.

I worked out of my home and conducted client consults in restaurants and client homes. I did not limit myself to my county only as I made myself available to travel all around the state. I was able to get myself on the criminal conflict counsel and dependency court lists right away. I signed up for the state bar association referral service and some local bar association referral services, too. And of course, I relied on referrals from family and friends.

I undercut the competition in the area by initially charging $90/hr, then $100/hr after one year, and now $120/hr. I also tried to flat fee a lot of stuff to ensure that I got paid, which sometimes meant that I undersold myself. My lawyer friends and political connects sent me their shitwork and shitclients frequently. Between the shitclients, the court appointments, and the referral services, I was able to stay afloat early and continue to grow the business.

Looking back, I didn't know squat in those first few months. Even with the my previous experience, which gave me a solid background, I still needed a lot of help from a few mentors, who guided me in the practice of law and the running of a business. I was usually on the phone with one them daily. Without them, I probably would have been sued for malpractice multiple times. In addition, I spent numerous hours researching the law, the rules of procedure, etc. That said, my first few court appearances were complete disasters. For example, my first ever appearance was for a simple guilty plea that I was covering for a colleague. Even though I had attended plea sessions a few times to prime myself, when I got to the point where I had to verbally change my clients plea from not guilty to guilty and acknowledge that he signed the appropriate document to that effect, I froze and didn't know what to say. The judge finally barked at me, "just say change the plea", which I did verbatim. *embarassed*

During these three years, I have gained invaluable courtroom experience that many associated at firms do not have. I have had three criminal trials (one split verdict and two acquittals), four custody trials (all wins), and will be litigating my first civil trial next month (jury selection is tomorrow), in addition to all the pleadings, motions, contempt hearings, guilty pleas, conciliations, and conferences.

In the first year, I made 30K. In year 2, I cleared 52K. This year, I am on target to make over 70K. Three months ago, I finally moved out of my dining room and into a respectable office space that I share with a small law firm. I have finally invested in advertising and am starting to reap the dividends.

All that said, I am the exception to the rule. I had a lot of connections. I had a lot of help from other attorneys. My local bar is pretty small and very close knit. They didn't see me as a threat. The same cannot be said in other urban, more competitive regions. My wife and I have huge families and they stumped for me non-stop. I had a lot of prior experience that gave me some basis in the practice of law. And most importantly, I am a naturally gifted litigator (or so I have been told).

Bottom line is that you can start a solo practice straight out of school, but the conditions have to be near-perfect and you have to be a special person. If I lived in an urban area that was saturated with lawyers, it would have never worked. If I didn't have the personal connections with mentor attorneys, I would have never made it. If I wasn't involved in politics, it would have never worked. If I didn't have a large family feeding me clients, I would not have survived. Finally, if I didn't have some ready made talent, I would have sunk. So, be cautious.

PS. Don't buy a solo starting kit from that shingle-hanging chick that frequents this and other boards. She is a hack and has no idea what it takes to open a practice. Talk to other solos BEFORE making a decision.

Good Luck.

2
General Board / Re: Psychiatric Disability Right in Law School
« on: October 08, 2009, 02:44:17 PM »
You all want to know, I'll tell you.  I have ADD and Bipolar II. I was diagnosed with ADD at 12 and Bipolar II at 19.  I know what you all are thinking.  You’re thinking I’m stupid, unintelligent, insane, and incapable of leading a full life.  Guess again! I am smart and intelligent, and perfectly sane. I am a straight A student, who is a Phi Theta Kappa member.  I do the same work and take the same tests, as everyone else in my class.    I go to college full time.  Live on my own, and I am planning on getting an academic scholarship to a school I want to transfer to.  I plan to go into public interest law, doing civil rights and litigation work.  One of my areas will be disability rights, and I will make sure that one no disabled person has their rights denied, especially people with psychiatric disabilities. Nothing and no one will keep me from being an attorney.  If anyone tries to deny me my civil rights, I will sue the pants off of them. 

On a personal note, I can tell you that there is nothing worse than being sick, alone and scared and having people ridicule and stigmatize you for it.  No one deserves that type of treatment. 

I find it really sad that people in this day and age continue to stigmatize people with psychiatric disabilities and deny them their civil rights.  They think we're lazy, weak, insane, stupid, violent, etc.  However, people with psychiatric disabilities are just as capable and competent as anyone else.  They have an illness, just like any other.  Like asthma or diabetes.  To treat people with psychiatric disabilities this way, is the same as discriminating against someone because of their race, gender, and sexual orientation.  You wouldn't make fun of someone with cancer, you wouldn't deny someone with cancer disability accommodations if need be.  Then why do the same to someone with a psychiatric disability. 

