Small-Town Law

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clarawater
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Small-Town Law

Postby clarawater » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:15 pm

I just wanted to get a little info/advice about the best type of law to go into that would transfer to "small-town law." By that I mean, working in an office in a smaller town or starting one's own firm, perhaps with a couple of partners.

I am not really a city person at all, though I have lived in a few and I will probably go to law school in one. However, in the long run, I really would like to be able to live in a small town like where I grew up. Just wondering if anyone had any experience with this, and if there are certain areas of law that are better suited/can be successful in a small town.

Hope that makes sense. If not, let me know. And thanks in advance!

EDIT: Maybe I should clarify a bit. I guess I just mean not "big city" law. Some type of law that is needed/used in places other than major commercial and corporate hubs such as cities.
Last edited by clarawater on Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Zugzwang
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby Zugzwang » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:26 pm

People are too poor in small towns to afford lawyers.

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kalvano
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby kalvano » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:28 pm

Make sure the town has another lawyer for you to fight with.

clarawater
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby clarawater » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:33 pm

Zugzwang wrote:People are too poor in small towns to afford lawyers.


Wow, really? Sometimes the comments on here are so ignorant, especially coming from potentially future lawyers.

What you said is definitely not the case. But thanks for the help.

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Zugzwang
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby Zugzwang » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:43 pm

clarawater wrote:Wow, really? Sometimes the comments on here are so ignorant, especially coming from potentially future lawyers.


People in general are too poor to afford lawyers. You think the average resident of bumblefuck, US, is better off? What kind of legal work exists in small towns, that is so complex, that the average joe is incapable of using the Internet and figuring out things like "If I build a shed, but don't lay a concrete foundation, I can avoid paying extra property tax"?
Last edited by Zugzwang on Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mfeller2
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby mfeller2 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:45 pm

My dad is a lawyer in a very small town and working for him during the summers I have some experience. Working in a small town you will most likely see a lot of family law, agriculture/water/land use law, and criminal law. My dad's also done a lot of bankruptcy, personal injury, and elder care law. Also estate planning. Pretty much everything can be found in small towns (besides big corporate law, securities, and banking), but it's important to be well versed in a lot of different areas because there aren't a lot of clients to be had so it's usually low volume with a diverse case load. It's tough to hang your own shingle in a small town without any ties though, in rural communities they want to do business with people they know and trust, but once you have a good standing in the community you can carve out a pretty nice life. Let me know if you have any specific questions, I'd be glad to help.

flexityflex86
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby flexityflex86 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:47 pm

i know a couple of matrimonial and tax lawyers in small towns that make a lot of money. obviously the amount you make will be contingent on the amount of money people have in these towns.

however, everyone needs a divorce and a lot of people have tax problems. particularly for the first one, most people would rather invest deeply personal matters in people they see at the corner store than some random guy in a big suit in a big city who they know doesn't care about them.

agree above post is ignorant. it does take some luck like any business, but you can definitely make more as a suburban matrimonial attorney owning a firm than as a big law partner. however, i'd imagine the first takes much more luck, and actual legal skill than the second.
Last edited by flexityflex86 on Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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kalvano
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby kalvano » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:48 pm

Zugzwang wrote:What kind of legal work exists in small towns, that is so complex, that the average joe is incapable of using the Internet and figuring out things like "If I build a shed, but don't lay a concrete foundation, I can avoid paying extra property tax"?



Really? Have you not had any exposure to the general public? People do insanely stupid shit all the time and need a lawyer to get them out of the mess. What seems glaringly obvious to lawyer or law student oftentimes never even enters the mind of the average Joe.

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mfeller2
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby mfeller2 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:48 pm

Zugzwang wrote:
clarawater wrote:Wow, really? Sometimes the comments on here are so ignorant, especially coming from potentially future lawyers.


People in general are too poor to afford lawyers. You think the average resident of bumblefuck, US, is better off? What kind of legal work exists in small towns, that is so complex, that the average joe is incapable of using the Internet and figuring out things like "If I build a shed, but don't lay a concrete foundation, I can avoid paying extra property tax"?


I hope you are kidding. Have you ever lived or worked in a small town?

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Montevillian
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby Montevillian » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:54 pm

My father is also a small-town lawyer, but he seems to mostly do DUIs and divorce work, with a decent amount of real estate thrown in there. It's true that the people around here can't afford lawyers, really, but his trick is that he gives basically everyone a "discount"- i.e., he says upfront he charges 200 /hour, but when they get the bill, it's roughly half that. He explains it by saying he didn't want to be a burden on them. Repeat business is RIDICULOUS.
If I can offer you any advice, it would probably be to join a "good old boy" in practice. In a small town, everyone knows everyone and it's hard to get business unless you already have connections. Good old boy lawyers are perfect for this, and will teach you everything you need to know.

