Hanging your own shingles?

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For those considering dropping out, reason(s) for not hanging your own shingles?

Lack of startup capital
28
28%
Lack of entreprenurial know-how
23
23%
Lack of "supposed" prestige in solo practice
3
3%
Area of practice (e.g. M&A) does not lend itself to solo practices
3
3%
Biglaw whore
7
7%
Fear
26
26%
Never considered it before now
2
2%
Other
8
8%
 
Total votes: 100

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presh
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby presh » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:23 pm

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Last edited by presh on Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SuperCerealBrah
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby SuperCerealBrah » Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:39 pm

presh wrote:It seems like the ideal would be to find a current solo getting close to retirement age and apprentice for a few years before taking over. I wonder how hard that is to find.


Yea, I knew somebody that did exactly this. It was an Elder Law firm (basically estate planning) and he is doing very well now.

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tedalbany
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby tedalbany » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:53 pm

Bumping to ask opinions on whether it's better to specialize or be a general practice firm at first?

anon168
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby anon168 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:33 pm

tedalbany wrote:Bumping to ask opinions on whether it's better to specialize or be a general practice firm at first?


Generalist.

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tedalbany
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby tedalbany » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:34 pm

anon168 wrote:
tedalbany wrote:Bumping to ask opinions on whether it's better to specialize or be a general practice firm at first?


Generalist.


Cool, that's my preference. Just saw a bunch of solo advice stuff that recommended specializing.

anon168
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby anon168 » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:38 pm

tedalbany wrote:
anon168 wrote:
tedalbany wrote:Bumping to ask opinions on whether it's better to specialize or be a general practice firm at first?


Generalist.


Cool, that's my preference. Just saw a bunch of solo advice stuff that recommended specializing.


I think it's always smart to start off as a generalist.

At some point, you will and probably should specialize in something -- either in a practice area (e.g. employment, or DUI, or trademark) or in a particular type of legal skill (e.g. trial lawyer).

This is true whether you go solo or not.

uvabro
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby uvabro » Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:08 pm

i've started a few businesses, some have made money some haven't. i don't like ones where you're entirely responsible for potentially f'ing someone's entire life before i have experience. also if i wanted to open my own shop outta school there'd be no sense in going to a top 14 or even tier 1 over a full ride anywhere in the state of intended shop.

i don't have the awkwardness. i disagree most on this site have it any more so than other lawyers. it's an awkward field relative to the general populace.

BeenDidThat
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby BeenDidThat » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:30 am

tedalbany wrote:
anon168 wrote:
tedalbany wrote:Bumping to ask opinions on whether it's better to specialize or be a general practice firm at first?


Generalist.


Cool, that's my preference. Just saw a bunch of solo advice stuff that recommended specializing.


Don't do any kind of work that comes in the door. Do the kind of work that has the least chance of biting you in the ass. Crim defense, divorces with small c.p. estates, that kind of thing. You're less likely to run into malpractice issues if you stick with those and other 'basic' practice areas, because: (1) they don't take a whole lot of legal research to get right; and (2) your clients would likely have less success suing you for malpractice in these areas if you do make a mistake (hard to prove your mistake had a material effect on the outcome of the client's matter).

You're not quite a beggar, so you can be a bit of a chooser, but you can't be really picky, either.

usfvictor
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby usfvictor » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:09 pm

kalvano wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
kalvano wrote:I think it's funny you guys worry abou getting clients. That, there is no shortage of. A regular Joe who needs a lawyer doesn't even know what Baker Botts or Akin Gump is. Those firms never even enter their minds.

I worked for a medium size firm this summer, and my dad is a solo. Clients are everywhere. It's the ability to know what to do and how to do it that a new solo should be worried about.

Clients are everywhere. Clients that have decent cases and who aren't unreasonable/crazy and who actually have money to pay you are a little bit harder to find.



True. But there's still not a shortage of them.



