BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
legaleagle9
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:59 pm

BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby legaleagle9 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:29 am

From what I have read researching about life after law school, BigLaw is usually said to be one of the only ways to make the big bucks.

My question is: Is opening your own firm frowned upon, compared to trying to get into BigLaw.

I understand that opening your own firm takes times to grow, build a reputation, relationship with clients, ect.

But cant a person who opens his own Family Law Firm or Personal Injury Firm be just as successful, if not even more successful then BigLaw associates after some times?


p.s. I'm quite knew to all this research so go easy on me!

Thanks

User avatar
powerlawyer06
Posts: 233
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:20 am

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby powerlawyer06 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:44 am

Before everyone jumps on you (trust me they will). I think the answer to this is yes but in most cases no. Opening you own firm is hard work and the average law school graduate knows little about actually practicing law and/or running a business. So your chances of success are slim unless you gain a ton of experience and contacts before you decide to strike it out on your own. Even then, many solo practitioners never grow their firms above one or two lawyers and never truly make a decent amount of money. However there are those that are successful and are able to grow their firm and make serious cash.

I can say honestly that my wealthiest law clients (I work in finance) are the guys that started out as solo practitioners but grew their firm to a substantial size (10+ lawyers). They are usually reporting 300k+ but they run a ton of their personal expenses through the business so they are probably realizing 500k of income. They don’t work as hard as my corporate lawyer clients and they seem to be less stressed. The one common trait they all share is they are awesome networkers who found a business niche and exploited it. I don’t know a single one who is under the age of 40 either. I think it takes time to really make your practice a success.

These are just my own anecdotal observations. Take it for what its worth.

User avatar
fatduck
Posts: 4186
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:16 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby fatduck » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:54 am

start a biglaw firm

best of both worlds

Danteshek
Posts: 2172
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:40 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Danteshek » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:00 am

I had a serious discussion about this with my father a few days ago. The bottom line is that there are no shortcuts. You need to apprentice yourself to a lawyer who is really going to take an interest in you. You are unlikely to get that level of mentorship in a large law firm. I would recommend finding a smaller firm where the lawyers will help you develop into a true professional. Then, in five or six years, you can strike out on your own.

User avatar
XxSpyKEx
Posts: 1741
Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2006 5:48 am

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:18 pm

powerlawyer06 wrote:Before everyone jumps on you (trust me they will). I think the answer to this is yes but in most cases no. Opening you own firm is hard work and the average law school graduate knows little about actually practicing law and/or running a business. So your chances of success are slim unless you gain a ton of experience and contacts before you decide to strike it out on your own. Even then, many solo practitioners never grow their firms above one or two lawyers and never truly make a decent amount of money. However there are those that are successful and are able to grow their firm and make serious cash.

I can say honestly that my wealthiest law clients (I work in finance) are the guys that started out as solo practitioners but grew their firm to a substantial size (10+ lawyers). They are usually reporting 300k+ but they run a ton of their personal expenses through the business so they are probably realizing 500k of income. They don’t work as hard as my corporate lawyer clients and they seem to be less stressed. The one common trait they all share is they are awesome networkers who found a business niche and exploited it. I don’t know a single one who is under the age of 40 either. I think it takes time to really make your practice a success.

These are just my own anecdotal observations. Take it for what its worth.


Last summer, I met a couple attorneys who started their own firm (it was 3 of them that started the firm). The firm is now around 35 attorneys. All the founders are filthy rich. One of them owns an island. But they also didn’t attempt to start the law firm right out of law school (they had clients/contacts from their previous employment), and they were obviously more successful than the average start-up law firm.

User avatar
PurplePirate
Posts: 193
Joined: Tue May 11, 2010 4:01 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby PurplePirate » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:23 pm

fatduck wrote:start a biglaw firm

best of both worlds



+1000

legaleagle9
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 3:59 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby legaleagle9 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:39 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:
powerlawyer06 wrote:Before everyone jumps on you (trust me they will). I think the answer to this is yes but in most cases no. Opening you own firm is hard work and the average law school graduate knows little about actually practicing law and/or running a business. So your chances of success are slim unless you gain a ton of experience and contacts before you decide to strike it out on your own. Even then, many solo practitioners never grow their firms above one or two lawyers and never truly make a decent amount of money. However there are those that are successful and are able to grow their firm and make serious cash.

I can say honestly that my wealthiest law clients (I work in finance) are the guys that started out as solo practitioners but grew their firm to a substantial size (10+ lawyers). They are usually reporting 300k+ but they run a ton of their personal expenses through the business so they are probably realizing 500k of income. They don’t work as hard as my corporate lawyer clients and they seem to be less stressed. The one common trait they all share is they are awesome networkers who found a business niche and exploited it. I don’t know a single one who is under the age of 40 either. I think it takes time to really make your practice a success.

