Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

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djg2111
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Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby djg2111 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:34 pm

I haven't been on this site in a long time, and I figured I would see if I can help anyone from the next generation of law graduates. I struck out at OCI (several times), but managed to build a modest practice for myself and leverage it into a position with a firm after about a year. I didn't have a single callback interview through the formal programs, but I have been on several callbacks over the past year.

My grades were strong at a first tier school, but honestly, that didn't end up mattering much. I practice IP - mainly patent law. I'll be happy to answer questions, if I can.

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gguuueessttt
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby gguuueessttt » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:37 pm

Why do you think you struck out at OCI as someone with good grades at a top tier school?

User has been outed since this did not need to be anonymous and user is a 0L (which is fine to ask questions in this thread, but have a shorter leash than current law students).

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gguuueessttt
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby gguuueessttt » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:40 pm

I didn't even mean to post anonymously sorry. I was just curious. Didn't mean to imply I'm not a 0L.

ETA: Did you notice whether many of your classmates with similar grades also struck out at OCI? Anything you regret or would have done differently?
Last edited by gguuueessttt on Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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bk1
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby bk1 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:42 pm

gguuueessttt wrote:I didn't even mean to post anonymously sorry. I was just curious, didn't mean to imply I'm not a 0L.


No problem. Didn't mean to be harsh, it's just hard for us to tell whether people are abusing anon or just misclicked.

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gguuueessttt
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby gguuueessttt » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:45 pm

bk1 wrote:
gguuueessttt wrote:I didn't even mean to post anonymously sorry. I was just curious, didn't mean to imply I'm not a 0L.


No problem. Didn't mean to be harsh, it's just hard for us to tell whether people are abusing anon or just misclicked.


Yeah no worries I figured as much.

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BruceWayne
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby BruceWayne » Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:48 pm

OP MANY congrasts! What do you mean by "built a practice"? How could you do this as a fresh JD with no clients no resources no nothing?

SHANbangs
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby SHANbangs » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:07 pm

What is the rationale behind "anon abuse"? I mean, I get it if people are posting that would be of value to others, and it would be helpful if they didn't anon so that others could contact them. But shouldn't anon really be up to the discretion of posters? If this person is offering valuable information, why do I care if they are anon or not?

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NoleinNY
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby NoleinNY » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:11 pm

BruceWayne wrote:OP MANY congrasts! What do you mean by "built a practice"? How could you do this as a fresh JD with no clients no resources no nothing?

Tagging.

djg2111
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby djg2111 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:14 pm

There were a number of factors that hurt my job prospects. My grades improves substantially after my first year of law school, so my 1L grades were average, but I graduated magna. I also transferred after my 1L year to a parallel school for family reasons (slightly lower ranked). I graduated 2011, so it wasn't the best year for law grads, and I had the wrong engineering degree (I am an ME, and everyone wants EE).

Since graduation, I gathered my clients in various ways. My biggest client is a company that hired me as an intern during 3L year, but I gathered my clients through various avenues. I have a huge amount to say about that, but to start:

1. Make sure you do whatever you can in school to be comfortable working directly with clients afterwards. I learned a huge amount in my schools clinic and in various clinic style classes.
2. Consider every opportunity. Anything can turn into a substantial client.
3. Accept the fact that you will not be able to bill for many of the hours you work.
4. Get insured.
5. Always be professional.

Between my various activities over the past year, I earned more than enough to support myself and my wife, so I consider it a viable practice.

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bk1
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby bk1 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:54 pm

SHANbangs wrote:What is the rationale behind "anon abuse"? I mean, I get it if people are posting that would be of value to others, and it would be helpful if they didn't anon so that others could contact them. But shouldn't anon really be up to the discretion of posters? If this person is offering valuable information, why do I care if they are anon or not?


Reminder: this sort of question should be in the mod Q&A thread here viewtopic.php?f=10&t=146657

Try to keep any further posts ITT on topic to OP.

