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Author Topic: open your own practice  (Read 2349 times)

FalconJimmy

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #30 on: August 15, 2011, 03:00:25 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. 

+1 on absolutely everything you just said.

I don't know if some folks think this somehow demeans the profession, but I think you have to think of this as a business.  It's great to love the law, but the lawyers who will succeed in small practice (or solo practice) won't necessarily be the ones with great legal chops who get their referrals from their reputation.  I'd be willing to bet that half (or more) of people who hire an attorney will NOT be because of a referral, but because an attorney got out there and hunted and killed the account, then dragged it home.

I know this may sound beneath most aspiring and current lawyers, but you have to be able to sell and market to make a small business work.  Whether an attorney wants to admit it or not, he is, absolutely, a small business.  Might be a small business with only one part-time employee to answer phones, but it's a small business.

jack24

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #31 on: August 15, 2011, 06:28:22 PM »
Yes, I'm just a fear monger.  My purpose is to scare people away from opening firms on their own by telling them to save money and get experience first.  Obviously I'm not trying to point out another option that is statistically more successful.  Statistics are for scaredy-cats anyway.  If you get an offer at a firm and decide not to make a good salary with benefits while you save up money and meet people, don't take it or you are a big fat coward.  If you don't find any jobs and decide to open a firm on your own, you are brave.  It's them, not you. 

The most common way to riches and the most common way to bankruptcy or financial ruin both travel through the same intersection: small business ownership.  Many people on this thread are trying to offer sound advice based on real-world experience.  (At least I am, but maybe everyone else is making crap up)  Don't be discouraged by the advice, but don't disregard the advice just because you think I am too chicken to open my own firm.  Investing in a down market can be a great strategy, if you have the capital to establish a good system and foundation.  If you want to ride the wave by working harder than everyone else, you have to have a large amount of clients to generate enough cash-flow to run a healthy business.   And once again, if you want to get a loan for your new firm and take advantage of the amazing interest rates, you have to remember that its all about cash flow or collateral. Courage, goodwill, contacts, determination, or a snazzy law degree won't mean crap.


Thane Messinger

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #32 on: August 16, 2011, 04:31:32 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?


It would be a waste of funds (and time).  Do an LLM if you *love* the law (and probably not even then) or are in tax law and your firm is paying for it and "suggests" it (rare).  If you really want to teach law, try to get into an SJD program (rarer still).

Many good points in the discussion, but there's a bigger issue still:  practicing law well (quite aside from being able to find clients for whom to actually practice) requires skill.  This skill is not only not gained in law school, in many ways law school is a distraction.  Thus, recent graduates face (at least) two additional burdens:  they don't know what they don't know, and they might not care about what they don't know.  I'm not being flippant; learning what is needed to do even a proficient job requires dedication and an open mind and eyes and a genuine desire to learn and an understanding that you probably won't have a draw for much of your first year, at least, so you'll need to work an extra job *in addition* to working harder than your adversary--a desire greater and beyond what was in even the first year of law school.  If that describes you, excellent.  I would be happy to practice with you.  For everyone else (which, be honest, is nearly everyone else), don't do it.  Don't do it for your clients, for your colleagues, and for yourself. 

If you're going to go this path, check out an appointments practice with a local court.  Get to know the players, and put your name in the hat.  It's hard work, and an eye-opener.  With the above conditions, you might become quite successful indeed.

For the 97+% of everyone else, read Insider's Guide to Getting A Big Firm Job, ignore the title and find yourself a small-firm job instead, or a job with an agency, or perhaps a job tangentially related to the law.   There is still a cachet in being trained in the law, and presented right (especially in a market such as this), you can do very well in a non- or quasi-legal position.

If at some point you feel the need to express yourself (and make more money) through a private practice, go for it.  But go in knowing how much work it will be and how much harder you will have to work to match what the big boys and girls have.

Thane.


Thane Messinger

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Re: open your own practice
« Reply #33 on: August 16, 2011, 04:42:04 PM »
The most common way to riches and the most common way to bankruptcy or financial ruin both travel through the same intersection: small business ownership.  Many people on this thread are trying to offer sound advice based on real-world experience.  (At least I am, but maybe everyone else is making crap up)  Don't be discouraged by the advice, but don't disregard the advice just because you think I am too chicken to open my own firm.  Investing in a down market can be a great strategy, if you have the capital to establish a good system and foundation.  If you want to ride the wave by working harder than everyone else, you have to have a large amount of clients to generate enough cash-flow to run a healthy business.   And once again, if you want to get a loan for your new firm and take advantage of the amazing interest rates, you have to remember that its all about cash flow or collateral. Courage, goodwill, contacts, determination, or a snazzy law degree won't mean crap.


Quite right.  There are hot practice areas, and there are even lucrative areas wide open to entrepreneurial lawyers.  The trick is that there's a reason firms are built around "partnerships," even if most partnerships are no longer the traditional kind. 

The fact that senior lawyers spend considerable effort and thought into who is part of their practice and which departments ought to be beefed up and which should be trimmed should give some clue as to how the profession works.  As Morten Lund states in one of his books, law is a team sport. 

If you're even halfway serious about starting solo, find three experienced practitioners and talk with them about how to do it right.  (If you don't know three experienced practitioners, that's a very bad sign.) 

Part of being a practitioner, of any stripe, is putting yourself out there.  Your business is YOU.  So if you're mousy, or lazy, or anything less than a natural star, beware.  It can be done, sure . . . but that statement is part of the warning.

Thane.