I also find it really sad that people in this day and age, can't see people with psychiatric disabilities for the gifts and abilities they have. Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression.  He was a lawyer and the president of the United States.  If Lincoln were alive today, and he was a student and had depression, who you deny him his civil rights and a chance to succeed in school? If someone did, they would have never have known one of the greatest presidents who ever lived.

The rehabilitation act of 1973, section 504, grants student with psychiatric disabilities the right to their civil rights and academic accommodations.  However, higher education institutions continually ignore the laws regarding student with psychiatric disabilities and it’s a disgrace.  Not to mention that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, and the age for most mental illnesses are in ones late teens and twenties.   Even with this information, higher education institutions still do nothing to address the problem.  Still colleges continue to do nothing about it.  Student insurance doesn’t even cover mental health parity, and there is a lack of awareness on campus.  This is all a result of ignorance and bigotry. 

It’s time for people to get a clue about mental illnesses and stop the bigotry. >:(


First of all, you really need to work on your writing skills if you plan to be accepted, let along suceed in law school and become licensed because judging on your two samples show above, you are sorely lacking. "grants student with psychiatric disabilities the right to their civil rights". Really? What does that even mean?

Second, what in the world are "psychiatric disabilities"? There are such things as learning disabilites, problems that specifically affect how an individual learns, absorbs information, and their ability to regurgitate that information, but what you described above is an emotional disorder, something that as of yet has not been proven to hinder the learning process. Certain disorders may affect how one copes with stresses, responds to stimuli, and behaves, but it does not affect the brain in such a way as to limit or impede learning.

Finally, lose the chip. Nearly everyone who applies to law school has their own little sob story. Just do a quick search of this site and you will find out that many, many people had to deal with hardships and such. So, join the club, we have jackets.

3
General Board / Re: To everyone taking the bar tomorrow…
« on: July 31, 2009, 11:00:21 AM »
Nothing personal, but I hope the pass rate in most states comes in betweeen 20 and 30% for the next 4 or 5 years. We need to cull the herd and give this legal market a chance to recover, so that the millions of unemployed lawyers we already have floating around can find some work.



thats ridiculous

what's ridiculous are that state bars keep admitting thousands of new members twice a year, when over half the graduates from the past two years' graduating classes, still haven't found any work. So, yes I do hope all of you and thousands of other test takers fail the bar. Its harsh, but the more of you there are, the less money I make. Its that simple.
[/quote]

Nothing personal, but perhaps your inability to get a job in over a year has more to do with yourself than your competition.  It could just be THAT simple.

[/quote]

I have a job, nitwit. I said earlier that I opened up a solo practice and am doing pretty well. But like I said before, that success is due to a CONSTANT 12-15 hour a day hustle. All that for what is shaping up to be about 60K this year.

4
General Board / Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« on: July 30, 2009, 06:13:00 PM »
How do you know, StrictlyLiable?

Well, I have been in solo practice for 4 months now after not being able to find any job for almost 6 months after passing the bar.

I bet you're swimming in dollar bills.  Or is it not that lucrative?

Once you're a practicing lawyer, you will experience it yourself and then you can judge. When you are one of 300 applicants to a PD position that pays 40K per year and are told by the secretary that "honey, we have about 200 applications from seasoned attorneys with over 5 years experience," you will see what I mean.

He's telling people to give up on law and hoping for a change that will cause the vast majority of bar examinees to fail over the next four years, to cut down on competition. What does that tell you?

5
General Board / Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« on: July 30, 2009, 06:10:28 PM »
How do you know, StrictlyLiable?

Well, I have been in solo practice for 4 months now after not being able to find any job for almost 6 months after passing the bar.

I bet you're swimming in dollar bills.  Or is it not that lucrative?

I am doing pretty well, but everyday is a constant hustle.

6
General Board / Re: To everyone taking the bar tomorrow…
« on: July 30, 2009, 02:27:16 PM »
Nothing personal, but I hope the pass rate in most states comes in betweeen 20 and 30% for the next 4 or 5 years. We need to cull the herd and give this legal market a chance to recover, so that the millions of unemployed lawyers we already have floating around can find some work.


thats ridiculous

what's ridiculous are that state bars keep admitting thousands of new members twice a year, when over half the graduates from the past two years' graduating classes, still haven't found any work. So, yes I do hope all of you and thousands of other test takers fail the bar. Its harsh, but the more of you there are, the less money I make. Its that simple.

