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Author Topic: Starting your own practice straight out of law school  (Read 2582 times)

ttiwed

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Starting your own practice straight out of law school
« on: October 28, 2007, 07:11:27 PM »
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craven

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Re: Starting your own practice straight out of law school
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2007, 07:57:28 PM »
Unless you have excellent connections, it seems like a terrible idea.  You have no experience, no contacts, and no book.  You can't undercut very much in price and still cover your overhead.  And you have to learn to run a business and practice law at the same time, which doesn't seem like a great idea.

Seems like a lousy way to go.

brightline

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Re: Starting your own practice straight out of law school
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2007, 08:28:39 PM »
Several people at my 1L school went this route, but it didn't seem like they were starting from scratch.

Here are two examples. Both had very low debt and good credit. You'll need good credit because you have to take out loans for advertising, office space,etc. Also, both were practicing in a mid-size city, not a major market.

One guy had several local attorneys as his mentors and they promised to refer cases they couldn't take to him. The local bar association also had an "appointment list" where he could get more referrals, along with other attorneys. He said after doing as many clinics, externships, and internships as he could, he decided this was the route for him.

Another woman ended up taking over a retiring attorney's law practice. Thus, the retiring attorney's "book of business" transferred over to her.


oscarsonthepond

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Re: Starting your own practice straight out of law school
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2007, 12:10:36 AM »
Personally, I would take any legal work over this option (and I'm very interested in one day opening my own practice).  Not sure where you're at in school, but I would think most agree that law school provides you very little practical knowledge on how to practice law day-to-day.  If you work even for a year, you can get a much better feel of how things work, what to do, how to file stuff, etc.  Also, it will help you to specialize in a particular area if you'd like and hopefully to get some client connections.  I know a guy who worked for 3 months at a firm and then went off on his own.  He seems to be doing fine, but I would think that 3 months would be a minimum otherwise you'll just be drowning for a *long* time.

Burning Sands

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Re: Starting your own practice straight out of law school
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2007, 10:37:29 PM »
An attorney that my family retained did this. He graduated in 2006 and has a solo practice in lower Manhattan. I am considering maybe going this route as well. Anyone else know of anybody who did this? Any thoughts would be appreciated.


I know several attorneys who have started their own practices in NYC and in DC.  In fact, the majority of attorneys practicing in the State of New York are in solo practice according to the NY Bar statistics.  I imagine this holds true in most other states as well.

What the other posters mentioned is on point re experience.  None of the individuals that I know who have successful solo practices did so immediately out of law school for all the reasons that have been touched on above.  Law school simply does not prepare you for the "practice" of law.  Client connections, referrals and most importantly knowledge of the court system are a practitioner's bread & butter.  Unfortunately those tools are rarely acquired while one is still attending law school since practicing the law without a license is prohibited.

If you are considering solo practice as an option, you should also consider working for somebody else for a short period of time (any sized firm will do) until you get the nuts and bolts of the practice down.  This will also allow you time to develop a book of business hopefully that you can take with you to your own practice.
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Susan Cartier Liebel

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Re: Starting your own practice straight out of law school
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2007, 08:33:32 AM »
There are many threads on this site seeking to disabuse students of this option.  I have many stories on my site of students who did just this and while challenges are faced...they are absolutely not insurmountable.  There has to be some realism here.  There are 43,000 students graduating from law school each year.  Not everyone will walk into a job or be able to maintain a job as the economy changes.  Under the category "Passed the Bar - Hung a Shingle" you will meet many students who did so and I'm sure if you contacted them they will tell you more about their experiences.

I talked with a former student just yesterday about their experiences and it is a unique take....I just posted about it.

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

jeffislouie

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Re: Starting your own practice straight out of law school
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2007, 07:20:11 PM »
I'll just say this:
When a good friend of mine graduated law school, he went to work at a friend of my dad's law firm.  He was a great student and a smart guy.
One day, I was talking to him and he told me that his salary wasn't what he expected.  He was making $43,000 a year.
I asked my dad about it and he told me that he was getting paid exactly what he was worth, if not a little more.
Fresh out of law school you just don't have enough experience to be a good attorney yet.
I'm sure some will be passable, but think of it from client perspective.
Are you willing to risk going to jail/losing your case to save a few bucks?
The trend is going the other way.  Good attorneys cost more.  Fresh faced young attorneys, straight out of school are prepared to help out winning a traffic ticket, but more complicated in court work?  I know I wouldn't want to hire a 25 year old kid with no experience to close my real estate transaction, represent me in a class action, negotiate a contract, litigate a lawsuit, or defend me against a criminal charge....
Would you?
Justice is tangy....

jeffislouie

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Re: Starting your own practice straight out of law school
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2007, 10:13:50 PM »
I know I wouldn't want to hire a 25 year old kid with no experience to close my real estate transaction....
Would you?

Actually, that is exactly what I did. In New York, if you purchase real estate above a certain amount, you are required by state law to retain counsel to review the offering plan and contract. I shopped around and everyone was $2000 or more. The attorney I ended up retaining was $800 but he just graduated from law school in 2006. I figured that retaining him should be fine because all the attorney does in this sort of transaction is review the terms of the contract (a task that I as a 3L could probably do by myself). In fact, if I wasn't required to retain an attorney by law, I probably would have just reviewed the contract by myself anyways. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if an experienced (and hence busy) attorney would just skim the contract instead of peruse it carefully.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough - put yourself in a clients place, one who hasn't attended law school and doesn't know that most simple real estate transactions can be taken care of by a 3L....
The 'layman' doesn't know this stuff.  And isn't likely to be comfortable with someone with no experience handling.
I know a lawyer who specializes in DUI defense law.
He was working with a company that handles websites for lawyers to drive business.  They were shocked when he told them what he charges for the average DUI.  Long story short, he called a guy that is known to be an amazing DUI lawyer to discuss fees and get an idea of the market.  The attorney told him that when he raised his rates to a level he thought was too high, his business blew up.
So my friend tried it, expecting to have a light month.  Instead, 8 of the 10 potential clients he quoted at the higher rate retained him immediately.
In most people's minds, you get what you pay for.  While you had the ability to make sure that the younger, independant attorney was doing his job correctly, most people don't so they are more comfortable with experience....
Glad you ended up okay with your transaction.
Justice is tangy....