+1. As someone who knows a couple of people that have been arrested for DUI(luckily never happened to me*knock on wood*) they didn't look for Greenberg Traurig to represent them lol. They ended up choosing an attorney that had been passed by word of mouth and charged them around $2500(with $1000/down, the rest paid in installements).

usfvictor
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby usfvictor » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:11 pm

rouser wrote:I would think family law is the norm for new solos..yellow page divorce ad. curious as to what else you could market towards? DUI's or something?


Google ads

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SuperCerealBrah
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby SuperCerealBrah » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:46 pm

usfvictor wrote:
kalvano wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
kalvano wrote:I think it's funny you guys worry abou getting clients. That, there is no shortage of. A regular Joe who needs a lawyer doesn't even know what Baker Botts or Akin Gump is. Those firms never even enter their minds.

I worked for a medium size firm this summer, and my dad is a solo. Clients are everywhere. It's the ability to know what to do and how to do it that a new solo should be worried about.

Clients are everywhere. Clients that have decent cases and who aren't unreasonable/crazy and who actually have money to pay you are a little bit harder to find.



True. But there's still not a shortage of them.



+1. As someone who knows a couple of people that have been arrested for DUI(luckily never happened to me*knock on wood*) they didn't look for Greenberg Traurig to represent them lol. They ended up choosing an attorney that had been passed by word of mouth and charged them around $2500(with $1000/down, the rest paid in installements).


lol just don't drive drunk bro and you're good.

anon168
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby anon168 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:48 pm

uvabro wrote:i've started a few businesses, some have made money some haven't. i don't like ones where you're entirely responsible for potentially f'ing someone's entire life before i have experience. also if i wanted to open my own shop outta school there'd be no sense in going to a top 14 or even tier 1 over a full ride anywhere in the state of intended shop.

i don't have the awkwardness. i disagree most on this site have it any more so than other lawyers. it's an awkward field relative to the general populace.


As a solo I can't imagine you'd be taking any kind of cases where "you're entirely responsible for potentially f'ing someone's entire life" unless it's criminal defense.

Your typical contract dispute, family law (i.e. divorce, custody), DUI, tax, etc., are not life-altering events.

Even at biglaw, very few cases are life altering cases from a personal standpoint -- "bet-the-company" does not mean "bet-the-life".

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:55 pm

anon168 wrote:
uvabro wrote:i've started a few businesses, some have made money some haven't. i don't like ones where you're entirely responsible for potentially f'ing someone's entire life before i have experience. also if i wanted to open my own shop outta school there'd be no sense in going to a top 14 or even tier 1 over a full ride anywhere in the state of intended shop.

i don't have the awkwardness. i disagree most on this site have it any more so than other lawyers. it's an awkward field relative to the general populace.


As a solo I can't imagine you'd be taking any kind of cases where "you're entirely responsible for potentially f'ing someone's entire life" unless it's criminal defense.

Your typical contract dispute, family law (i.e. divorce, custody), DUI, tax, etc., are not life-altering events.

Even at biglaw, very few cases are life altering cases from a personal standpoint -- "bet-the-company" does not mean "bet-the-life".

I don't know, if you're the one getting screwed over in a divorce or not getting custody, I bet it feels like a life-altering event. Admittedly you're not going to be put in jail, but it's still a big deal. (Pragmatically speaking, family law is the most likely to result in malpractice allegations, too.)

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kalvano
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby kalvano » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:03 pm

Criminal cases and family law cases, the two things most solos will get the most of, can definitely thoroughly fuck someone over good and proper.

Gorki
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby Gorki » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:11 pm

anon168 wrote:
uvabro wrote:i've started a few businesses, some have made money some haven't. i don't like ones where you're entirely responsible for potentially f'ing someone's entire life before i have experience. also if i wanted to open my own shop outta school there'd be no sense in going to a top 14 or even tier 1 over a full ride anywhere in the state of intended shop.

i don't have the awkwardness. i disagree most on this site have it any more so than other lawyers. it's an awkward field relative to the general populace.


As a solo I can't imagine you'd be taking any kind of cases where "you're entirely responsible for potentially f'ing someone's entire life" unless it's criminal defense.

Your typical contract dispute, family law (i.e. divorce, custody), DUI, tax, etc., are not life-altering events.

