Sole practitioner salary

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Geon
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Sole practitioner salary

Postby Geon » Sat Apr 07, 2012 11:22 pm

Just curious, I notice very few t-14 grads go into sole practice, but the few who do incomes are never reported in salary survey. So out of curiosity what kind of money are they making. I am sure it varies by market, so I guess if you are reading this and are knowledgeable on the topic you can give me a break down of your geographic area, and what a sole practitioner would earn in their first year, 2nd year and 5th year. Would coming from a t-14 make any difference for a sole practitoiner?

Can sole practitioners ever catch up in terms of salary to big law?

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dingbat
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby dingbat » Sat Apr 07, 2012 11:35 pm

Sole practitioners are starting a business.
That means income will vary significantly based on their ability to attract and retain customers.
Fresh out of law school it is unlikely that they can attract a lot of business or charge high rates (no contacts, no track record, no experience), so in most cases they'll be making very little

Of course, there are exceptions

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holdencaulfield
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby holdencaulfield » Sat Apr 07, 2012 11:36 pm

It varies so much that there is no real answer to your question. I do know two successful solos who have about $350,000 and $300,000 in billables per year. Some have more, some have much less. There's no salary; you only keep what you kill after paying bills, staff, research, and malpractice insurance.

It will be incredibly tough if you go solo straight out of law school.

Geon
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Geon » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:38 am

dingbat wrote:Sole practitioners are starting a business.
That means income will vary significantly based on their ability to attract and retain customers.
Fresh out of law school it is unlikely that they can attract a lot of business or charge high rates (no contacts, no track record, no experience), so in most cases they'll be making very little

Of course, there are exceptions


I understand that but there must be some kind of typical range, I only ever saw one that showed 50k

Geon
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Geon » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:39 am

holdencaulfield wrote:It varies so much that there is no real answer to your question. I do know two successful solos who have about $350,000 and $300,000 in billables per year. Some have more, some have much less. There's no salary; you only keep what you kill after paying bills, staff, research, and malpractice insurance.

It will be incredibly tough if you go solo straight out of law school.

how long have they been in practice.

09042014
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby 09042014 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:53 am

I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.

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Always Credited
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Always Credited » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:20 am

Desert Fox wrote:I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.


What the standards should be
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What the standards actually are
-------------------------------

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Veyron
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Veyron » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:45 am

Spoken to a few people planing on going solo out of law school. First year as a solo is pretty meger and its more common to loose money than make it I think. Eventually you can surpass biglaw salary scale and some solos do (though they are still a minority). More commonly a lawyer who starts a solo and ends up making bank will do so by growing the firm. 5-50 man firms can be extremely profitable, especially when all the profit flows to one individual.


I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.


People who end up going solo out of law school tend to have the foresight to load up on clinicals and externsips in their field(s) of interest. They graduate with a different skillet than most starting biglawyers
Last edited by Veyron on Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

Geon
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Geon » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:47 am

Desert Fox wrote:I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.


REALLY, are you sure you are in law school? Maybe they haven't gotten to the practical part for you yet.
I have represented myself numerous times in court and won all of them, I have prosecuted my own case in superior court, so it makes me scratch my head when you make such a comment.

If you pass the bar you should be a competent lawyer.

09042014
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby 09042014 » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:50 am

Geon wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.


REALLY, are you sure you are in law school? Maybe they haven't gotten to the practical part for you yet.
I have represented myself numerous times in court and won all of them, I have prosecuted my own case in superior court, so it makes me scratch my head when you make such a comment.

If you pass the bar you should be a competent lawyer.


There is no practical part. What school did you go to that had a practical part.

I don't even know how to plead a case in my own state court because my civ pro doesn't teach it. Isn't the bar pretty generic shit? Does studying for 2 months really qualify you to practice. Seems sketchy as fuck to me.

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Veyron
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Veyron » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:54 am

Geon is a 0L ... from Canada.

rad lulz
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby rad lulz » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:58 am

.
Last edited by rad lulz on Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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rayiner
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby rayiner » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:00 am

The average income of a solo practitioner in 2004 was about $46,000, a decline of 30% from a generation ago: http://www.americanbar.org/publications ... ander.html

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Kronk
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Kronk » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:01 am

Desert Fox wrote:
Geon wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.


REALLY, are you sure you are in law school? Maybe they haven't gotten to the practical part for you yet.
I have represented myself numerous times in court and won all of them, I have prosecuted my own case in superior court, so it makes me scratch my head when you make such a comment.

If you pass the bar you should be a competent lawyer.


