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Author Topic: open your own practice  (Read 2655 times)

lawstudent#1

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2011, 06:36:04 PM »
Never ask cowards for "advice" before doing anything. Look into the raw facts and then do it or don't. The majority of people are cowards. Just a fact. That's why even factoring in the draftees generations less than a third of our nation is veterans. "but I could get hurt or have to try harder for less pay for awhile, etc,etc,  :'( "

FalconJimmy

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2011, 06:50:14 PM »
Never ask cowards for "advice" before doing anything.

On a less condemnatory note, as I said, being an attorney and being a small businessperson are two totally different things.

Small businesspeople tend to be of the "Ready FIRE... aim..." variety.

The very best attorneys?  They tend towards the "Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim..." variety.  They're very risk-averse and not at all the type to leap before looking. 

There are entire swaths of very successful, very wealthy people who simply can not, and could never be a small businessperson.  They want to mitigate all risk, which basically means, they will always have a reason NOT to launch out on their own.

As I said, to have your own practice, you have to be a bit of both. 

Just being a professional (an accountant, attorney, doctor, etc.) is absolutely not the same as having what it takes to strike out and hang out a shingle.  I never cease to be amused by doctors who say things like, "I could have made a lot more money in business."

Ummmm... no, doc, you couldn't.  You're a terrible businessperson.  Your organization is a customer service hellhole.  Have you ever sat on the customer's side of the partition at your office? 

You have already proven that you are, at best, barely minimally competent at running a business.  That's not the sign of a $350,000 a year businessperson who has missed his vocation.

All good attorneys may think they have what it takes to strike out on their own but they don't.  And the traditional path of associate, midlevel associate, senior associate, junior partner, senior partner is a heck of a long handholding path to having equity in the firm. 

This is not at all to disparage people who have kicked ass the tried and true proven way in a law firm.  More power to them and I doubt I could ever do what they can do.  Being a partner at a large firm is going to bring down the kind of money that very, very few people could ever realistically dream of, and that simply won't ever be attained by most people who start a practice right out of law school.

However, I guarantee that every mid-sized town or larger has a guy who hung out a shingle, has practiced for less than 10 years and has parlayed his T4 degree into a $250,000+ a year small firm.

There are a few refugees from biglaw who ease back into a corporate counsel role for less money than that.

Also, not to say that hanging out a shingle is a path to prosperity, either.  A lot of solo practitioners never really get their practice off the ground.  I'll offer that those folks are probably neither great attorneys nor great business people.


lawstudent#1

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2011, 06:59:09 PM »
Never ask cowards for "advice" before doing anything.

On a less condemnatory note, as I said, being an attorney and being a small businessperson are two totally different things.

Small businesspeople tend to be of the "Ready FIRE... aim..." variety.

The very best attorneys?  They tend towards the "Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim..." variety.  They're very risk-averse and not at all the type to leap before looking. 

There are entire swaths of very successful, very wealthy people who simply can not, and could never be a small businessperson.  They want to mitigate all risk, which basically means, they will always have a reason NOT to launch out on their own.

As I said, to have your own practice, you have to be a bit of both. 

Just being a professional (an accountant, attorney, doctor, etc.) is absolutely not the same as having what it takes to strike out and hang out a shingle.  I never cease to be amused by doctors who say things like, "I could have made a lot more money in business."

Ummmm... no, doc, you couldn't.  You're a terrible businessperson.  Your organization is a customer service hellhole.  Have you ever sat on the customer's side of the partition at your office? 

You have already proven that you are, at best, barely minimally competent at running a business.  That's not the sign of a $350,000 a year businessperson who has missed his vocation.

All good attorneys may think they have what it takes to strike out on their own but they don't.  And the traditional path of associate, midlevel associate, senior associate, junior partner, senior partner is a heck of a long handholding path to having equity in the firm. 

