Hanging Out Your Shingle - 7 Years Later

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gwuorbust
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Re: Hanging Out Your Shingle - 7 Years Later

Postby gwuorbust » Mon May 23, 2011 4:28 pm

From what I read Westlaw can easily cost $500-1k for solos per month.

but for Lexis, it is only $175/month. While I much prefer WestLaw, if I do end up going solo I will be choosing Lexis.

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A'nold
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Re: Hanging Out Your Shingle - 7 Years Later

Postby A'nold » Mon May 23, 2011 4:35 pm

gwuorbust wrote:From what I read Westlaw can easily cost $500-1k for solos per month.

but for Lexis, it is only $175/month. While I much prefer WestLaw, if I do end up going solo I will be choosing Lexis.

Thanks. Just skimmed it but didn't catch whether it was unlimitted. Is it?

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A'nold
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Re: Hanging Out Your Shingle - 7 Years Later

Postby A'nold » Mon May 23, 2011 4:43 pm

Just as an FYI for readers that are wondering:

As of right now, I am planning on becoming a prosecutor and possible opening a firm approx. 10 years down the road (gov. IBR).

However, if I don't like it (internship this summer) or if I give a good faith effort to find work and I can't land anything, I plan on going solo right after school.

The ONLY way I would not do this would be if:
1. A biglaw job paying over 120k landed in my lap, just to pay off my loans. Not going to happen.
2. I get a job with a firm that absolutely with precision does the kind of work I want to do on my own and will give me significant experience/independence. I would only do this for maybe a year. I don't believe you NEED the experience, but it would be nice to learn the little things like how and what room to turn in a specific document at the courthouse, experience with billing clients, and little tips from the senior attorney that you wouldn't catch right away on your own.

If either of those things do not happen and I choose not to do ADA work, I will definitely be going solo. There's just no point in working at a dead end, 50k a year small law firm when you could be out building your firm during that time. UNLESS of course you really can learn a lot. But I'd have to be told up front that I would be doing tons of hands-on stuff that significantly related to the area of law I plan to practice in. In any event, there is very little chance that I'd stay there for more than a year.

flcath
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Re: Hanging Out Your Shingle - 7 Years Later

Postby flcath » Mon May 23, 2011 4:48 pm

A'nold wrote:Just as an FYI for readers that are wondering:

As of right now, I am planning on becoming a prosecutor and possible opening a firm approx. 10 years down the road (gov. IBR).

However, if I don't like it (internship this summer) or if I give a good faith effort to find work and I can't land anything, I plan on going solo right after school.

The ONLY way I would not do this would be if:
1. A biglaw job paying over 120k landed in my lap, just to pay off my loans. Not going to happen.
2. I get a job with a firm that absolutely with precision does the kind of work I want to do on my own and will give me significant experience/independence. I would only do this for maybe a year. I don't believe you NEED the experience, but it would be nice to learn the little things like how and what room to turn in a specific document at the courthouse, experience with billing clients, and little tips from the senior attorney that you wouldn't catch right away on your own.

If either of those things do not happen and I choose not to do ADA work, I will definitely be going solo. There's just no point in working at a dead end, 50k a year small law firm when you could be out building your firm during that time. UNLESS of course you really can learn a lot. But I'd have to be told up front that I would be doing tons of hands-on stuff that significantly related to the area of law I plan to practice in. In any event, there is very little chance that I'd stay there for more than a year.

What law school rank / grades?

Not that it's relevant for the solo path (we seem to agree on that), but it might be relevant for determining whether something else is better?

Also, what kind of debt you got?

sidhesadie
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Re: Hanging Out Your Shingle - 7 Years Later

Postby sidhesadie » Mon May 23, 2011 5:08 pm

My ex husband has a law firm, started as he and a partner, partner eventually left , so now it's him with several associate attorneys. We were married when he started the firm.

His personal income is over 150k a year, and his start up costs were nowhere even close to 200K. Not even close. He leases an office suite with 5 offices, a conference room, a file room and a reception area.

I know he uses Lexis, not Westlaw. After payroll, advertising and office space are some of the larger line items in the budget. A full page yellow pages ad is shockingly expensive.

I worked in his office for several years. No one ever asked where he went to school, not once. He doesn't do corporate type cases, they might be more likely to ask such things I suppose. He does criminal defense, family law, and minor contract type issues (residential real estate, small business). Some people asked things like "has he done this type of case before" or "how many of these does he do a year", but no one ever asked where he (or any of the other attorneys) went to school, nor did they ever ask what year he graduated.

edited to add: we lived in a medium sized town, population of the area about 100K. There were times he wasn't sure how to do something new that came along. He'd call other attorneys (other solo/small office practitioners) and ask them, and there were format books/discs with the proper form for everything on it. If a judge wanted something a particular way, they'd just send it back over to us with a note.

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kalvano
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Re: Hanging Out Your Shingle - 7 Years Later

Postby kalvano » Mon May 23, 2011 6:47 pm

A'nold wrote:
flcath wrote:
A'nold wrote:One thing that does bother me though:

I am a Westlaw addict. It would cost WAY too much to have Westlaw as a fledgling solo.....I'd feel like I was missing something if I did all my research at the library.

Not necessarily true. Westlaw practices hardcore price discrimination.

Someone in class said it'd be like over a grand a month? B.s. or truth?



I spoke with our Westlaw rep at school, and she said it's mostly extra licenses that cost all the money. You can do state-specific unlimited search plans that are pretty cheap. Not $175 cheap, but far less than $1000.

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Royal
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Re: Hanging Out Your Shingle - 7 Years Later

Postby Royal » Tue May 24, 2011 12:38 am

Gideon Strumpet wrote:
gwuorbust wrote:I understand that everyone who goes into their own practice will not be successful. But I do not think it is as impossible as it is made out to be.

The "biggest problem with most law students" is that they lack the resources, talent, skills, personality, knowledge, ambition, and work ethic needed to build a successful small business. If they had all those things, they wouldn't have gone to law school.


This is true for many students, but not all. I went to law school with the goal of going solo after getting a few years of experience under my belt. It's been a dream for a long time. If I didn't go to law school, I'd be starting a different small business. I spend an embarrassingly large amount of my free time learning about law firm marketing and practice management.

That said, the vast majority of law students I've met lack any entrepreneurial spirit. They want a cushy job. They've also, for the most part, never held real jobs. People who go solo out of necessity are destined to fail. Going solo isn't a "job." It's like any other small business -- it becomes inextricably intertwined with your life. While some people have the right personality for that, many people, especially those who become solo by necessity, don't. Many of the solos I've met who have done it by choice are both happy and successful.

Also, two large myths that are constantly parroted by people on forums quick to deride the idea of starting a firm: the cost of westlaw/lexis and the cost of insurance. Malpractice insurance is cheap for most practice areas solos get involved with. <$1000 a year in many cases. I've heard that cheap westlaw plans (One state + applicable fed for that state) can be had for under $200 a month as well. It's my understanding that it starts to add up when you get access to treatises and other secondary sources.




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