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

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philepistemer

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

Postby philepistemer » Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:
r6_philly wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for doing this!

What type of work do you do for immigrants? Getting Visa type of work? Are there many immigrants in Philly?


No problem, may this thread help anyone who even remotely considered doing this.

I still focus on business related issues for immigrants. A lot of immigrants own small businesses but are painfully unfamiliar with laws and regulations. Individuals too, with personal legal issues, but there are a lot of other lawyers(and non-lawyers) who would do immigration work for a lot less than what I charge. So what happens is I get the top of the pyramid work in the immigrant community. I charge the most, have the best credentials, so people who have the most valuable or urgent issues come to me when they don't think others can handle it to satisfaction.

There are a lot of immigrants here in Philly. I think I have a unique, small niche market, but as far as I know right now I am the only one in this segment.


Thanks for the answers. Can I ask you a follow-up question? You only spent a couple of years at a law firm then how come you can get the "top of the pyramid work" while there are a lot of other, presumably more experienced, lawyers who do immigration work? You didn't even do immigration law at the law firm. I am asking this merely because I don't get it.

Also, why do your clients go to more experienced yet less expensive (than $400) lawyers in town? I am curious to know what type of better/distinctive legal service a solo practice can offer clients by charging $400. I have these questions, because I am very interested in what you are doing and this type of questions haunt me...


It sounds like OP does law for immigrants, not immigration law.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:24 am

philepistemer wrote:
It sounds like OP does law for immigrants, not immigration law.


It does not matter whether OP does law for immigrants or immigration law. My questions still hold true.

r6_philly

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

Postby r6_philly » Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I am already thinking about starting solo practice after working at a law firm for 2-3 years. How important do you think "location" of law school would be to start solo practice?

The thing is that I go to school in Midwest (regional school like Indiana/St. Louis, Notre dam, etc)but I want to practice in LA where my language skill would be best utilized, including other factors. I do not have family ties to CA.

I posted this question in a separate thread but I would truly appreciate your comments. Thanks!



Location matters when people can infer a certain quality from your law school education. So if you went to a local school, you can 1) find that many potential clients are fellow alums 2) people respect your school and think you are offer quality service.

Obviously you are not going to be able to benefit that as much if you are moving to another area. But sounds like CA may have a decent number of alums from your school (grad and ug). But you don't really have a choice. I think as long as your school is well known and respected (like ND, for example), small clients may actually think more of your school than law firm hiring partners who knows about rankings. If your school is good in football/basketball that would help too. Name recognition is all you can hope for.

r6_philly

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

Postby r6_philly » Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
philepistemer wrote:
It sounds like OP does law for immigrants, not immigration law.


It does not matter whether OP does law for immigrants or immigration law. My questions still hold true.


Take my answer strictly from a marketing/client conversion point of view. I am not saying other lawyers lack anything, I am simply stating how clients perceive things.

How can you standout from your competition, and how what do immigrant value?

1. Immigrants care about education. It is the dream of almost every immigrant to send their kids to a good school like an Ivy, because it is the only sure way to American dream. That is reality. So people care where you went to school and where you worked at after school. Yes, maybe I only have a couple of years, but that's a couple years + a diploma (stamp of approval that they themselves covet) that other lawyers don't have.

2. Many lawyers have 10,20,30 y ears experience. That helps and hurts. The guy's been on the block for 20 years, he does everything from dog bites, to traffic tickets, to divorce, to bk, to slip and fall. When you have a $300k commercial dispute, you KNOW that is not what he handles. So his 20 years experience does not come into play. As a matter of fact, that disadvantages him. So if I am only marketing toward commercial disputes, my background and shorter experience is still better than none.

You have to remember, when a lay person see a lawyer, they ask "what kind of law." Most solos will not answer "business law" because they also want the dog bite, slip and fall, traffic etc.

r6_philly

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

Postby r6_philly » Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:27 pm

I don't advertise immigration law, but people do call and ask. And I am too expensive for that kind of work. I do get board appeals and beyond, because most immigration practitioners who are native speakers don't like to go to court.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:07 pm

1. How much money do you want to eventually make?
2. How much money do you expect to make in 5 years, 10 years and in 20 years?
3. Where do you see yourself/the firm in 5 years, 10 years and in 20 years?

I am asking because I am an investment management attorney. I'll be joining a relatively small fund with great compensation upside. My college buddies who are in the hedge fund world already make 500K in salary with bonuses 2-3 x salary depending on the year's performance. They have advised me to join the fund world. Lawyers won't make as much obviously, but there is considerable upside. The problem is that I hate corporate and working long hours for someone else. I would go solo but from what I've heard, the pay is not the greatest. It takes an impressive lawyer to consistent hit six figures year after year as a solo.

r6_philly

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

Postby r6_philly » Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:1. How much money do you want to eventually make?
2. How much money do you expect to make in 5 years, 10 years and in 20 years?
3. Where do you see yourself/the firm in 5 years, 10 years and in 20 years?

