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Author Topic: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?  (Read 11966 times)

jimmyjohn

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2007, 11:21:31 PM »
No classes like this at my school (what a surprise) I go to a top 30 school.  Law school is entirely devoid of not just the entrepreneurial spirit, but of almost any practical training whatsoever.  There also seems to be no rush to change the archaic methodologies.  Lawyers that are unhappy probably began to be unhappy in law school.   

correguachin

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2007, 11:24:29 PM »
I completely agree with you.  I laugh when I read my school's career website which lists the different types of employment opportunities current students and graduates have participated in.  It is a completely false representation of what is available to the rest of the students below the top 5%.  I guess, partially they are trying to attract new students by showing them potentially what you can do with X degree.  Still, it is sort of petty.

The only thing I am most disappointed with at my school is the career services.  I went to talk several times to an adviser.  It was always more about what options I will be limited to, rather than the variety of options which are open to me.  It could be that this particular person is just like that.  Still, I wasn't impressed by the attitude, "you're going to do this because there isn't anything else out there for you."

I would appreciate any recommendations of books that discuss the wide variety of opportunities out there for law graduates.

I wish I had the personality and drive to open my own practice.  I am way too risk averse.  I am also way too inhibited to imagine myself finding clients from a personal network.  I can barely find a job through a personal network, much less a client base. 

I know they have a clinical program at my school.  Supposedly it is pretty extensive.  I'm still a first year, so I don't know much about that. 

I think it is wonderful what you are doing!  I hope you can make contacts with other schools, so that other students will also have access to more options!

Susan Cartier Liebel

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2007, 07:14:47 AM »
First, there are two books out there for those who are interested...although technologically it is now "ancient history" Jay Foonberg's How To Start and Build a Law Practice 5th edition.  Maybe your library has it.  If not, you can get it through the ABA at a student rate.  The second book is by Bob Burg, "Endless Referrals."  I am so impressed with this book because it really talks about the concept of relationship building regardless of the profession and once you apply the priniciples to building your legal practice, shy or assertive, both personality types can accomplish their goals.  And, it is just a fabulous book about relationship building in life www.burg.com.  In my circle of professionals there are rumblings of other books coming out.  It is my intention (I almost feel an affirmative obligation) to come out with a text on "How To Hang A Shingle Right Out of Law School."  So, I probably need to get started.  Your experiences in Career Counseling are universal.  I hear just dreadful things from across the country.  If someone at their exit interview talks about wanting to open their own practice they are met with "whatever," and eyes rolling!  One student already had a job with the firm she wanted practicing the law she wanted all through law school.  She went to career counseling and asked what her options were.  She was told, "we won't be able to get you a job because you got a C in contracts."  You can imagine how she felt about that experience.  These themes are universal, sadly.  Having any desire to open your own practice to life a quality of work/life balance that matches your desires, not someone elses, should be encouraged if that is what you want to do with your legal license.  Someone else's definition of success should not be yours.  There are numerous articles coming out regarding the "best and the brightest" saying no thank you to six figure salaries (coming out of Stanford) and saying 'yes' to the life they create with their law degree.  The articel was in San Francisco Magazine appropriately entitled "Being A Lawyer Doesn't Have To Suck." and another one recently in California Lawyer discussing how Gen Y women are saying "no" to the partnership track because they don't like the sacrifices that have to be made...to what end.  All I have ever said is there is an affirmative obligation to teach these skills and provide these options within law school for those who don't choose the "only path."
Susan Cartier Liebel, Esq.
Build A Solo Practice, LLC
Newly Minted or Well Seasoned, Teaching You How to Create and Grow Your Legal Practice
http://buildasolopractice.com

Follow the Construction of Solo Practice University
http://solopracticeuniversity.com

Susan Cartier Liebel

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2007, 09:03:27 AM »
You are very fortunate your Career Counseling Services Office is so enthusiastic about everyone's opportunities.  That's terrific.  And more interestingly (and uncommon) that the professors are saying one year is all you need to make the transition. The premise that you were "born" the day you pass the bar and have no life experiences, no skills, no knowledge, no capabilities unless some one theoretically trains after you pass the bar is false.  But that is the myth perpetuated.  The law is another "skill set" you acquire and becomes part of your life's arsenal of skills sets. We learn the process of delivering these services. Do lawyers who open up shop face different challenges, a steeper learning curve.  Yes.  However, I can tell you this...of all the numerous fellow students I graduated with who opened up shop right out of law school and those I've taught (a full 20% having opened up shop right out of law school) not one has been sued for malpractice. People who have not opened their own practice, who have gone the "get some training first" route can't conceive of NOT getting training first.  And getting training is a myth, too.  They'll tell you they don't get any real hands on experience. You already have talked about the externships you are going to enjoy.  I promise you that is more hands on training then you will ever supposedly get spending a year in a firm.
Again, my premise is the option should be taught in law school. 
Ponder this, if the "reality" of malpractice is so great, why is malpractice the cheapest when you first start out as a greenhorn?  Do you think the insurance companies are losing money on low premiums and extraordinary payouts?  Never. They are the biggest thieves in the world and the highest profit centers.

I hope that answers your question.  And, by the by, my son who is three always says, "Mommy, your so cute!" (My husband..he kind of likes me, too.) ;)
Susan Cartier Liebel, Esq.
Build A Solo Practice, LLC
Newly Minted or Well Seasoned, Teaching You How to Create and Grow Your Legal Practice
http://buildasolopractice.com

Follow the Construction of Solo Practice University
http://solopracticeuniversity.com

LegalLatin78

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2007, 12:52:07 PM »
Susan,

Drexel University has just started a law school and one of the focuses is  entrepreneurial business law. 

