Whether you are an associate or partner at a law firm, thinking about starting your own firm, or a recent graduate* of law school, there are several things you should consider before setting up shop on your own.
Here are 4 things that make you more likely to succeed as a solo law practitioner:
1. Experience at a larger firm
Being a senior associate or better yet a partner at a larger law firm helps ease the anxiety of being able to acquire enough clients to pay for your expenses when you go solo. Many large law firm partners leave and take a few high paying clients with them when they transition to becoming solo. Additionally, if the partner leaves on good standing, large law firms will usually refer cases to them that are too small for the big law firm to take on, but very lucrative for a solo practitioner.
2. Being inherently resourceful
Many experienced attorneys that become solo practitioners struggle with this one. At their previous firms, they were accustomed to having associates to do the grunt work and secretaries to keep them organized and on schedule. When they go solo, they realize that they may have underestimated on how many administrative tasks are involved in running your own firm. Until you are able to build a book of business to enable you to hire a secretary, paralegal and associates, you are doing everything yourself. In order to get it all done in the most efficient manner you have to be able to be efficient and resourceful. You should seek out software that can automate any and all non legal tasks. You should spend some time testing out software in order to find the ones that work best for you. Being resourceful means doing more with less. Try to keep your expenses to a bare minimum so that you can quicken your path to profitability!
3. Networking skills
Being a solo practitioner you are both the rainmaker and the fulfillment partner. Not only do your legal skills have to be on point, the larger your network is, the more successful you will be as a solo practitioner. If you do not have a large network of contacts, you must have the ability to talk to people with ease. The more social you are, the more referrals you will get. Make sure you always have business cards on hand and make it known to everyone that you meet what kind of law you practice. Should they have a legal problem in the near future, you want them to call you.
4. Tech savvy
These days, being tech savvy is a huge competitive advantage for attorneys. There are so many digital tools that can not only aid you in streamlining your legal research but also all your administrative tasks. By being able to quickly learn a new software and use it to improve your processes, you will be able to take on more clients which can lead to increased revenue.
ONE400 has helped many lawyers take the plunge into solo law successfully and we are happy to help. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out.
*If you are a recent graduate, you will struggle most with number 1. Gaining experience is extremely challenging at first since clients usually want to hire someone that has been practicing for more than 1 month. It will be challenging your first year or two of practice but whatever you do DO NOT make yourself the most affordable option. In the legal industry, no one is looking for a bargain. In fact it is quite the reverse, the more you charge, the more people think you are qualified. Until this mentality changes, keep your fees akin to those in your area. In order to gain experience, you may choose to refer cases to more experienced attorneys but still retain some involvement so that you learn the process. Alternatively you can also find a more experienced attorney that agrees to serve as your mentor. Both of these things will aid you in decreasing your learning curve and the more deals or cases you take on, the more your reputation will grow.