I am asking because I am an investment management attorney. I'll be joining a relatively small fund with great compensation upside. My college buddies who are in the hedge fund world already make 500K in salary with bonuses 2-3 x salary depending on the year's performance. They have advised me to join the fund world. Lawyers won't make as much obviously, but there is considerable upside. The problem is that I hate corporate and working long hours for someone else. I would go solo but from what I've heard, the pay is not the greatest. It takes an impressive lawyer to consistent hit six figures year after year as a solo.


Great question, something I ponder quite a bit on my own.

1. The amount of money I want to make, to be honest, cannot be generated from a small firm. I view the small firm as a way to have predictable income (eventually) while I invest in/create tech startups. I have been able to get involved in 3 projects (1 launched) since I left the firm. I would have never had the kind of time to get involved in anything else other than being a good associate. But as a practical goal for a solo, if I can make more than I would make as an associate, I would be happy. I would of course love to leverage and start to expand and hire associates -- see below.

2. That leads to question 3 too. That is unknown. The reason I say is I am not sure what my market ultimate would shape up to be. It could grow toward an outside general counsel type of firm, which would mean a certain level of revenue, it could grow more towards an IP boutique, which would indicate another level of revenue. Generally, I would like to see my practice grow to 5-10 person in 5 years. Beyond that depending on taking on partners/books which I don't want to speculate. So if you were able to bill out 10 associates at $300 on average, that is 1500x300x10 = 4.5MM revenue.

I would say at this early stage, I want to grow to a point where I can be almost full service for startup/emerging companies and be able to serve as outside general counsel and litigation counsel. That may be 10-20 lawyers. I would be happy if that is where my firm leads to. I also hope to curate great startups and perhaps run a venture fund when the opportunity is right. That's where my answer to #1 leads to. But those plans are long shots.

I would say if you are after greater potential of money, do not view a small firm as the ticket. A successful fund will have much more potential. The issue is if you go to a fund as an attorney, you will have a ceiling. If you go to a fund as a manager, you probably shouldn't be practicing. If you are following the money, I think you should aim toward managing a fund. There is something to be said (and worth a lot of money) to be the boss.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 09, 2016 3:51 pm

Thanks for answering.

Can I ask you how much you think some of the tech startup attorneys who are members of the below platforms make? Can these solos or 2-3 man shops ever make more than 500K each on an annual basis? Just based off of billings, not investments or shares in exchange for their services.

https://lawtrades.com/
https://www.priorilegal.com/
https://www.quora.com/Who-are-the-best- ... YC-and-why

Look at how many impressive, smart, well-accomplished, experienced attorneys there are. It is mind boggling how many lawyers there are. What is up with our profession? Why are so many hard working, smart, bright individuals packed into such a small space, all working for peanuts. I guess that's where smart people without math skills end up doing.

In any case, most of these tech startups are ivy trained and have great reviews/work experience, etc. How much do you think these guys make?

r6_philly

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

Postby r6_philly » Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:21 am

I don't know about those platforms and their business models well enough to give you opinions on them. I can tell you that from where I am sitting, there are not a lot of highly qualified attorneys ready to work on client matters for reasonable cost. I can also tell you that my clients all have problems finding good counsel. So I don't agree that the startup space is very competitive at least outside of SV/NYC. There are lots of lawyers who wants to get in the space, but really good competition are not as plenty as you would think.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:18 am

What do you think of these attorneys? They have great reviews and based on their education and work experience, they look like very competent attorneys. How much do you think they make?

http://fortisgc.com/attorneys.html
http://bottomlinelawgroup.com/profile/

r6_philly

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

Postby r6_philly » Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:04 am

That is a really abstract question to ask. We don't know how much they charge hourly or how much they are being utilized. If they charged $500/hour and bill 1000 hours, that is $500k - overhead, so could be anywhere between 2-400k. If they charged $400 and bill 800 hours, that's $320k - overhead which is a lot less.

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

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:55 am

How much have you grossed? What is your billing rate and average billable hours per week?

r6_philly

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

Postby r6_philly » Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:How much have you grossed? What is your billing rate and average billable hours per week?


My rate is $400, but most of my clients pay flat fees or a partial contingency. Since most of my work is not strictly billable, I would say I was at less than half capacity for the first couple of months. I spend the rest of the time on my startup projects and networking. But that is about to change, a couple cases have just been filed, and I just took on a rather large new case so I will be busy for a while.

thegrayman

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

Postby thegrayman » Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:51 pm

just wanted to say good for you man, hanging out your own shingle takes some balls!

r6_philly

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

Postby r6_philly » Fri Aug 12, 2016 9:42 pm

thegrayman wrote:just wanted to say good for you man, hanging out your own shingle takes some balls!


Thanks! It certainly took some courage and encouragement from my family to pull it off. But as time goes by I am so glad I did it.

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Br3v

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

Postby Br3v » Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:52 pm

OP can you link to your blog if it's up?

r6_philly

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

Postby r6_philly » Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:33 pm

Br3v wrote:OP can you link to your blog if it's up?


TechInLaw.com. I just started posting again, so there will be more content going forward.

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Br3v

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

Postby Br3v » Sat Aug 13, 2016 9:30 am

r6_philly wrote:
Br3v wrote:OP can you link to your blog if it's up?


TechInLaw.com. I just started posting again, so there will be more content going forward.

Awesome, good luck. It's all pretty cool what you're doing



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