This is not at all to disparage people who have kicked ass the tried and true proven way in a law firm.  More power to them and I doubt I could ever do what they can do.  Being a partner at a large firm is going to bring down the kind of money that very, very few people could ever realistically dream of, and that simply won't ever be attained by most people who start a practice right out of law school.

However, I guarantee that every mid-sized town or larger has a guy who hung out a shingle, has practiced for less than 10 years and has parlayed his T4 degree into a $250,000+ a year small firm.

There are a few refugees from biglaw who ease back into a corporate counsel role for less money than that.

Also, not to say that hanging out a shingle is a path to prosperity, either.  A lot of solo practitioners never really get their practice off the ground.  I'll offer that those folks are probably neither great attorneys nor great business people.

Caveat: Get a joint MBA/JD if you want to go solo.

jack24

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2011, 08:10:38 PM »
FalconJimmy:
You are right...  sole proprietors and small partnerships succeed all the time, but they are the exception, not the rule.  It's like those insurance companies and summer sales companies that talk about the massive amounts of money you can make.  Unfortunately, only the few make the money, some grind for a long time, and some crash and burn. 
What I am saying is that opening your own firm should not be a back-up plan.  It should not be the "only option."  If you are opening a firm because you can't find anything else, that's a bad idea unless you have a great foundation of talent, capital, and contacts. 
The reason to open your own firm is that you have a passion about small business and being your own boss in addition to an interest and devotion to law practice.   The circumstances surrounding the job market shouldn't be the primary factor in that analysis.  The decision should be based on your passion, your determination, your finances, and the law market as a whole.  How many people are starting their own firms, how many attorneys per person in your area, what is the current profit margin for small firms?
I come from a small town where there are 313 practicing attorneys for a population of 82,000.   That's one attorney for every 261 people.   How many people even use attorneys on an annual basis?  Most people go to the dentist, the mechanic, or probably even an accountant more often than they need a lawyer.
So if the market is flooded, you need to do something different in order to stand out.  Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of room for innovation in the legal industry (some exceptions of course).   As a result, a huge proportion of attorney sole proprietors don't make very much money.

FalconJimmy

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2011, 09:11:02 PM »
As a result, a huge proportion of attorney sole proprietors don't make very much money.

See, I totally agree with you there.  As an example, I mentioned a family-law attorney in my town who, I bet, probably bills about 10 hours a week.  Maybe I'm being a bit unkind, maybe she bills 15.  Actually, I honestly don't know.  I'm guessing.  I do know that when we had an appointment, she showed up in order to make the appointment and left immediately afterwards.

She said she'd charge me a reduced rate ($50) for the consultation.  I paid her in cash at the end and she acted surprised and said, "Oh, this is good.  I owe my kid $50."

I was thinking, "you needed a windfall to give your kid $50?"

(I was also thinking things like, "Um... that's not a tip.  I'm sincerely doubting that you're keeping track of that as a payment from a customer.  The IRS really doesn't like this sort of thing" and "I really don't think I'm going to retain the services of somebody who acts like they haven't seen $50 in a week.")

In any event, I would be absolutely astounded if she were doing really well.  She was working out of one of those offices where a handful of attorneys (not partners), share the same location and each one has a small office and they share the cost of one receptionist / legal secretary.

Now, even if she were only billing 10 hours a week at $150 an hour.  $1500 a week.  $75,000 a year.  Not sure what sort of office expenses she has, but say $500 to $1,000.  Various other expenses and maybe she clears $40,000 to $50,000 a year as personal income.

Not a great living.

But... it's a living and she's been doing it for years. 

Given the impressiveness of her first impression, I don't think there were a lot of other ways this person was going to pull down $50,000 a year.  I guess maybe if she were a public school teacher with 20 years seniority, but who knows.  (I usually describe people like this as "having the personality of accountants, but sadly lacking the requisite ability to add and subtract."  Other than civil service and Human Resources, there aren't a lot of career paths for folks like this.)