These are just my own anecdotal observations. Take it for what its worth.


Last summer, I met a couple attorneys who started their own firm (it was 3 of them that started the firm). The firm is now around 35 attorneys. All the founders are filthy rich. One of them owns an island. But they also didn’t attempt to start the law firm right out of law school (they had clients/contacts from their previous employment), and they were obviously more successful than the average start-up law firm.


hmm nice. just curious, what kind of practice was it?

User avatar
Cupidity
Posts: 2214
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:21 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Cupidity » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:49 am

I'll say it, because shockingly, no one else has.

For every lawyer who starts a solo firm and becomes filthy rich, there are a hundred who go broke paying rent on their office and trying to eat while waiting to make a profit. Don't start a firm until you have sufficient legal experience, capital, and connections that you can create a thriving practice, and suffer through a few years of minimal cashflow before you start to make anything liveable.

User avatar
EdmundBurke23
Posts: 223
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 4:37 am

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby EdmundBurke23 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:02 am

I've actually taken this option very seriously too (fyi - 0L here).

The problem for me is that I'm really interested in doing patent litigation and also want to (1) get into academia or (2) hang up my own shingle after six to seven years of biglaw. Not interested in becoming partner anymore.

Patent litigation doesnt' seem to be that big of a barrier to getting into academia, since what really matters is a consistent stream of scholarship after law school.

But I'm not sure how much my firm experience in a patent litigation team would help me strike out on my own, since associates usually don't get as much exposure to overseeing the entire litigation process.

shmoo597
Posts: 301
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:31 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby shmoo597 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:48 am

EdmundBurke23 wrote:I've actually taken this option very seriously too (fyi - 0L here).

The problem for me is that I'm really interested in doing patent litigation and also want to (1) get into academia or (2) hang up my own shingle after six to seven years of biglaw. Not interested in becoming partner anymore.

Patent litigation doesnt' seem to be that big of a barrier to getting into academia, since what really matters is a consistent stream of scholarship after law school.

But I'm not sure how much my firm experience in a patent litigation team would help me strike out on my own, since associates usually don't get as much exposure to overseeing the entire litigation process.



looooooooooooool.

Danteshek
Posts: 2172
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:40 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Danteshek » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:28 pm

shmoo597 wrote:
EdmundBurke23 wrote:I've actually taken this option very seriously too (fyi - 0L here).

The problem for me is that I'm really interested in doing patent litigation and also want to (1) get into academia or (2) hang up my own shingle after six to seven years of biglaw. Not interested in becoming partner anymore.

Patent litigation doesnt' seem to be that big of a barrier to getting into academia, since what really matters is a consistent stream of scholarship after law school.

But I'm not sure how much my firm experience in a patent litigation team would help me strike out on my own, since associates usually don't get as much exposure to overseeing the entire litigation process.



looooooooooooool.


My God.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

User avatar
bk1
Posts: 18421
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:06 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby bk1 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:31 pm

Cupidity wrote:I'll say it, because shockingly, no one else has.

For every lawyer who starts a solo firm and becomes filthy rich, there are a hundred who go broke paying rent on their office and trying to eat while waiting to make a profit. Don't start a firm until you have sufficient legal experience, capital, and connections that you can create a thriving practice, and suffer through a few years of minimal cashflow before you start to make anything liveable.


This cannot be emphasized enough.

Of course it is possible to be successful and of course people do it. However, they are not the norm and you won't even have a reliable estimation of whether you can be successful at it until much further down the road.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:36 pm

Most of the attorneys around here seem to have started out working in a nearby big city at a midlaw firm for 5-6 years before starting their own firm.

User avatar
lisjjen
Posts: 1242
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:19 am

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby lisjjen » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:40 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Most of the attorneys around here seem to have started out working in a nearby big city at a midlaw firm for 5-6 years before starting their own firm.


+1

From everyone I've talked to that's opened their own firm, they said not to skip working for someone else for awhile. One elderly gentleman from Texas phrased it well. "Think of the first 5 years out of law school like a medical residency - you aren't done learning yet. Why would you skip out on all the valuable knowledge you could absorb in a firm and then use in your own practice?"

User avatar
Kohinoor
Posts: 2756
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:51 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Kohinoor » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:14 pm

EdmundBurke23 wrote:I've actually taken this option very seriously too (fyi - 0L)

--ImageRemoved--

splitmuch
Posts: 968
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:27 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby splitmuch » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:23 pm

I work for a 3 lawyer firm that essentially settles everything ( so costs aren't super high) and we clear about 8 mil a yr in revenue.