There is no practical part. What school did you go to that had a practical part.

I don't even know how to plead a case in my own state court because my civ pro doesn't teach it. Isn't the bar pretty generic shit? Does studying for 2 months really qualify you to practice. Seems sketchy as fuck to me.


Geon is probably an idiot, given I don't see why you would be in court that often while in law school for yourself unless you're an alcoholic or an annoying sonofabitch for your landlord.

That said, they let the 2L summers at most PD offices carry an actual caseload of misdemeanors, and it's actually a lot easier than you'd think it would be.

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Veyron
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Veyron » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:26 am

Kronk wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:
Geon wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.


REALLY, are you sure you are in law school? Maybe they haven't gotten to the practical part for you yet.
I have represented myself numerous times in court and won all of them, I have prosecuted my own case in superior court, so it makes me scratch my head when you make such a comment.

If you pass the bar you should be a competent lawyer.


There is no practical part. What school did you go to that had a practical part.

I don't even know how to plead a case in my own state court because my civ pro doesn't teach it. Isn't the bar pretty generic shit? Does studying for 2 months really qualify you to practice. Seems sketchy as fuck to me.


Geon is probably an idiot, given I don't see why you would be in court that often while in law school for yourself unless you're an alcoholic or an annoying sonofabitch for your landlord.

That said, they let the 2L summers at most PD offices carry an actual caseload of misdemeanors, and it's actually a lot easier than you'd think it would be.


Misdemeanors ain't shit.

Geon
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Geon » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:45 am

Veyron wrote:Geon is a 0L ... from Canada.

+1

Geon
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Geon » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:47 am

Desert Fox wrote:
Geon wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.


REALLY, are you sure you are in law school? Maybe they haven't gotten to the practical part for you yet.
I have represented myself numerous times in court and won all of them, I have prosecuted my own case in superior court, so it makes me scratch my head when you make such a comment.

If you pass the bar you should be a competent lawyer.


There is no practical part. What school did you go to that had a practical part.

I don't even know how to plead a case in my own state court because my civ pro doesn't teach it. Isn't the bar pretty generic shit? Does studying for 2 months really qualify you to practice. Seems sketchy as fuck to me.


I didn't even go to law school yet. Which is why I am surprised about your statement. I'd figure 3 years of law school + bar ought to give you the skills to at least be able to research case law + statutes + rules of procedure to argue in front of the court.

Geon
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Geon » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:49 am

Kronk wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:
Geon wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.


REALLY, are you sure you are in law school? Maybe they haven't gotten to the practical part for you yet.
I have represented myself numerous times in court and won all of them, I have prosecuted my own case in superior court, so it makes me scratch my head when you make such a comment.

If you pass the bar you should be a competent lawyer.


There is no practical part. What school did you go to that had a practical part.

I don't even know how to plead a case in my own state court because my civ pro doesn't teach it. Isn't the bar pretty generic shit? Does studying for 2 months really qualify you to practice. Seems sketchy as fuck to me.


Geon is probably an idiot, given I don't see why you would be in court that often while in law school for yourself unless you're an alcoholic or an annoying sonofabitch for your landlord.

That said, they let the 2L summers at most PD offices carry an actual caseload of misdemeanors, and it's actually a lot easier than you'd think it would be.


-Yes I am an idiot that is why I want to go to a t-14 law school in the US.
-not in law school
-Yes because anyone who is in court must be an alcoholic or dead beat as opposed to a victim of a crime or unscrupulous business fraud

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:52 am

Going solo straight out of law school is gutsy. And there's no way someone can provide an estimate for how much you will make. It's like running a small business--you'll probably lose money the first couple of years before you start making a profit. (And how much profit you make depends on how good you are at attracting business.) That is unless you team up with someone who already has a book of business. Or you have a ton of connections and able to establish a ton of business fast. Then you might have a profit when you first start.

And while if a person loads up on clinics and externships they could learn practical skills, most law students know shit about actually practicing law in the real world. I fall in with the latter group.

Geon
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Geon » Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:55 am

rayiner wrote:The average income of a solo practitioner in 2004 was about $46,000, a decline of 30% from a generation ago: http://www.americanbar.org/publications ... ander.html


That sucks. But I guess if you put yourself in a rich neighbourhood you are bound to get good paying clients no?

Out of curoisty. In Canada , poor people are given legal aid certificates if they cannot pay for a lawyer. These certificates are basically used at any lawyer's office and if the lawyer accept the client he can cash in the certificate for money. Does US have a similar system or is it something different?