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ggocat
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby ggocat » Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:51 pm

What did your employer like about you (graded, experience, clients, etc.)? Did you bring business to the employer?

What did the employer offer you that was better than your practice?

I guess I'm getting at this question: why would you quit your practice if it was successful enough to get you another job?

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okinawa
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby okinawa » Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:52 pm

.
Last edited by okinawa on Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby Lawquacious » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:11 pm

Kind of curious why you didn't just stick with the practice you started. I for one would be much more interested in running a successful solo practice than working in biglaw given those two options. I think it's great you used it to leverage a biglaw position, especially if that was always your goal, but starting your own practice successfully seems like it could have led to even greater success than biglaw typically leads to, without all of the same corporate misery (including working up the ranks--and in most cases not making partner).

djg2111
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby djg2111 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:31 pm

I'm not working in biglaw, and I turned down a couple of midsize firms to work with a small firm. I needed a mentor, and I wanted a steady workflow and a salary. At the same time, I wanted a chance to grow my own practice while getting some guidance from people with more experience than I had.

I was also getting some matters I couldn't handle without guidance (international work, litigation), so I wanted a home base. Having a name and website you don't have to maintain is a good thing too.

If you are interested in nurturing a practice from the ground up, then that's great, but there are a ton of downsides that you should be aware of (beyond having to get the clients, that is).

If you build a stable of clients and go to biglaw, you are likely to land on a partner track, btw. It's the skills that allow you to climb in biglaw (assuming thatss what you want to do), and not the starting point.

I had a few different types of offers. I was looking for a good base salary with origination bonuses. I told a lot of firms what I was looking for, and I ended up in talks with ~5 of them.

For capital, I had an internship and I worked from the office there, I paid for insurance out of pocket (~2.5K) and I did a lot of work from my apartment. I met clients at bars and coffee shops to explain what I can offer, and once they saw the benefits of next to no overhead, I held meetings in my apartment.

djg2111
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby djg2111 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:32 pm

And I didn't quit my practice. Each of my clients is transitioning into my firm with me. I was fortunate to find a good deal just before needing an assistant and a docketing system.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby Lawquacious » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:36 pm

djg2111 wrote:I'm not working in biglaw, and I turned down a couple of midsize firms to work with a small firm. I needed a mentor, and I wanted a steady workflow and a salary. At the same time, I wanted a chance to grow my own practice while getting some guidance from people with more experience than I had.

I was also getting some matters I couldn't handle without guidance (international work, litigation), so I wanted a home base. Having a name and website you don't have to maintain is a good thing too.

If you are interested in nurturing a practice from the ground up, then that's great, but there are a ton of downsides that you should be aware of (beyond having to get the clients, that is).

If you build a stable of clients and go to biglaw, you are likely to land on a partner track, btw. It's the skills that allow you to climb in biglaw (assuming thatss what you want to do), and not the starting point.

I had a few different types of offers. I was looking for a good base salary with origination bonuses. I told a lot of firms what I was looking for, and I ended up in talks with ~5 of them.

For capital, I had an internship and I worked from the office there, I paid for insurance out of pocket (~2.5K) and I did a lot of work from my apartment. I met clients at bars and coffee shops to explain what I can offer, and once they saw the benefits of next to no overhead, I held meetings in my apartment.



Thanks--makes sense, well-done, and good luck. Yeah, the mentorship thing seems pretty critical.

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FlanAl
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby FlanAl » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:52 pm

Do you think that people outside of IP could have the same success that you did?

djg2111
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby djg2111 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:02 pm

Any niche field can do it, I think. I do a lot of research before meeting any client for the first time, so if I had to do that in different fields, it would be impossible. If you specialize in a relatively narrow area that you can know well, you can do it. It also makes clients a lot more comfortable if you can speak to work you've done in a specific field.

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arhmcpo
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby arhmcpo » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:12 pm

Congratulations on all your success so far and likely future successes.