7
General Board / Re: took 3 years off, where to start
« on: July 30, 2009, 02:23:50 PM »
:-\
i began law school in the fall of 2004 and completed 2 of the 3 years requuired for a J.D. degree. then i had to take a 3 year leave of absence due to a death in the family and the fact that my father is owner and president of a major food manufacturing company and i stepped in as vice president bc my uncle died and that was his job. now i am going to begin finishing my last year (i have 24 credits to go) on august 20th.

however, it is almost 5 years since i started my studies and needless to say, im a little fuzzy on diversity jurisdiction and the exceptions to the hearsay rule. so i bought a civ pro crunchtime and a bunch of other emanuel outlines.

what would be a good order to tackle the subjects in.  i think property, civil procedure, obviously conn law, torts, crim law, and corporations are all important for me to re-learn.

anyone have a similar situation of some advice on the order in which i should review all the subjects? please feel free to suggest other subjects that would be good to review :-\

Why in God's name would you leave a career as an executive and heir apparent at a major food manufacturer to go to law school in the midst of the worst legal market EVER? That sounds a bit retarded to me.

still think i'm retarded. dont mess with us NYC boys, and i went to yale undergrad (class of 2004) and im a powerlifter, check out my myspace page  www.myspace.com/franky4c    so watch ur tongue

Oh, please Mr. Powerlifter, reach through your computer screen and break my nose (but don't mess up your blowout in the process). I am a litigator, so I have been looking for the perfect case to take a huge award and not have to share it with a pesky client.

8
General Board / Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« on: July 30, 2009, 02:21:21 PM »
How do you know, StrictlyLiable?

Well, I have been in solo practice for 4 months now after not being able to find any job for almost 6 months after passing the bar.

9
General Board / Re: Disappointing grades in this economy = drop out?
« on: July 30, 2009, 10:54:59 AM »
Hello all,

Facts: Private NYC school (the one in between Fordham and Brooklyn). Already in debt from one year. Bs and B+ grades only (below median - 3.04 GPA, median = 3.16). Public interest/government future.

Should I drop out? I'm below median. I want a public interest/government career, but the economy is horrible right now. I have plenty of family connections, but my grades are kinda poo. Is there any way to get them up during the next two years?

Please, any advice would be great. I have no idea what to do right now. I mean, I'm really good at actual law ... I received an A on my appellate brief, and in my internship I keep getting compliments on my briefs and research. But still, grades are everything in this career.

Thanks in advance. I'm kinda bugging out about my future here.

Yes, drop out now, while you still can. The legal market is not just tough, its execruciating especially in NYC. Biglaw associates are getting laid off in droves. New hires are having their start dates delayed by 6 mos to 1 year. The top graduates from the top schools, who normally would be going Biglaw in the major markets, are being pushed into secondary markets, which has forced regional graduates to scramble for employment because the jobs that they could normally count are now uber comepetitive. Government jobs are now the most sought after in the legal world as they provide income stability, benefits, and shelter from the economic storm. So, the bulk of the applicants and hirees for these positions are mostly experienced attorneys who couldn't weather these times as a solo or in a small firm.

You only have one year in. You don't have that much debt. You are in the most comepetitive market in the US in a down economy. Graduates from your school just won't stack up against the big boys. Unless you want to find yourself doing 2 years of sporadic doc review after passing the bar, just cut your losses and find another career.

10
General Board / Re: took 3 years off, where to start
« on: July 30, 2009, 10:37:31 AM »
:-\
i began law school in the fall of 2004 and completed 2 of the 3 years requuired for a J.D. degree. then i had to take a 3 year leave of absence due to a death in the family and the fact that my father is owner and president of a major food manufacturing company and i stepped in as vice president bc my uncle died and that was his job. now i am going to begin finishing my last year (i have 24 credits to go) on august 20th.

however, it is almost 5 years since i started my studies and needless to say, im a little fuzzy on diversity jurisdiction and the exceptions to the hearsay rule. so i bought a civ pro crunchtime and a bunch of other emanuel outlines.

what would be a good order to tackle the subjects in.  i think property, civil procedure, obviously conn law, torts, crim law, and corporations are all important for me to re-learn.

anyone have a similar situation of some advice on the order in which i should review all the subjects? please feel free to suggest other subjects that would be good to review :-\

Why in God's name would you leave a career as an executive and heir apparent at a major food manufacturer to go to law school in the midst of the worst legal market EVER? That sounds a bit retarded to me.

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