Just saying, yeah, I agree, she's not making a lot of money.  But she's making money.  Not working a lot of hours.  Setting her own hours.  There are a lot of folks who work a lot harder than that for $50,000 a year.

Other than that, I truly do agree with you on the points you're making.  Nobody should be deluded into thinking this is easy.  It's CLEARLY not for everyone.  I personally believe that just as the detail-orientation and work ethic to be a superlawyer is probably something a person is born with, true entrepreneurs are born and not made.

So, yeah, the warnings are well-founded and should be well-heeded.

Hamilton

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #25 on: August 09, 2011, 09:58:24 AM »
Falcon - I did a poor job of showing my sarcasm.  I too know folks who started practices right out of school - they are surviving.  Everyone's situation is different.  Certainly if one is not saddled with $100K in loans and without a family in need of financial support, starting a practice and carefully growing it is an option - but as you guys have pointed out, it is not a simple answer for everyone unable to find work.

I find it very frustrating that there are people like you and others with real practical knowledge and experience providing insight and information and it largely falls on deaf ears.  Couple that with the market and our leaderless country and my frustration meter was pegged yesterday.

orenk

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #26 on: August 13, 2011, 04:15:29 PM »
Never ask cowards for "advice" before doing anything. Look into the raw facts and then do it or don't. The majority of people are cowards. Just a fact. That's why even factoring in the draftees generations less than a third of our nation is veterans. "but I could get hurt or have to try harder for less pay for awhile, etc,etc,  :'( "

Exactly! Most people are cowards and are living in fear. Most people on this boards are nerds who love to theorize about *&^% instead of taking action and learning from experiance.

lawyerintraining

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #27 on: August 13, 2011, 10:00:32 PM »
Do you think that getting an ABA JD and then an online LLM would help going solo?

Would it impress clients and give extra knowledge? Or would it be a waste of funds?

pslaw2011

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #28 on: August 14, 2011, 11:25:23 PM »
I think adding an LLM to go solo would be a large waste of funds for sure. The element lacking seems to be experience, not education.

Working in a firm doing anything pt while finishing the JD would do more good than adding more education. Pro bono work litigating or anything to add significant & relevant experience.

* to add to the TTTT alumni that are successful, I am aware of a handful in FL where I'm from. Also, FL has like 8 or so tier 4 schools so maybe its a place to look for success stories lol.

akmusic

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #29 on: August 15, 2011, 01:10:57 PM »
I am an older student and have one semester under my belt so far at law school.  I can tell you from my first impressions, that I bet 50% of my incoming class will not be doing a solo practice ever.  I had a very successful business for 12 years, I survived several bad economies, high interest rates, and a step learning curve (as I was a premed student in undergrad and had no business training at all), but I realized that all the training in world wouldn't have meant crap if you didn't have the psychology for it.  I have met many great attorney's who have been practicing for 10+ years and are excellent, however they have a lot in common regarding going off on their own.  Its a nasty four letter word FEAR!  They are complete badasses in the courtroom but solo work is like asking them to swim in shark infested waters douced in chum.  To be successful in a solo practice, you have to want it as a priority in law school, not as a backup plan if you can't get a job when you graduate.  My mother always preached to me to do something you love, don't worry about the money or how long it takes you to get there because once you do it will not feel like work.  She was right on both counts, as I can study for 10-12 hours a day and enjoy every second of it.  Of course I get tired but thats just physical, I look forward to the next day even if it will be the same 10-12 hour day!  I am dead set on starting my own practice right out of school, and am certain that I will be successful.  In the last 5 years I unfortunately had to use quite a few lawyers and have to tell you that most of them sucked.  Half of them went to really great schools, and as I got more experience being around them I realized many improvements I could make if I was in their shoes.  I recommend if you want to go on your own, start grooming yourself for it in law school.  You just have to remember the old business adage of "if you want to compete in business, find better way of doing it than the competition".