Hanging Your Own Shingle

(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.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273479
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:53 pm

Anyone have experience with this or work closely with someone who did? What are the most effective ways to get clients off the bat (besides, of course, chasing ambulances) and what are reasonable income expectations? I go to a TT school and am in my late 30s, above median after my first year, and know that my employment prospects are grim in my city. Personally, I am tired of working underneath people, and would love to hang my own shingle after law school as a solo practitioner, but was hoping to get some insight from people in the TLS community.

User avatar
dowu
Posts: 8334
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:47 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby dowu » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have experience with this or work closely with someone who did? What are the most effective ways to get clients off the bat (besides, of course, chasing ambulances) and what are reasonable income expectations? I go to a TT school and am in my late 30s, above median after my first year, and know that my employment prospects are grim in my city. Personally, I am tired of working underneath people, and would love to hang my own shingle after law school as a solo practitioner, but was hoping to get some insight from people in the TLS community.


Its a really tough tough thing to do. Hopefully you're not in too much debt coming out, because there will be costs trying to do what you want to do.

User avatar
AreJay711
Posts: 3406
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby AreJay711 » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:30 pm

Actually the legal aspects probably probably aren't that hard. It is everything else that is the challenge: how to file shit at the courthouse, your lack of tried and true forms where all you have to do is change names, negotiating with other attorneys, empaneling a jury, and lack of all the shit that is really simple but nowhere on the internet or Westlaw/Lexis.

rad lulz
Posts: 9844
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:53 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby rad lulz » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:43 pm

AreJay711 wrote:Actually the legal aspects probably probably aren't that hard. It is everything else that is the challenge: how to file shit at the courthouse, your lack of tried and true forms where all you have to do is change names, negotiating with other attorneys, empaneling a jury, and lack of all the shit that is really simple but nowhere on the internet or Westlaw/Lexis.

Also Westlaw/Lexis is expensive. Hope your city has a law library.

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

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby fatduck » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:44 pm

AreJay711 wrote:Actually the legal aspects probably probably aren't that hard. It is everything else that is the challenge: how to file shit at the courthouse, your lack of tried and true forms where all you have to do is change names, negotiating with other attorneys, empaneling a jury, and lack of all the shit that is really simple but nowhere on the internet or Westlaw/Lexis.

nah bro, just give it your best shot and the judge will tell you what to do. your first few clients will be completely fucked but you'll pick it up soon enough.

/pynchon'd

User avatar
eandy
Posts: 2725
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:07 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby eandy » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have experience with this or work closely with someone who did? What are the most effective ways to get clients off the bat (besides, of course, chasing ambulances) and what are reasonable income expectations? I go to a TT school and am in my late 30s, above median after my first year, and know that my employment prospects are grim in my city. Personally, I am tired of working underneath people, and would love to hang my own shingle after law school as a solo practitioner, but was hoping to get some insight from people in the TLS community.

You'll want to work in a small firm after 2L where you think that you can find someone to mentor you. You are going to realize you have no idea what you are doing and need help. Also, have fun with malpractice/professional liability insurance--you're going to need it.

User avatar
Mick Haller
Posts: 1258
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:24 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby Mick Haller » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:00 pm

you can do it, but you won't make much money at first. under 30k is probably a reasonable estimate for the first year.

the above posters are correct, there are many nitpicking local court rules, forms, etc. that you have to learn. you can pick most of that up with several months' experience. your local court clerks are often very helpful. they sometimes have a window from like 1 pm to 3 pm every day where you can come and ask them questions. it might be embarrassing as an attorney asking questions alongside the pro se folks, but sometimes you have to swallow your pride.

another thing you can do is call the court clerks in an unpopulated town. it's easier out west because you often have these geographically huge counties with almost no population. clerks at these courts have more free time and may be more willing to answer questions.

User avatar
tedalbany
Posts: 1697
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby tedalbany » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:02 pm

eandy wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have experience with this or work closely with someone who did? What are the most effective ways to get clients off the bat (besides, of course, chasing ambulances) and what are reasonable income expectations? I go to a TT school and am in my late 30s, above median after my first year, and know that my employment prospects are grim in my city. Personally, I am tired of working underneath people, and would love to hang my own shingle after law school as a solo practitioner, but was hoping to get some insight from people in the TLS community.

You'll want to work in a small firm after 2L where you think that you can find someone to mentor you. You are going to realize you have no idea what you are doing and need help. Also, have fun with malpractice/professional liability insurance--you're going to need it.


Is this true though? I'd imagine experienced attorneys that run large firms built on paralegal labor are going to be the most likely to commit malpractice. New attorneys are likely more careful with each thing and, while not as profitable, less likely to make a huge mistake. Plus aren't most malpractice suits over missing deadlines/SOL? Again, that's probably more of a mill problem (Foreclosure mill, insurance mill, etc).

nonprofit-prophet
Posts: 844
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:10 am

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:04 pm

I'm spending part of 1L summer working for an insanely successful solo practitioner. He told me that if I ever wanted to start my own shop I should pick plaintiff friendly areas that have elected judges. The judges tend to be more forgiving and less likely to allow defendants (especially out of county/city/state defendants) to prevail on summary judgment motions. He also said he got his start by doing criminal work. In our state, private attorneys can take on defense work for indigents. He said at the time he started, the county paid 50 bucks to plead people out, so everyone would simply tell the poor clients to take the deal. He didn't have much experience, so he decided to try all the cases to get experience. He discovered that each win was 350 bucks, so he started doing a lot of this work and became pretty successful. from there he developed a reputation for getting people out of prison sentences, so he built his practice off that.

