"Going Solo" Immediately After Law School?

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law_grad_2019
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"Going Solo" Immediately After Law School?

Post by law_grad_2019 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:01 pm

Any tips, suggestions, general advice? I recently graduated from law school in 2019 and passed the North Carolina Bar Exam. I have always been the type of individual who would want to "be their own boss." I have yet to find a firm that I personally mesh well with or desire to join and dedicate years of my life to...so any helpful resources to aid in my decision would be GREATLY APPRECIATED. (Yes, I know this is extremely difficult to do, but my drive is unparalleled) I would prefer to find another like-minded and similarly situated recent law school graduate to open a practice with, but I am not opposed to going solo. (Any ideas as to where to find an individual to start a law firm with would also be extremely helpful!) Thanks!

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pancakes3
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Re: "Going Solo" Immediately After Law School?

Post by pancakes3 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:06 pm

join your local bar association and start networking.

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ymmv
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Re: "Going Solo" Immediately After Law School?

Post by ymmv » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:12 pm

law_grad_2019 wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:01 pm
Unfortunately law school does not prepare anyone adequately for the practice of law or the business of running a law firm. Running a case (let alone a caseload) unsupervised without experience in the relevant legal area is a recipe for disaster both for the 4L and the client. It is way easier, more practical, and safer for your clients to practice under the supervision of qualified attorneys until you have the training needed to strike it out on your own....which is why almost everyone does it that way (if at all) nowadays instead of trying to strike it out on their own right out of law school.

That, and because it's incredibly hard to make money at it unless you have the business experience or an extremely powerful knack for hustle. The opportunity costs required to get a practice of the ground are crazy high and also potentially disastrous if you don't have big savings or a trust fund to fall back on — that, or a partner/spouse willing to shoulder the burden of keeping you both afloat while you get your bearings and build a practice.

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ymmv
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Re: "Going Solo" Immediately After Law School?

Post by ymmv » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:14 pm

pancakes3 wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:06 pm
join your local bar association and start networking.
but yeah if you're gonna do it start hustling yesterday ^

you'll definitely need experienced attorney friends you can call willing to take your questions

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jeff chiles
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Re: "Going Solo" Immediately After Law School?

Post by jeff chiles » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:47 pm

i understand wanting to solo straight out, but even working for a crappy attorney or small firm for a year would be immensely valuable before going solo. there are a lot of little things you can learn during that time like pricing, basic marketing, local rules & court quirks (dumb stuff like where to park, where to file certain things, judge personalities, etc.) that are much harder to learn on your own. learning to pick clients and recognize pain in the butt clients that will sue you or not pay you is also pretty important and learning that as a solo will mean a lot of painful trial and error when you can't afford it

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BlendedUnicorn
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Re: "Going Solo" Immediately After Law School?

Post by BlendedUnicorn » Wed Aug 12, 2020 10:21 am

Try to get on the local CJA list or a state-level equivalent if you're interested in doing criminal work and make friends with your local public defenders who are probably Good People who will be willing to help show you the ropes because they don't want you to fuck up your clients' lives.

Story
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Re: "Going Solo" Immediately After Law School?

Post by Story » Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:32 pm

pancakes3 wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:06 pm
join your local bar association and start networking.
+1

You need to get to know people. Being a good businessperson and networker are as important, if not more important, than being a good lawyer IMO.

All the solos and small firm lawyers I know try to get their name out as much as possible. Speaking on panels, writing articles for the local bar journal, etc.

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bikeflip
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Re: "Going Solo" Immediately After Law School?

Post by bikeflip » Mon Nov 02, 2020 12:59 pm

Wonder if OP will ever come back...

Off the bat: Incorporate and get a trust account so you don't get disbarred for fucking with client money. Get a fucking mentor. Learn how to do attorney coverage work for other overworked solos, though with the pandemic this may not be a good way to network. Be flexible with payments and get on slow-pay low-pay lists for clientele that can't pay big retainers all at one. Get a good forms book, especially fee agreements; don't recreate this shit. Shop around for malpractice insurance; I think the going rate for a new solo will be $100/mo or so for a $1,000,000 policy. Learn what free legal resources are out there, especially how to grab your state's statutes and Google Scholar. Learn your local filing guidelines, and learn how to docket. Get a cheap laser printer and make sure your laptop is backed up. Buy basic office supplies, including a calendar. Get a cheap domain and route your solo email through it. Bike@bikefliplaw.com looks better than bikefliplaw@google.com. Use Google Voice for your work phone and make sure the default greeting is turned off. Design and print business cards. Learn basic accounting so you don't get disbarred. Learn which areas of law go with one another. For example, Crim law works well with traffic and DUIs, family law, and immigration. trusts and estates law works well with family law, elder law, social security law, etc. Bird law works well with anything.

Later on: Look at a virtual office with a conference room, so you don't meet clients at Starbucks (though probably less of a concern b/c COVID and WebEx). Get a docketing/case mgmt software system like RocketCase, Clio, Practice Panther, etc; most will have a free trial period. Get better legal resources, even if it's just Casemaker through your bar association. Join the bar association and be active in it; you can be on panels, join committees, write articles, drink free beer once networking mixers come back in like 2022, etc. Get better at accounting and then hire an accountant. Learn that many of your clients are unreasonable and that you shouldn't jump at every one of their commands, and learn how to fire an unreasonable client or a client who can't pay. Do not get stuck on cases with clients you hate.

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