Before you make the leap to solo practice, ask yourself if you have a tolerance for risk and uncertainty.
If not, you’re better off in a job with a salary, benefits, and a clear track for promotion.
“Starting your own firm takes one-half planning and one-half insanity,” writes lawyer Brian King in this ABA Journal article. “You will need to be creative and hungry and prepared to make mistakes. Most of that time you are making snap decisions without a safety net, but you feel alive with every decision. Your world will shift from dialogue to numbers. Your language in law is prose, but your language in business will be numbers. Spend time educating yourself on that, even at the expense of less time on the law.”
Another tip before going solo: take a personality aptitude test like Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder.
“That way, you know more about how you’re wired, which relates to your professional calling,” writes lawyer Inti Martínez-Alemán in the same ABA Journal piece. “If you are someone who likes to follow the structure provided to you by others, chances are you will hate running your firm. But if you (like me!) like creating your own rhythms and structures, chances are you will like the ups and downs of owning a business.”
Read “50 Startup Tips to Get Your Practice Off the Ground” in the ABA Journal.
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“While many lawyers are attracted to the possible freedom and flexibility of owning their own firm, lots of new firm owners haven’t planned out how much they’ll need to work ‘on’ their business (strategy, business development, goal setting, documentation)versus how much they’ll be working ‘in’ their business (providing legal services, sending out bills, reconciling accounts, marketing),” says Aaron Street, CEO and co-founder of Lawyerist in the “50 Startup Tips” article.
The entire article is worthwhile reading. Here are three more highlights:
- “As a student loan lawyer, most of my law practice is transactional-based. The little litigation I do is fixed and routine. So for me, it makes total sense to charge a flat fee. The key to charging a flat fee is to charge a high enough fee where you don’t hate your client for doing the work for them and a low enough fee where they don’t hate you for what they’re paying you.” (Stanley Tate, Tate Law)
- “Use [tech tools] that are low-cost, cloud-based and typically don’t require you to know how to code. There are literally dozens of options in every tech category—just find the ones that work best for you and integrate with your other tools.” (Jessica Birken, Birken Law Office)
- “Implement a docketing system. You need to have a way of keeping track of cases. Think about this in advance. Are you going to use a calendaring system? An off-the-shelf program that’s being offered to legal professionals? Do your research and get it in place before you open.” (Josh Gerben, Gerben Perrott)
Source: ABA Journal
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