Anonymous User
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:08 am

Worked with what you would call a solo practitioner in California (though they just, after many years, added a partner so now it is a two person firm essentially (with an occasional clerk/associate)). It is plaintiff-side law, which means this (which can be awesome or undoable depending on your risk tolerance, luck etc): it is feast or famine. You only get paid if you win. If I didn't work for this firm, I would be thinking horrible ambulance chasing life. Not so. This lawyer (or these two I guess, but mainly the one did these cases) closed 2 7-figure verdicts in the few months I was there, and another 7-figure settlement. So do the math - 1 person/2 people get, say, 1/3 of each of the settlements. They have to pay off whatever expense they put in, such as paying for deposition expenses, experts, etc., and had to lay out that money up front, not knowing if they would recoup (ie lose the case and get nothing). And of course they may go years with appeals, etc before they see a dime even if they do win. That's the risk/famine side. But, when the payday comes in, it's a multiple-of-seven-figures payday - and unlike with a BigLaw firm, it doesn't go to some pool and you just get your salary or bonus. The solo practitioner gets a multi-million dollar payday.

So that's the joy/risk/misery of independent practice. Of course, if you don't have a way to get the leads, you may be begging for $15K auto wreck cases, hoping to get $5K out of them. But this may be helpful to note that not every solo is just billing hours and settling for 50K/year. Oh yeah, because it's their own firm, jeans in the office, joke around/great environment, no a-hole partner giving you crap, etc.

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Kronk
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Kronk » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:13 am

Geon wrote:-Yes I am an idiot that is why I want to go to a t-14 law school in the US.
-not in law school
-Yes because anyone who is in court must be an alcoholic or dead beat as opposed to a victim of a crime or unscrupulous business fraud


Getting into a T-14 is chump change. Wanting to get into a T-14 is even chumper change. Being a victim of business fraud is chump pennies. Representing yourself is different than representing other people, unless you want to charge yourself with malpractice.

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Veyron
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Veyron » Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:40 am

Out of curoisty. In Canada , poor people are given legal aid certificates if they cannot pay for a lawyer. These certificates are basically used at any lawyer's office and if the lawyer accept the client he can cash in the certificate for money. Does US have a similar system or is it something different?


Indignant clients are either assigned a public defender or the court will allow a private attorney to pick up the case for a court awarded fee. Depends on the jurisdiction or the caseload of the PD's office. If you don't like the lawyer you are initially assigned you can typically get assigned another. This only applies to criminal cases. There is no national right to a lawyer in civil cases although some jurisdictions do provide the poor with lawyers to handle some types of civil disputes.

flcath
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby flcath » Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:08 am

Desert Fox wrote:
Geon wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I want to know how going solo out of law isn't malpractice? There is no way you can be a competent lawyer with no experience. At the very tail end of 2L I'm hesitant to do pro se in a traffic court. Never mind charging someone.


REALLY, are you sure you are in law school? Maybe they haven't gotten to the practical part for you yet.
I have represented myself numerous times in court and won all of them, I have prosecuted my own case in superior court, so it makes me scratch my head when you make such a comment.

If you pass the bar you should be a competent lawyer.


There is no practical part. What school did you go to that had a practical part.

I don't even know how to plead a case in my own state court because my civ pro doesn't teach it. Isn't the bar pretty generic shit? Does studying for 2 months really qualify you to practice. Seems sketchy as fuck to me.

Isn't there some kind of "trial advocacy" part coming up. I haven't taken it yet; I've always assumed that's the part where they tell you how to do lawyering.

Geon
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Re: Sole practitioner salary

Postby Geon » Sun Apr 08, 2012 4:10 am

Veyron wrote:
Out of curoisty. In Canada , poor people are given legal aid certificates if they cannot pay for a lawyer. These certificates are basically used at any lawyer's office and if the lawyer accept the client he can cash in the certificate for money. Does US have a similar system or is it something different?


Indignant clients are either assigned a public defender or the court will allow a private attorney to pick up the case for a court awarded fee. Depends on the jurisdiction or the caseload of the PD's office. If you don't like the lawyer you are initially assigned you can typically get assigned another. This only applies to criminal cases. There is no national right to a lawyer in civil cases although some jurisdictions do provide the poor with lawyers to handle some types of civil disputes.


No I was just wondering because a lawyer in Canada can still make decent money from taking legal aid clients. You won't get rich after all your expenses, but if you have the criminal clients you can make good $. Just wondering if America has this. What jurisidiction do not have a public defender and assign you a private lawyer for a court awarded fee, where can I find more info on the states that do it?




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