TheStrand
Posts: 179
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2010 5:53 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby TheStrand » Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:53 pm

How are you going to pay your law school loans and pay for start up and overhead? Also, graduates know next to nothing about legal practice coming out of law school.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:25 pm

HLS 2L here strongly considering this option. Before the standard response, no, I didn't strike out at OCI, and am actually going to be working at a v50 this summer.

My thoughts? Life is way too short to spend any significant amount of time doing something you hate. I want to have client contact. I want to take cases and clients whose causes I actually care about, and reject those that I don't. I want to be able to work from home when I need to work from home, or vacation when I need to vacation. I want to go to court. I want to market how I want to market.

The big law associate happiness scale doesn't go from hate it to love it, it goes from hate it to tolerate it. I want more out of my degree and my life than striving to reach tolerating my job.

It won't be easy, but damn, I'd rather bankrupt my bank account trying to take ownership of my life rather than bankrupt my soul working big law.

User avatar
Moxie
Posts: 665
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:27 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Moxie » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:HLS 2L here strongly considering this option. Before the standard response, no, I didn't strike out at OCI, and am actually going to be working at a v50 this summer.

My thoughts? Life is way too short to spend any significant amount of time doing something you hate. I want to have client contact. I want to take cases and clients whose causes I actually care about, and reject those that I don't. I want to be able to work from home when I need to work from home, or vacation when I need to vacation. I want to go to court. I want to market how I want to market.

The big law associate happiness scale doesn't go from hate it to love it, it goes from hate it to tolerate it. I want more out of my degree and my life than striving to reach tolerating my job.

It won't be easy, but damn, I'd rather bankrupt my bank account trying to take ownership of my life rather than bankrupt my soul working big law.


You are the only person on this board who would say this.

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby delusional » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:HLS 2L here strongly considering this option. Before the standard response, no, I didn't strike out at OCI, and am actually going to be working at a v50 this summer.

My thoughts? Life is way too short to spend any significant amount of time doing something you hate. I want to have client contact. I want to take cases and clients whose causes I actually care about, and reject those that I don't. I want to be able to work from home when I need to work from home, or vacation when I need to vacation. I want to go to court. I want to market how I want to market.

The big law associate happiness scale doesn't go from hate it to love it, it goes from hate it to tolerate it. I want more out of my degree and my life than striving to reach tolerating my job.

It won't be easy, but damn, I'd rather bankrupt my bank account trying to take ownership of my life rather than bankrupt my soul working big law.

0L thinks you're cute.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:36 pm

Moxie wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:HLS 2L here strongly considering this option. Before the standard response, no, I didn't strike out at OCI, and am actually going to be working at a v50 this summer.

My thoughts? Life is way too short to spend any significant amount of time doing something you hate. I want to have client contact. I want to take cases and clients whose causes I actually care about, and reject those that I don't. I want to be able to work from home when I need to work from home, or vacation when I need to vacation. I want to go to court. I want to market how I want to market.

The big law associate happiness scale doesn't go from hate it to love it, it goes from hate it to tolerate it. I want more out of my degree and my life than striving to reach tolerating my job.

It won't be easy, but damn, I'd rather bankrupt my bank account trying to take ownership of my life rather than bankrupt my soul working big law.


You are the only person on this board who would say this.


You're probably right. I won't lie -- I'd love to get rich and have bottles and models (ok sans the models, since I have a wonderful SO) -- but I'd rather do it on my terms, not on someone elses.

I'm convinced that the reason people get so "omg you're crazy don't do it" on these boards is 10% because it's hard, 30% because its scary, and 60% because they're too brainwashed to even question the path that law schools push you down.

0L thinks you're cute.


Well thank you!

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby delusional » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:42 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
You're probably right. I won't lie -- I'd love to get rich and have bottles and models (ok sans the models, since I have a wonderful SO) -- but I'd rather do it on my terms, not on someone elses.

I'm convinced that the reason people get so "omg you're crazy don't do it" on these boards is 10% because it's hard, 30% because its scary, and 60% because they're too brainwashed to even question the path that law schools push you down.


Uh, no, it's because I am aware that people don't want to be "helped" or "saved". And your own terms means that you not only decide the terms but are responsible to see them through. Try making payroll a few weeks in a small office and tell me you want your "own terms".

Anonymous User
Posts: 273336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:52 pm

delusional wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
You're probably right. I won't lie -- I'd love to get rich and have bottles and models (ok sans the models, since I have a wonderful SO) -- but I'd rather do it on my terms, not on someone elses.

I'm convinced that the reason people get so "omg you're crazy don't do it" on these boards is 10% because it's hard, 30% because its scary, and 60% because they're too brainwashed to even question the path that law schools push you down.


