Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

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r6_philly

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Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:13 am

Almost 2 years in NYC biglaw doing IP/Lit. Left earlier this year to start a solo practice (hopefully will have an associate by end of the year), focusing on tech/ip/startup/lit, but taking anything I find interesting (and most of them are). Big step, some challenges, but enjoying the heck out of the decision. I enjoyed my former firm. I have issues with biglaw structure in generally, but I did not hate it. Rather, I decided it was time to pursue what I want out of my life and career.

I am not going anonymous because I am going to keep a blog about this too. (TechInLaw.com)

Ask me anything.
Last edited by r6_philly on Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

lurklaw

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby lurklaw » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:29 am

How much $$ have you made?

r6_philly

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:33 am

lurklaw wrote:How much $$ have you made?


Depends on how you count. I took some cases on contingency. I am on track to make half of my biglaw salary if you count the realized revenues. I will make way more if the contingencies pans out. They are good contingency cases, I am fairly selective with whether I take something on contingency.

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby Abbie Doobie » Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:56 am

how did u go about finding tech/startup clients?

Hutz_and_Goodman

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Tue Jul 26, 2016 8:49 am

Congrats on this bold decision

The fact that you are doing this is great

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pancakes3

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 8:52 am

Abbie Doobie wrote:how did u go about finding tech/startup clients?


+

Did you have to relocate? Take a new bar?

What were the startup costs like?

Did you think about partnering up, or is solo the best way?

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby yogotti » Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:13 am

I am interested to know if you had some clients that you knew would go with you. Did you go out there just planning to drum up business, and if so, how did you drum up your business?

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby wannabee » Tue Jul 26, 2016 10:57 am

Thanks for doing this.

1) Would you mind telling us what region you are in/if you stayed in NYC? If you left, how did you decide where to go?

2) What would you do in hindsight if you were to do it again (preparatory steps, etc.)?

3) How much savings would you recommend/do you need to launch a solo office properly?

4) Do you advertise? Why/why not?

5) Did you find your biglaw experience to be helpful to what you do now?

6) Apart from the previous question, do client's care whether you came from biglaw/what you did there/your experience level, etc.?

7) Who would you say is your core client base and how do you get in front of them?

8 ) What do you think separates people like you (who are successful launching a solo practice) vs. those who are not successful?

9) When is the best time to go solo/leave biglaw for solo practice?

10) Why did you decide to leave and was there a catalyst that made you take the leap?

11) How did you decide on your hourly rate and how do clients react to it?
Last edited by wannabee on Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

r6_philly

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:04 am

Hutz_and_Goodman wrote:Congrats on this bold decision

The fact that you are doing this is great


Thank you! It was bold, not unheard of, but bold. I have a few things working for me, which made the move a bit easier.

I've always enjoyed these type of threads as a law student and associate, glad to be here to answer some questions on an unusual topic.

r6_philly

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:25 am

I am going to consolidate

1) Would you mind telling us what region you are in/if you stayed in NYC? If you left, how did you decide where to go?

I am from Philly so I am back in Philly. I have a couple of matters in NYC still, I am actively thinking about expanding in NYC. But NYC is competitive, too many lawyers... I am somewhat of a commodity here in Philly as a solo.

2) What would you do in hindsight if you were to do it again (preparatory steps, etc.)?

Spend more time getting to know more people in school. We had kids, one was born while I was in law school, so it was a bit hard to meet people. I did a decent amount of networking while I was at the firm, but time is limited, and also hard to network in Philly from NYC.

3) How much savings would you recommend/do you need to launch a solo office properly?

A year of living expenses. I didn't quite have that much, which makes me more nervous than needed. Having a bigger cushion definitely helps calm your nerves. But then again I work better under pressure...

4) Do you advertise? Why/why not?

I am very good at marketing due to what I did before law school. I advertise to my different streams differently:

4)(a) how do you get tech clients:
I took an office space in a co-working space full of startup/independent developers. It took a while to get noticed, but it is now slowly starting to generate returns. Also a private office in a co-working space (which is very modern and good amenitities) is much more money for the buck, it looks pretty great to my non-tech clients.

4)(b) I speak a foreign language, so I advertise in a foreign language news paper. I have a quarter to half page ad in it. It generates (based on my anecdotal knowledge) above average leads. It took a couple of months for people to trust a new ad, but now that it's running for 4 months, the volume has been decent.

