Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

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Garinold
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Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby Garinold » Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:33 pm

Anyone know someone that worked in a small or medium size firm and after learning the trade and making enough money struck out on their own? Also can anyone recommend a book or two on solo practice and/or starting your own firm? This is the route in life I am beginning to think about taking more and more, and I would like to learn as much as possible about it while I'm still in school.

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RVP11
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby RVP11 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:40 pm

--ImageRemoved--

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SteelReserve
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby SteelReserve » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:29 pm

How to Start and Build a Law Practice by Foonberg. It is always the #1 recommended book for individuals seeking to start a firm.

There are some good posts on abovethelaw as well about people who have recently started solo firms.

Anonymous User
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:04 pm

I'm with you op. This is definitely one of my long-term goals, unless something I deem better presents itself.

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cantaboot
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby cantaboot » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:10 pm

It is very difficult to develop a book of clients... isn't this the biggest hurdle?

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A'nold
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby A'nold » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:16 am

What if you want to do Tort law? I know you get cases by referral but most cases would probably just be random inquiries from people with no idea how anything legal works that have become injured.

sccjnthn
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby sccjnthn » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:59 am

I haven't checked this blog in a couple of years but used to visit it when I was first considering law school.
My shingle:http://www.myshingle.com/

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:25 am

Any asshole with a JD and good standing before the State bar can open a law practice. It takes a special asshole to find, cultivate and keep clients.

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby Mr. Matlock » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:31 am

reasonable_man wrote:Any asshole with a JD and good standing before the State bar can open a law practice. It takes a special asshole to find, cultivate and keep clients.

I really hate to be negative on a subject like this. In fact, eventually going solo has always been a dream of mine. But the following blog post really scares the shit out of me:

--LinkRemoved--

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BruceBarr
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby BruceBarr » Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:37 am

Im not in law school yet, but I do believe I can help a little bit here. I work at Michigan's #1 bankruptcy firm, and my boss did it on his own.

He worked at a mid-sized Detroit firm for a while (30-60 people) and developed himself in the local area. He made connections over about ten years and got in with the right crowd. When he started it, he signed "treaties" of sort with other people. More or less they said "you help me, I help you". He simply met the right people and discerned who to stick with and who to ditch. Then, when he hired hired his staff, he was smart about it. He gave out internships to young law students at Wayne State University and molded them into the lawyer HE wanted them to be. Then, when they graduated, not only did they do well in law school because of his help, they also knew exactly what his expectations were when they started work. That technique saved him having to pay the big bucks to top 10% Univ. of Michigan grads. He also followed the times in Detroit. When Detroit was doing O.K. ten years ago, he practiced a lot of different areas of law. Now that Detroit is slowly crumbling, he does about 98% bankruptcy. So, all in all, he wasn't afraid to modify the "type" of firm he ran... which turned out to be very lucrative.

I don't know if this helps at all... but hey. Hopefully.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:00 pm

Mr. Matlock wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:Any asshole with a JD and good standing before the State bar can open a law practice. It takes a special asshole to find, cultivate and keep clients.

I really hate to be negative on a subject like this. In fact, eventually going solo has always been a dream of mine. But the following blog post really scares the shit out of me:

--LinkRemoved--


For every successful solo attorney, there are about 25 starving ones.

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CE2JD
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby CE2JD » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:10 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
Mr. Matlock wrote:
reasonable_man wrote:Any asshole with a JD and good standing before the State bar can open a law practice. It takes a special asshole to find, cultivate and keep clients.

I really hate to be negative on a subject like this. In fact, eventually going solo has always been a dream of mine. But the following blog post really scares the shit out of me:

--LinkRemoved--


For every successful solo attorney, there are about 25 starving ones.


What about solo patent guys?

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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:54 pm

I know someone who went solo straight out of law school doing criminal defense. Got clients by taking appointments which the court gives out 1-2 times a month. Our PD's office doesn't have enough attorneys to cover all the cases they get, so the surplus is given out.