I was wondering whether you had an opinion on: what fields of law/types of work have a reputation for requiring greater startup capital and a greater risk of malpractice? It seems to me those are two of the major deterrent factors in addition to getting your own clients. Certainly you could speak to IP but curious if you had opinions on other fields as well.

djg2111
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby djg2111 » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:18 pm

people kept telling me that IP is one of the worse fields in both of those areas. My malpractice cost 2.5K instead of ~700 that my friends were paying, and IP has huge costs for docketing software (which I was doing manually). The best way to assess risks may be to check in with the insurance companies and see what their actuarial tables say.

truevines
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby truevines » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:20 am

djg2111 wrote:people kept telling me that IP is one of the worse fields in both of those areas. My malpractice cost 2.5K instead of ~700 that my friends were paying, and IP has huge costs for docketing software (which I was doing manually). The best way to assess risks may be to check in with the insurance companies and see what their actuarial tables say.


May I ask what type of patent law you're practicing? Patent prosecution, prior art search services, any infringement/invalidity consulting services? Did you pass the patent bar already?

Thanks for sharing the experience.

djg2111
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby djg2111 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:12 pm

I sat for the patent bar during my 2L year, and for my own practice I was doing whatever came in my door. A lot of prosecution, some consulting for infringement, invalidity, patentability, etc., some litigation (for which I engaged a third party firm to work with). Also, a good amount of TM (which is a good place to get some low leverage and low cost litigation experience) and assorted other work (some licensing, etc.).

Sitting for the patent bar is a good idea, if you want to be able to work on your own (and you are an engineer), but beware of insurance premiums and the boundaries of allowable legal work for an agent.

djg2111
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Re: Graduate who built a practice and leveraged into a job

Postby djg2111 » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:25 pm

I'm getting a lot of similar questions in private messages, so this response I just sent out may help:

If you can fund yourself for a few months, then you can control your own practice. I know nothing about your drive / abilities / people skills / professionalism, but "near impossible because I have the wrong degree" is about getting a job - not doing the work. My degree is in ME, but my internship that got me my first major client is in finance. An engineering degree means you can demonstrate the attention to detail, understanding of technical matters, how inventors think, and talk the talk.

Tech attorneys get more comfortable when you can answer engineering riddles and tell engineering jokes. We are all nerds, at heart. I was asked in an interview (that got me an offer) what would happen if you leave a refrigerator open in a perfectly insulated room.

If you haven't started law school yet, then don't assume the degree will get you a job. I would go for a second degree in EE - that's what I'm doing now. You can also become a patent agent and look for a firm willing to put you through law school. If you are in law school, look for opportunities to demonstrate and develop your skills as an intern. Also, take any and all IP classes and clinical classes you can. My 3L year, all of my classes except 1 were IP, including an IP clinic and 3 other "skills" classes. I was also an intern for a fin-tech company at the time. Build relationships with professors - they can help you more than you know. Sit for the patent bar, and start telling friends, family, acquaintances that you are going to be a patent attorney.

If you graduated already, get your name out there, apply to everyone who might be looking, and make sure you do legal work if at all possible. Trademark is low cost / low leverage, and may be easier to get, and you can still call yourself an IP attorney. If you have the drive / energy / time, register and take classes towards an EE degree. Being able to put "pursuing a degree" on your resume makes a bigger difference than it should. Remember that it is much more important to keep doing legal work though.

Band together with friends with different skills, and you can leverage each others acquaintances to find work. I passed along contract work that I couldn't do to a colleague, and that colleague passed back some patent work.

In terms of the various fields, engineers don't have a huge advantage in litigation and you can't do it without engaging a third party firm. It gets very expensive very fast, and its very hard to keep small clients happy when costs explode. Trademark won't sharpen your patent skills, but it will help you develop useful skills that may bring work from unexpected places. The first couple of clients are the hardest, because clients are much more comfortable if you act like you have seen it before.

There are a number of good books to look at for starting your own practice. Foonberg's "How to Start and Build a Law Practice" and Fox's "U.S. Patent Opinions and Evaluations" both get a lot of use on my shelf.




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