After that he looked for niches to develop. Most local attorneys were doing personal injury work, very few were doing property cases. He started suing homeowners insurance companies for breaching contracts and got a good reputation in the area.

TL;DR: success can be dictated by where you live. Find a plaintiff friendly jurisdiction and look for undervalued practice areas.

User avatar
Mick Haller
Posts: 1258
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:24 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby Mick Haller » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:09 pm

Yeah I am not sure how big of a risk malpractice really is... I think insurance will be around $5,000-7,000 per year, maybe less if you take a higher deductible and lower max payout. Is it really that prevalent though?

lukertin
Posts: 775
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:16 am

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby lukertin » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:09 pm

tedalbany wrote:Is this true though? I'd imagine experienced attorneys that run large firms built on paralegal labor are going to be the most likely to commit malpractice. New attorneys are likely more careful with each thing and, while not as profitable, less likely to make a huge mistake.

That's like saying a family with a bunch of experienced drivers will pay higher car insurance than a 16yr old who just got his license.

AKA You make zero sense.

User avatar
tedalbany
Posts: 1697
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby tedalbany » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:16 pm

lukertin wrote:
tedalbany wrote:Is this true though? I'd imagine experienced attorneys that run large firms built on paralegal labor are going to be the most likely to commit malpractice. New attorneys are likely more careful with each thing and, while not as profitable, less likely to make a huge mistake.

That's like saying a family with a bunch of experienced drivers will pay higher car insurance than a 16yr old who just got his license.

AKA You make zero sense.


I mean you can pull up briefs on westlaw, get legal forms from anywhere online, and the get rules from the court website. All of that and just going through everything carefully, making sure you know the rules of state procedure, and being very careful with all deadlines (and not suing anyone in BK for a previous debt) should theoretically allow you to stay within the realm of non-malpractice.
I've worked in a mill though, and that's where the hazard is. The paralegals do everything then just give bales of paperwork for the attorney's to quickly sign off on without even reading. And shit gets lost, deadlines get missed.

User avatar
skw
Posts: 220
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 6:12 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby skw » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:17 pm

nonprofit-prophet wrote:I'm spending part of 1L summer working for an insanely successful solo practitioner. He told me that if I ever wanted to start my own shop I should pick plaintiff friendly areas that have elected judges. The judges tend to be more forgiving and less likely to allow defendants (especially out of county/city/state defendants) to prevail on summary judgment motions. He also said he got his start by doing criminal work. In our state, private attorneys can take on defense work for indigents. He said at the time he started, the county paid 50 bucks to plead people out, so everyone would simply tell the poor clients to take the deal. He didn't have much experience, so he decided to try all the cases to get experience. He discovered that each win was 350 bucks, so he started doing a lot of this work and became pretty successful. from there he developed a reputation for getting people out of prison sentences, so he built his practice off that.

After that he looked for niches to develop. Most local attorneys were doing personal injury work, very few were doing property cases. He started suing homeowners insurance companies for breaching contracts and got a good reputation in the area.

TL;DR: success can be dictated by where you live. Find a plaintiff friendly jurisdiction and look for undervalued practice areas.

This is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

User avatar
Lawquacious
Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:36 am

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby Lawquacious » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:34 pm

lukertin wrote:
tedalbany wrote:Is this true though? I'd imagine experienced attorneys that run large firms built on paralegal labor are going to be the most likely to commit malpractice. New attorneys are likely more careful with each thing and, while not as profitable, less likely to make a huge mistake.


That's like saying a family with a bunch of experienced drivers will pay higher car insurance than a 16yr old who just got his license.

AKA You make zero sense.


Edit: the analogy may be significantly better than I initially thought, if you assume or know that there are similar--and consistently occurring--actuarial correlation rates for age-to-accident and years-legal-experience-to-malpractice, but I think the assumptions that the analogy requires aren't necessarily immediately evident.

I think really this is an empirical question. Depending on the reference class you chose for comparison, the poster's speculation may hold true (i.e. grads from top schools who go solo relatively quickly in comparison to experienced lawyers at a certain large firms with low-quality ratings). The poster didn't make those distinctions, but obviously not every new attorney who goes solo is in actuality going to have the same likelihood of committing malpractice as every other new solo, and there are also plenty of seasoned attorneys who seem to screw up massively. But in terms of likelihood, I would def agree it doesn't make much sense to think that generally a seasoned atty will be more likely to commit malpractice than a solo right out of law school (by any means).
Last edited by Lawquacious on Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
ggocat
Posts: 1663
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:51 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby ggocat » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:08 pm

/pynchon'd

alwp.