I also know a couple guys who have recently started their own firm together. One previously worked at a small firm, and the other previously worked for the PD's office. They do criminal defense, civil rights, and employee rights.

I don't know what anybody makes, but I know the people I listed support themselves and are doing sufficiently well that they can go out, occasionally take a vacation somewhere, and so on. They all went to a state law school 5-10 years ago with tuition of less than $10K/year so there's no major debt issue. All three seem very happy with what they are doing.

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NayBoer
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby NayBoer » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:43 pm

I work for a small firm that started as a solo prac. Boss worked for big firms for at least a decade. He's spent many years building a name with publications, speeches and interviews. Most new business comes either from people who read an article or heard an interview or speech, or from contacts giving out his name.

As far as I can tell, you need to get contacts and reputation going to start a firm. You need some way to bring in clients. Advertising is a little taboo for lawyers outside of personal injury and Roni Deutch, so contacts is the name.

Really need to work for a number of years to get experience and reputation, as well as contacts with non-lawyers in the field (so they will refer people to you, since they aren't themselves attorneys). What type of law are you looking to practice?

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A'nold
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby A'nold » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:42 pm

What about personal injury? No real need for contacts I'd think......
Last edited by A'nold on Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Aeroplane
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby Aeroplane » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:44 pm

A'nold wrote:What about personal injury? No real need for a clientele I'd think......

You still need clients. Unless you plan to be injured repeatedly yourself.

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A'nold
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby A'nold » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:46 pm

Aeroplane wrote:
A'nold wrote:What about personal injury? No real need for a clientele I'd think......

You still need clients. Unless you plan to be injured repeatedly yourself.


Edited, lol. :oops:

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:48 pm

A'nold wrote:What about personal injury? No real need for contacts I'd think......


Possibly the silliest statement in the thread?

Most personal injury cases are hardly even break even propositions for PI shops... The 'big' cases all go to the well known PI law firms, not the small-time solo shops.

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Garinold
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby Garinold » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:12 pm

NayBoer wrote:I work for a small firm that started as a solo prac. Boss worked for big firms for at least a decade. He's spent many years building a name with publications, speeches and interviews. Most new business comes either from people who read an article or heard an interview or speech, or from contacts giving out his name.

As far as I can tell, you need to get contacts and reputation going to start a firm. You need some way to bring in clients. Advertising is a little taboo for lawyers outside of personal injury and Roni Deutch, so contacts is the name.

Really need to work for a number of years to get experience and reputation, as well as contacts with non-lawyers in the field (so they will refer people to you, since they aren't themselves attorneys). What type of law are you looking to practice?


I honestly don't know. I am interested in Bankruptcy law but my mind is open to pretty much anything. The main goal I have in mind is taking on whatever kind of law that gets the largest volume of work & cash in the door as quickly as possible, not necessarily to enrich myself at the outset, but to expand my business by opening new locations and constantly hiring new people.

Bankruptcy comes to mind because one can always count on the financial misfortune of people in this country, and tax also comes to mind (but I suppose the volume of tax work would be in an accounting firm).
Last edited by Garinold on Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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kittenmittons
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby kittenmittons » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:14 pm

JSUVA2012 wrote:--ImageRemoved--


Image

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NayBoer
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby NayBoer » Mon Jan 11, 2010 6:22 pm

Garinold wrote:I honestly don't know. I am interested in Bankruptcy law but my mind is open to pretty much anything. The main goal I have in mind is taking on whatever kind of law that gets the largest volume of work & cash in the door as quickly as possible, not necessarily to enrich myself at the outset, but to expand my business by opening new locations and constantly hiring new people.

Bankruptcy comes to mind because one can always count on the financial misfortune of people in this country, and tax also comes to mind (but I suppose the volume of tax work would be in an accounting firm).
I'm not sure your business plan reflects the way most law firms grow and expand, but I'll let you work that out.