Sorry I couldn't be more help in your exact question, but I hope that gave you an idea of what it's like. I work for him full-time right now, so that's what I've perceived.

flexityflex86
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby flexityflex86 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:54 pm

all towns work the same. smaller towns just have less people, and thinks work on a smaller scale (i.e. business mergers are for much smaller businesses).... not that difficult.

however, i'd imagine salary fluctuates much more than in large cities like LA and NYC as people can only pay the money they have, and people in one small town might on average made a quarter of people in another town.

this is more stress free work, but can be awkward. if you lose somebody's case you have to bump into them at the coffee shop.

flexityflex86
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby flexityflex86 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:55 pm

Montevillian wrote:My father is also a small-town lawyer, but he seems to mostly do DUIs and divorce work, with a decent amount of real estate thrown in there. It's true that the people around here can't afford lawyers, really, but his trick is that he gives basically everyone a "discount"- i.e., he says upfront he charges 200 /hour, but when they get the bill, it's roughly half that. He explains it by saying he didn't want to be a burden on them. Repeat business is RIDICULOUS.
If I can offer you any advice, it would probably be to join a "good old boy" in practice. In a small town, everyone knows everyone and it's hard to get business unless you already have connections. Good old boy lawyers are perfect for this, and will teach you everything you need to know.

Sorry I couldn't be more help in your exact question, but I hope that gave you an idea of what it's like. I work for him full-time right now, so that's what I've perceived.

i know someone who went to a TT in a small town, and works for a lawyer who has been on TV and prob makes about 700-800k a year. this kid gets paid about 40k.

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mfeller2
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby mfeller2 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:04 pm

Montevillian wrote:My father is also a small-town lawyer, but he seems to mostly do DUIs and divorce work, with a decent amount of real estate thrown in there. It's true that the people around here can't afford lawyers, really, but his trick is that he gives basically everyone a "discount"- i.e., he says upfront he charges 200 /hour, but when they get the bill, it's roughly half that. He explains it by saying he didn't want to be a burden on them. Repeat business is RIDICULOUS.
If I can offer you any advice, it would probably be to join a "good old boy" in practice. In a small town, everyone knows everyone and it's hard to get business unless you already have connections. Good old boy lawyers are perfect for this, and will teach you everything you need to know.

Sorry I couldn't be more help in your exact question, but I hope that gave you an idea of what it's like. I work for him full-time right now, so that's what I've perceived.


So true, discounts are necessary and used A LOT. And yes, real estate is a big one for small towns.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby gwuorbust » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:15 pm

what do you mean by "small-town"? are we talking like 1,000 people or 10,000?

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fatduck
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby fatduck » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:16 pm

money laundering for meth dealers can be quite lucrative

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rowingmyboat
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby rowingmyboat » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:24 pm

Another way is to work as a public defender for a while (not the most glamorous, I know) to get some name recognition. I know quite a few lawyers that started at the PDs office in small towns until they became more well known, started their own small offices, and then branched off from criminal work to divorces/personal injury/and so on.

From what I've seen, it is hard to specialize in just one area and keep busy though.

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billbrasky
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby billbrasky » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:50 pm

It really depends what "small town" you're talking about. For instance, if you're in a small town along the Mexico border, you're probably going to deal with a lot of immigration law and need to know spanish. More than likely, you are going to be doing a variety of practice areas (real estate, crim law, tax, bankruptcy, family law, etc). Similar to the things handled by legal aid.

gradesmatter
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby gradesmatter » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:53 pm

BIGMOBILEHOME law

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vanwinkle
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:55 pm

gwuorbust wrote:what do you mean by "small-town"? are we talking like 1,000 people or 10,000?

I love the idea that 1,000 is the low end. That's funny.

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mpj_3050
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby mpj_3050 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:55 pm

This is definitely relative to my interests. I'm defining small town a little more liberally: up to 40-50k residents. I'm taking on very low debt so that will certainly help but I'd love to get other people talking about their knowledge of legal practice in a smaller city or town.

EliHBCU
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby EliHBCU » Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:00 pm

Definitely Family law cases, possibly tax law if you specialize in that, and possibly Wills/Estate Planning.

And like some of the people above, I know several attorneys who have made very lucrative careers out of having a solo practice in a small town.

A word of advice though: If there are two small towns near enough to each other to commute, you may want to consider living in a different town then you work in. Going to the grocery store and running into the man/women who you raked over the coals in a divorce might be a little awkward. (Most of the attorneys I know who work in small towns commute.)

Anonymous User
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:45 am

I was thinking about this. There are a few small towns I would not mind working in. Santa Barbara, CA. Monterey, CA, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. Maybe even Santa Cruz, but that's a larger small town.

clarawater
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby clarawater » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:15 pm

Ahh, thanks everyone, all of that definitely helps. And again, it's mostly just because I am not a big city, or even "suburbs" person, so I just wanted to get some insight into a different side of law. All of that sounds interesting - particularly estate law.

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AreJay711
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby AreJay711 » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:26 pm

In my area there is a single estate lawyer that handles all the work. He gets most of his business through his church and word of mouth. People could travel a bit to find plenty of other lawyers in the real towns or even if DC if they have bank but no one does because they trust him (dude is the chalice bearer at communion so you know he won't fuck you over). Plus, estates are great since there is always money there that the people can pay and people will always die

I think you might have better luck at medium sized town or small city if you don't have strong ties. What comes to mind would be somewhere like Annapolis, MD or Charleston, SC for me because I'd like to do the same thing but there are plenty of good sized towns where there is legal work to be had.

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daesonesb
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Re: Small-Town Law

Postby daesonesb » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:33 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljua1P7M9DU#t=01m25s

Just make sure you put out ads like this man.




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