Even at biglaw, very few cases are life altering cases from a personal standpoint -- "bet-the-company" does not mean "bet-the-life".


Relatively speaking I guess. The guy who never gets to see his kids again is not being put to death, or life in a cell, but that is life altering IMO. Someone whose personal and business reputation is screwed up because of tax issues would probably consider it life-altering too. Even a DUI is life-altering for your typical client. Many of them are not well-off, and the DUI will be a serious strike against them in seeking employment for the next 3-5+ years.

BeenDidThat
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby BeenDidThat » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:22 pm

kalvano wrote:Criminal cases and family law cases, the two things most solos will get the most of, can definitely thoroughly fuck someone over good and proper.


But they're harder to fuck up.

If you can read, you understand the adversarial nature of the system, and you aren't full of yourself, you should be able to represent clients in misdemeanors & simple divorces (not a biz owner, few assets, no creative pay structures at place of employment), but you'd better bust your ass to learn the local rules (both official & unofficial) before you go in head first.

johndhi
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby johndhi » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:47 pm

anon168: out of curiosity, why have you never gone solo? Are you considering it?

I have a law school friend who did it and I'm meeting with him later this week, thanks to this thread. Really interesting idea to me. For me, biglaw is a much safer way to pay off my loans.

anon168
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby anon168 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:03 am

johndhi wrote:anon168: out of curiosity, why have you never gone solo? Are you considering it?



I enjoy the practice of law, not the business of law.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:35 am

The biggest obstacle to hanging your own shingle is that Law School does not teach you how to actually practice law. It teaches legal research, some elementary pleading skills, little more.

If you hang your own shingle, do not fear actually calling the court's own clerk and asking what the judge expects.

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kalvano
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby kalvano » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:02 am

NotMyRealName09 wrote:If you hang your own shingle, do not fear actually calling the court's own clerk and asking what the judge expects.



Pretty much every clerk I've ever met would love you forever if you did this, solo or not. Unless the judge's preferences are well known, it's so much easier on them.

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tedalbany
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby tedalbany » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:03 am

kalvano wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:If you hang your own shingle, do not fear actually calling the court's own clerk and asking what the judge expects.



Pretty much every clerk I've ever met would love you forever if you did this, solo or not. Unless the judge's preferences are well known, it's so much easier on them.


Don't most Judges' websites list their preferences?

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kalvano
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby kalvano » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:06 am

tedalbany wrote:
kalvano wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:If you hang your own shingle, do not fear actually calling the court's own clerk and asking what the judge expects.



Pretty much every clerk I've ever met would love you forever if you did this, solo or not. Unless the judge's preferences are well known, it's so much easier on them.


Don't most Judges' websites list their preferences?


Not at the state level. I'm not even sure most judges here know they have a website.

But if it does, no big deal. If it doesn't, then call and ask. I've yet to meet a clerk that will be yell at you for trying to make their life easier.

Myself
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.

Postby Myself » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:34 am

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Last edited by Myself on Wed Nov 20, 2013 2:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

anon168
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby anon168 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:28 am

kalvano wrote:
tedalbany wrote:
kalvano wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:If you hang your own shingle, do not fear actually calling the court's own clerk and asking what the judge expects.



Pretty much every clerk I've ever met would love you forever if you did this, solo or not. Unless the judge's preferences are well known, it's so much easier on them.


Don't most Judges' websites list their preferences?


Not at the state level. I'm not even sure most judges here know they have a website.

But if it does, no big deal. If it doesn't, then call and ask. I've yet to meet a clerk that will be yell at you for trying to make their life easier.


Call? Good luck getting a clerk to answer his/her phone (esp. state court clerks, fed crd are better). Just e-mail.

Judges now they have websites, don't be silly.

The reason to contact the CRD is to get the "local" local rules.

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kalvano
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Re: Hanging your own shingles?

Postby kalvano » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:40 am

You've not practiced in Texas, have you? It's easier to get a clerk on the phone than it is to get an email response, and half the judges think the Internet is a terrorist conspiracy.




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