5) Did you find your biglaw experience to be helpful to what you do now?

Yes, I was trained to do everything right. It is a certain level of professionalism that my non-biglaw friends don't know or appreciate. And in turn my client knows the difference between me and another solo. That allows me to charge much more (not everyone pays but I don't budge).

6) Apart from the previous question, do client's care whether you came from biglaw/what you did there/your experience level, etc.?

Yes and no. Smaller matters, things of personal nature, people don't really care. They probably care more about where I went to school. Business and more sophisticated matters yes. First, ex biglaw attorneys generally understand how corporations work. So when a potential client chat you up on general corporate matters/issues you are not out of your element. Second, people with high value work do really appreciate and understand the biglaw quality, and they appreciate getting it at a lower rate because of my low overhead.

I have a potential client right now who told me they went to a few small firms before me, but I stand out because of my school and biglaw experience and they are more comfortable with me understanding their business.

7) Who would you say is your core client base and how do you get in front of them?

Small business and startups. I do free workshops, I own a meetup group, I reach out to different non-profits. Get to know people, let them know what I do and they will understand why I am more suited to help them with their business related issues than any other solo lawyer they know.

8 ) What do you think separates people like you (who are successful launching a solo practice) vs. those who are not successful?

Don't call me a success yet, I am just starting. But I have successfully (and unsuccessfully) ran startups and small businesses before. There is a much lower hurdle of entry for me to enter solo practice, and I also understand my clients perfectly well (because I was one of them before law school).

9) When is the best time to go solo/leave biglaw for solo practice?

When you are ready? :) There is usually a skill gap between junior and mid and senior associate. I was already communicating with opposing counsel and managing some discovery tasks when I left. I felt that I would not get much different experience for the next few years, so why grind it out. The money is what's hard to give up, but if I did what I think I could do, I can make similar level of money without grinding so hard. As I just came in today at 10:30 wearing shorts and a polo (no client meeting today), I think I made the right choice.

10) Why did you decide to leave and was there a catalyst that made you take the leap?

See all the above. But at the core, I really wanted to do more in my client service. I think it would be satisfying for a biglaw partner or senior associate to avert a disaster for a large client, it really would be cool, but I was nowhere near that. At the same time, I start to come across smaller potential clients I could help but not as a biglaw associate. I wanted to accomplish more, and I know I had what it takes to generate business.

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PeanutsNJam

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby PeanutsNJam » Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:44 am

What law school did you go to? (a rank range is ok, but the more specific the better. I'm guessing HYS or Penn?)

Do non-institutional clients care about your grades/honors/journal stuff?
Last edited by PeanutsNJam on Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby JenDarby » Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:45 am

Wow, congrats and good luck moving forward r6!

r6_philly

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:11 pm

PeanutsNJam wrote:What law school did you go to? (a rank range is ok, but the more specific the better. I'm guessing HYS or Penn?)

Do non-institutional clients care about your grades/honors/journal stuff?


Penn. It carries weight here. I went to an alum event recently and actually met a few Penn alum solos. We are out here.

No one would dare to ask me about grades!!! Of course by implication I was top of my class!!! Haha, joking aside, the seal on my diploma is enough. I don't think anyone, institutional or otherwise, care about grades/honors/journal, because I am running the firm. To be honest, I will care when I hire, not to the extent that biglaw firms would, because I want to evaluate the person, but those are indicators.

r6_philly

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:11 pm

JenDarby wrote:Wow, congrats and good luck moving forward r6!


Thanks!!! Long time coming, I am blessed.

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:17 pm

pancakes3 wrote:Take a new bar?

What were the startup costs like?

Did you think about partnering up, or is solo the best way?


I took time off to take the PA bar in Feb after starting at the firm.

I think for me, solo is the better way (I am not sure what is the best way). I talked to small firms, and I think if I had a 250k-300k book I can be a partner. But my thought process is if I had 250k book why don't I just service it. You partner with people to get leads, to make startup easier, and to share admin burdens. I didn't really have problem with those things, so it didn't make sense to me. But for others it is very valuable.

Startup costs:
Office - a private office in a coworking space
Advertising
Technology
Materials
Supplies
I got a business credit card with 10k and it covered all of the above. But notably I am a tech guy so software/website/management system/technology costed very little. Most other solos would have to pay for that for sure.