Uh, no, it's because I am aware that people don't want to be "helped" or "saved". And your own terms means that you not only decide the terms but are responsible to see them through. Try making payroll a few weeks in a small office and tell me you want your "own terms".


Who said anything about helping or saving people? Wanting to choose what cases I take has nothing to do with helping or saving anyone. You should pepper up that reading comprehension before you actually get to law school.

I would love to do some work advising startups, work some soft ip cases, do some criminal defense/post conviction work, whatever interesting civil cases come my way, some entertainment law, etc. Obviously, I'd have less leeway at the beginning to turn down clients and cases, but I'd have no leeway in big law.

I also appreciate your mini lecture on having the responsibility to see my terms through. I guess my "I pick the terms and then take a nap" groundbreaking law firm concept is out the window. Damnit.

delusional
Posts: 1190
Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby delusional » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
delusional wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
You're probably right. I won't lie -- I'd love to get rich and have bottles and models (ok sans the models, since I have a wonderful SO) -- but I'd rather do it on my terms, not on someone elses.

I'm convinced that the reason people get so "omg you're crazy don't do it" on these boards is 10% because it's hard, 30% because its scary, and 60% because they're too brainwashed to even question the path that law schools push you down.


Uh, no, it's because I am aware that people don't want to be "helped" or "saved". And your own terms means that you not only decide the terms but are responsible to see them through. Try making payroll a few weeks in a small office and tell me you want your "own terms".


Who said anything about helping or saving people? Wanting to choose what cases I take has nothing to do with helping or saving anyone. You should pepper up that reading comprehension before you actually get to law school.

I would love to do some work advising startups, work some soft ip cases, do some criminal defense/post conviction work, whatever interesting civil cases come my way, some entertainment law, etc. Obviously, I'd have less leeway at the beginning to turn down clients and cases, but I'd have no leeway in big law.

I also appreciate your mini lecture on having the responsibility to see my terms through. I guess my "I pick the terms and then take a nap" groundbreaking law firm concept is out the window. Damnit.

I still think that it was a reaosnable interpretation of this
I want to take cases and clients whose causes I actually care about,

Regardless, I know nothing about law, but I know a little about small offices and being your own boss. You can take it or leave it, I guess. You don't make your own hours. You work while you pee. Who is going to buy your toilet paper and mop your floor when it's just you and a secretary? Are you going to be happy spending your time trying to find a neighboring business to share a trash pickup with, instead of doing legal work you don't like?

Anonymous User
Posts: 273336
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: BigLaw vs opening your own firm?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:05 pm

delusional wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
delusional wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
You're probably right. I won't lie -- I'd love to get rich and have bottles and models (ok sans the models, since I have a wonderful SO) -- but I'd rather do it on my terms, not on someone elses.

I'm convinced that the reason people get so "omg you're crazy don't do it" on these boards is 10% because it's hard, 30% because its scary, and 60% because they're too brainwashed to even question the path that law schools push you down.


Uh, no, it's because I am aware that people don't want to be "helped" or "saved". And your own terms means that you not only decide the terms but are responsible to see them through. Try making payroll a few weeks in a small office and tell me you want your "own terms".


Who said anything about helping or saving people? Wanting to choose what cases I take has nothing to do with helping or saving anyone. You should pepper up that reading comprehension before you actually get to law school.

I would love to do some work advising startups, work some soft ip cases, do some criminal defense/post conviction work, whatever interesting civil cases come my way, some entertainment law, etc. Obviously, I'd have less leeway at the beginning to turn down clients and cases, but I'd have no leeway in big law.

I also appreciate your mini lecture on having the responsibility to see my terms through. I guess my "I pick the terms and then take a nap" groundbreaking law firm concept is out the window. Damnit.

I still think that it was a reaosnable interpretation of this
I want to take cases and clients whose causes I actually care about,

Regardless, I know nothing about law, but I know a little about small offices and being your own boss. You can take it or leave it, I guess. You don't make your own hours. You work while you pee. Who is going to buy your toilet paper and mop your floor when it's just you and a secretary? Are you going to be happy spending your time trying to find a neighboring business to share a trash pickup with, instead of doing legal work you don't like?


Clients and cases I care about doesn't really equate to saving people.

As for your questions, at some point you do make your own hours. Not for awhile, of course, but when you establish yourself. I have no illusions that I'd be working when I want or taking month long vacations two weeks after setting up my practice.

There are suites and buildings of suites, some full of other lawyers, that probably include toilet paper. I can mop my own floors if necessary...thank God I wasn't coddled growing up. And yes, I'd much prefer to have to find a business to share trash pickup with than have to sift through legal trash on my desk for 12 hours a day.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.