Here is the PDF -
www.drexel.edu/law/pdfs/entrepreneurship.pdf
If you  have any trouble opening the document, you can simply Google "Drexel Law + entrepreneur law" and it should be the first hit that comes up. 


PSUDSL08

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2007, 01:01:36 PM »
Susan,

One of my two career aspirations are to either hang a shingle and make a good living or to become a judge. I've glimpsed over your responses, and the only benefits to opening a private practice out of school have seemed to been the simple fact that it can be done without you getting sued. Why is it better to open one right out of school than gaining a year or two of experience doing research, etc?

My concerns with opening a private practice out of school are the following:

#1 Debt: I'm staring at $120K coming out of school. While it's possible to start a booming private practice, it's also very possible that the practice will flop. More private businesses tend to flop than thrive nowadays, and while selling "legal services" is different from opening up a pizza shop, the risk is still there. Should I really be taking out more money to startup coming out of school...or take a few years off, get my student loans down to a reasonable figure, then open up shop? Also, I've heard that there is one lawyer for every 27 people in my hometown...not sure if that's true but judging by the amount of shingles hanging, I wouldn't doubt it completely.

#2 Research: While I did well in legal writing, I am still by no means a confident researcher. How do you build upon this skill on your own as a solo practitioner coming straight out of law school? Wouldn't you be better served by at least doing a clerkship for a year then transitioning?

#3 Appearance: I'm 25, but look like I'm 17 or 18. This will be great when I'm 40, but doesn't exactly help professionally when you're my age. I think it will be very hard to build up a clientele without some prior experience based on this alone.

To make a long story short, it seems like you can minimize all risks with a year or two of experience rather than to go straight from law school to being a solo practitioner. I'm not really seeing where the extra year or two of your life is such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I'd appreciate any light you have to shed on this topic. Thanks.

Susan Cartier Liebel

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2007, 02:12:03 PM »
I need to clarify this, again.  I'm not saying one should choose hanging a shingle right out of law school if that isn't their first choice.  But sometimes we don't have choices or their most fervent desire is to do exactly that...become an entrepreneur immediately.  Law school should give you the options and tools for both.  In order for this to be a viable option some of the myths and fears surrounding this option need to be dispelled.  Would it "hurt" to work for someone else for a year or two?  That depends upon your particular situation, who you will be working for, how much you will earn, your personality, what you will be learning and if in fact you will be learning.  Case in point:  I observed a conversation between a lawyer and a former judge who has a solo practice.  She inquired about his son who just graduated law school.  The judge said, "I wanted him to come work for me but he said he needed to 'pay his dues,'get some experience.  He is working at one of the largest firms..and his experience...shepardizing the partner's new textbook coming out this year."  Not everyone is going to get employed in the ideal way.  The student loan issue, if handled correctly, is also a non-issue the first, second and third year out....and remember this, you will always have debts and responsibilities in this life...the key to happiness is how we earn the money to pay those debts.  Many students are coming out to be met with $35,000 - $45,000 draw against a percentage of business they bring in!!! If you can bring it in for them, why can't you bring it in for yourself?  As far as taking out more money to potentially flop...you probably alread have all the tools you need, just deciding home or virtual office and web presence.  You've already made the biggest investment in yourself- $120,000. If after a year or two it isn't working to your level of expectation, need or desire, you have two years experience to market to an employer.  As for the saturation in your home town, what about the lawyers in that town who are doing just fine.  It truly depends upon your practice area and geographical reach, your network and flexibility with the law you praotice.  All services are a relationship-buy.  You just need to learn how to cultivate the buyers.
Susan Cartier Liebel, Esq.
Build A Solo Practice, LLC
Newly Minted or Well Seasoned, Teaching You How to Create and Grow Your Legal Practice
http://buildasolopractice.com

Follow the Construction of Solo Practice University
http://solopracticeuniversity.com

TDJD84

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2007, 02:26:47 PM »
What options and tools do you suggest that law schools provide their students with in regards to this career choice?

Susan Cartier Liebel

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2007, 05:44:49 PM »
This question sounds like it is from one who is not a student????

However, that being said...in my perfect world law schools would do an entrance interview ascertaining what career path(s) the student is interested in.  If one is certain they want to open their own practice navigating through law school would be very different.  It would include more exposure to traditional courses and legal skills(such as business incorporations, trusts & estates, real property, business law, tax, family) client counseling, negotiation, requirement of internships/externships especially in smaller firms, requirement of a course on the business side of opening a practice including marketing with an overview of technology as it applies to the practice of law.  It would be counterintuitive to concentrate on Law Review or Moot Court.  The focus would be on skills.
Susan Cartier Liebel, Esq.
Build A Solo Practice, LLC
Newly Minted or Well Seasoned, Teaching You How to Create and Grow Your Legal Practice
http://buildasolopractice.com

Follow the Construction of Solo Practice University
http://solopracticeuniversity.com

LawLady

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Re: Are you thinking about opening your own practice right out of school?
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2007, 09:39:58 PM »
My law school (top 35) has a group of students who are working with the administration to open an "entrepenuership clinic" where they would work with business start-ups to help them with related issues.  A component of the course that will accompany it will hopefully teach students to open their own business.