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:24 pm

Was getting ready to flame b/c as a junior associate I generally do not believe a second year is capable of litigating a complex matter appropriately. Your pre-law-school experience was probably very valuable.

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby GreenEggs » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:30 pm

You mention getting "average volume" from different ads. What does this actually mean in numbers? That an ad in a foreign newspaper is getting you a lot of calls/e-mails, how much of that converts into paying clients? How many clients do you have at any one point in time?

Thank you for doing this!
Last edited by GreenEggs on Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

r6_philly

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:38 pm

tyroneslothrop1 wrote:Was getting ready to flame b/c as a junior associate I generally do not believe a second year is capable of litigating a complex matter appropriately. Your pre-law-school experience was probably very valuable.


Without support, perhaps it is difficult. First there are always other solos who can cocounsel things if needed. second, considering for a complex matter the pre-trial phase may last years, one wouldn't be a second year by the time it gets to trial. I get to learn so much more from so many more people out in practice by myself. And there is no billable hours standing in the way of learning how to litigate properly. Don't forget most solos don't even have 2 years in biglaw.

r6_philly

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:43 pm

DCfilterDC wrote:You mention getting "average volume" from different ads. What does this actually mean in numbers? That an ad in a foreign newspaper is getting you a lot of calls/e-mails, how much of that converts into paying clients? How many clients do you have at any one point in time?

Thank you for doing this!


0-10 calls a week, 10% conversion. Of course I could probably raise that to 50% if I charged less or took everything that came. I probably should just to refer, been considering that. I am up to about 10 active clients.

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby tyroneslothrop1 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:46 pm

r6_philly wrote:
tyroneslothrop1 wrote:Was getting ready to flame b/c as a junior associate I generally do not believe a second year is capable of litigating a complex matter appropriately. Your pre-law-school experience was probably very valuable.


Without support, perhaps it is difficult. First there are always other solos who can cocounsel things if needed. second, considering for a complex matter the pre-trial phase may last years, one wouldn't be a second year by the time it gets to trial. I get to learn so much more from so many more people out in practice by myself. And there is no billable hours standing in the way of learning how to litigate properly. Don't forget most solos don't even have 2 years in biglaw.


Yeah and I would never let them handle a matter that was important to me.

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby 1styearlateral » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:57 pm

I'm a junior in NYC from Philly as well; definitely jealous that you've taken the plunge into areas I want to work in.

r6_philly

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:59 pm

tyroneslothrop1 wrote:
r6_philly wrote:
tyroneslothrop1 wrote:Was getting ready to flame b/c as a junior associate I generally do not believe a second year is capable of litigating a complex matter appropriately. Your pre-law-school experience was probably very valuable.


Without support, perhaps it is difficult. First there are always other solos who can cocounsel things if needed. second, considering for a complex matter the pre-trial phase may last years, one wouldn't be a second year by the time it gets to trial. I get to learn so much more from so many more people out in practice by myself. And there is no billable hours standing in the way of learning how to litigate properly. Don't forget most solos don't even have 2 years in biglaw.


Yeah and I would never let them handle a matter that was important to me.


If a matter is larger than a solo matter I will bring in cocounsel. Interesting you brought this up, I think what I offer my client the most is that I can manage their legal matters to achieve results. So when the claim is large and complex enough I know to bring in other resources.

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:00 pm

1styearlateral wrote:I'm a junior in NYC from Philly as well; definitely jealous that you've taken the plunge into areas I want to work in.


msg me if you have any specific questions. Come and visit and chat if this is something you want to do down the road.

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby yankees12345! » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:11 pm

Congrats on taking the plunge! This is a great thread, thanks for answering questions.

What kind of services, specifically, are you offering your clients? Are you taking on things that you have no prior experience with, and just figuring them out? I'm really curious, would be interested in making a move like this myself in another part of the country...

r6_philly

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Re: Biglaw junior left to start a tech/startup/lit solo, AMA

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:15 pm

yankees12345! wrote:Congrats on taking the plunge! This is a great thread, thanks for answering questions.

What kind of services / practice areas are you offering your clients? I'm really curious, would be interested in making a move like this myself in another part of the country...


Ideally, you build a relationship with the startup by helping with formation. Then through contract reviews and funding. And if you have a relationship they will continue to come to you for GC type of things. Then when disputes arise you can litigate too. I think for most startups the lawyer they need is a outside GC who understands their industry and business.

So I am almost full service. and I really do get all kinds of work.



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