Roni Deutch comes to mind as using an aggressive strategy you might like. But they have one location for the whole country since they just need to call the IRS; customers hire Roni Deutch and pay a fee, Roni Deutch calls the IRS to try and get a reduction. No need for customers to ever see the office or even know where it is. Had a friend who interviewed there; he siad it was very casual dress, but the job was a little sales-like in its focus. He decided not to work there, even though it meant continuing in a non-tax job. They take clients who have zero chance of reduction (which the IRS only grants in hardship cases or when they are proven wrong) and it's a little shady.

Bankruptcy is not known for its high margins. Rates are often monitored by courts and trustees.

You sound like you're describing a personal injury firm (work small cases all the time for small settlements until you hit a big one and make millions; repeat) or an ADA mill (get some guy in a wheelchair to go to every business in town and determine that their shelves are four inches too high or their ramps are 10% too steep; offer to settle instead of sue). I don't think either model necessarily needs lots of locations to work.

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Garinold
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby Garinold » Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:36 am

Sorry its been a while since I've taken a look at this thread (LS started a new :( ). I would like to discuss how exactly a law firm grows. You are right NayBoer, I really don't know exactly how law firms typically grow. What I do know is that there are many "biglaw" firms across the country (just do a few searches on --LinkRemoved--). I also think it is unlikely that these are the only "biglaw" firms that will exist for the next half a century. Someone somewhere is going to start a new law firm and it will grow and be amazingly successful. I just wonder how exactly is it done.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:00 am

Garinold wrote:Sorry its been a while since I've taken a look at this thread (LS started a new :( ). I would like to discuss how exactly a law firm grows. You are right NayBoer, I really don't know exactly how law firms typically grow. What I do know is that there are many "biglaw" firms across the country (just do a few searches on --LinkRemoved--). I also think it is unlikely that these are the only "biglaw" firms that will exist for the next half a century. Someone somewhere is going to start a new law firm and it will grow and be amazingly successful. I just wonder how exactly is it done.



See: Boise, Shiller & Flexner and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Both firms (one in the 60's[WLRK], and one in the 90's [BSF]), started with just a few lawyers and grew steadily to become 'larger' mid-sized firms that are quite prestigious. However, the founding partners of WLRK were brilliant graduates of NYU Law who happened to be Jewish at a time where Jews were not welcome at white-shoe Cravath and the like and thus started their own shop. They also cashed in because Herb Wachtel and Marty Lipton happen to be fucking brilliant.

BSF gained prominance quickly because David Boise is probably one of the best litigators in the Country. He has an ivy LS background with a community college start and severe dsylexia. However, the guy is just insanely good at what he does and one of those rare people wo refused to let anything stop him.

Starting a firm that eventually grows to a mid to large size is not something that most people have the capacity to do. It requires not only being able to offer a stellar product, but more importantly, recruit and sustain substantial (and consistent) flows of business, while organizing your firm structure and constantly adapting to your new size and capabilities. In short, its not easy at all. Moreover, it usually requires having brought from a prior prestigious firm a rather strong following of loyal big-name (paying) clients.

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NayBoer
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Re: Small/Medium Size Firm -> Owning your own

Postby NayBoer » Tue Jan 19, 2010 3:09 pm

Unlike a widget factory, growing a firm is more than expanding plant and machinery. The products come from other lawyers, and their reputations and connections make the product more valuable and bring in customers. You can't just be successful then start opening law firm franchises, generally. A lot of big firms get that way by mergers or by recruiting.

The model puts tons of emphasis on individual lawyers and lots of negotiating power in the hands of partners. So it's not really feasible to be a law firm mogul in the mold of Carnegie or Rockefeller (a single ambitious leader who builds an empire through growth and strategic business thinking).

If you are ambitious and want to be successful, then get all A+ grades in LS, bill as many hours as you can stomach in a firm, and network like crazy in your spare time (joining professional groups like the bar section for your specialty, for example).




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