Also to op, may I recommend jdunderground.com?

User avatar
2014
Posts: 5832
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:53 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby 2014 » Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:04 am

I spent a year working for a solo practitioner who grossed 7-11k a month doing mostly real estate and various small transactional stuff. She built her business base by joining a bunch of random committees, attending community business events, and basically any other stereotypical medium sized town stereotypical networking you can think of. She was obnoxiously careful with all details but because of that anything that left the office was quality and clients figure that out. She billed herself at $240 an hour and her assistants at $80 an hour and always had something to work on at that rate, so you can certainly pay the bills if you are a diligent people person.

User avatar
los blancos
Posts: 7119
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:18 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby los blancos » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:55 am

What about getting on a court-appointed list and just doing criminal defense work?

User avatar
sunynp
Posts: 1899
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 2:06 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby sunynp » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:16 am

Mick Haller wrote:Yeah I am not sure how big of a risk malpractice really is... I think insurance will be around $5,000-7,000 per year, maybe less if you take a higher deductible and lower max payout. Is it really that prevalent though?


Malpractice insurance is less expensive when you start because you have fewer claims following you. It doesn't mean you are less likely to fuck up, it means that you haven't had many clients.

New practitioners are likely to face sanctions from pissed off judges who are having their time wasted. They are also likely to be referred for C&F reasons to the bar for malpractice. This is much worse than a malpractice claim. I don't think you can insure against that stuff.

User avatar
sunynp
Posts: 1899
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 2:06 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby sunynp » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:17 am

los blancos wrote:What about getting on a court-appointed list and just doing criminal defense work?


I think you need experience. Believe it or not, a judge doesn't want to give an inexperienced attorney to someone whose liberty is on the line. It makes a mockery of the judicial process.

That said, in both NY and NJ there are specific practice classes and bar committees to help the newly admitted lawyers and the small firm lawyer. They may be of enormous help to you.
Last edited by sunynp on Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

ruski
Posts: 350
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:45 am

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby ruski » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:47 am

sunynp wrote:
los blancos wrote:What about getting on a court-appointed list and just doing criminal defense work?


I think you need experience. Believe it or not, a judge doesn't want to give an inexperienced attorney to someone who's liberty is on the line. It makes a mockery of the judicial process.

That said, in both NY and NJ there are specific practice classes and bar committees to help the newly admitted lawyers and the small firm lawyer. They may be of enormous help to you.


yea it's not easy to get on a court list, but once you're on that list you're gold. i knew an attorney who desperately wanted to get onto the court's list of attorneys for short sales. he said this was pretty easy money but it's really hard to get on the list. after a year or so of calling continuously and whatnot i think he finally got on.

User avatar
Royal
Posts: 115
Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:52 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby Royal » Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:03 am

lukertin wrote:
tedalbany wrote:Is this true though? I'd imagine experienced attorneys that run large firms built on paralegal labor are going to be the most likely to commit malpractice. New attorneys are likely more careful with each thing and, while not as profitable, less likely to make a huge mistake.

That's like saying a family with a bunch of experienced drivers will pay higher car insurance than a 16yr old who just got his license.

AKA You make zero sense.


Actually, you're completely wrong. The "malpractice! hurrrrr!" myth seems to be this constant reply when people ask about going solo. I imagine most posters who say this have no actual knowledge of the cost of legal malpractice insurance but are eager to parrot what they've read from other posters with no knowledge. Malpractice insurance premiums are based on a few things. Newer attorneys often DO pay much less than more experienced attorneys because their clients tend to be smaller and less sophisticated with smaller claims. An IPO gone wrong is going to have much bigger ramifications than Joe Schmoe's attorney blowing a discovery deadline in his $10,000 slip-and-fall. As this alluded to, it's also practice-area specific. Criminal defense, a pretty common solo area, has low malpractice premiums.

I think the biggest challenge, as other posters have said, would be knowing all the functional stuff. For instance, I know how to draft a brief for a MSJ. I know how to draft a complaint. I know how to draft RFAs. I don't know the functional parts -- how do I have things served; what has to be served via process server, what can be served via mail; what are the deadlines for every step in the process; how do I handle discovery disputes; how do I schedule and calendar return dates; etc.

Law school gives you at least some of the "bricks" of practice, but none of the mortar that sticks those bricks together. Working in a big firm won't help either. I think the best idea is to work post graduation in a small (<10) attorney shop where you'll be forced to actually learn all of that. Also, buy practice guides for your state. They can be incredibly helpful. Though expensive, I plan on stocking up on a bunch of state specific practice guides and form libraries before jumping ship to solo.

Selfridge
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:18 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby Selfridge » Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:00 am

--LinkRemoved--

User avatar
Scotusnerd
Posts: 813
Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Hanging Your Own Shingle

Postby Scotusnerd » Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:50 pm

Selfridge wrote:http://hangshingles.wordpress.com/welcome/


He recently got a position as a prosecutor, but it's a great little blog. I love his style.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.