Do you guys have any ideas regarding how lucrative running your own PI firm would be though? That is the goal for me, not working at a PI firm. I am just going to work at a PI firm for a few years to figure out how the system works, and as soon as I have money built up and I feel I am ready, I am going to start it up.
It totally depends on your situation. In order to open your own firm you have to be business savvy as well. You need to know how many staff members you need, what to pay them, how much advertising you want to do and at what cost, whether you will have your own office building or share office space, etc. All of these considerations must be taken into account and proper decisions will have to be made in order to maximize your income.
As far as the actual practice of law, it will probably be tough until you can get your practice up and running. It will take a few years of results to get your name out there and have the referrals start to circulate. Ultimately, the sky is the limit and you could take home several hundred thousand per year if you are truly the best of the best in your town.
But that isn't may be difficult for a variety of reasons. One very significant reason is the amount of television advertising done by large PI firms. The general public tends to equate television advertising and silly acting with attorney competence. As such, you will likely lose some good cases to the larger PI firms. You will probably have to branch out your practice and do some criminal, domestic, or worker's comp. work to help pay the bills.
Having said all that, I see no reason why you couldn't clear six figures per year after you get established. I worked for a solo attorney this summer at a PI/workers comp office and he made about 150K per year.