Solo Practice After Law School

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arm5149
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Solo Practice After Law School

Postby arm5149 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:13 pm

I'm starting law school in the Fall - anyone have any thoughts on going solo straight out of school? any one thinking the same?

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NYC Law
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby NYC Law » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:15 pm

It'd be nice, especially since I love entrepreneurship, but this just isn't a feasible idea coming out of law school. You have no experience and no clients.

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D-ROCCA
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby D-ROCCA » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:16 pm

Unless you have great, marketable experience and great connections with future clients that will be profitable, don't do it.

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Heartford
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby Heartford » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:45 pm

There's also the issue of the statistical likelihood of your (inadvertently) committing malpractice within your first 6 months of solo practice being somewhere north of 80%.

shoeshine
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby shoeshine » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:49 pm

Despite what everyone says on this site. It is plausible in some areas of the country.

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Heartford
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby Heartford » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:52 pm

shoeshine wrote:Despite what everyone says on this site. It is plausible in some areas of the country.


My understanding is that it's not only plausible, but very common for recent law school graduates to go into solo practice, and pretty much all over the country. The more important issue is probably not so much how plausible it is, but rather how many novice solos avoid bankruptcy, malpractice suits, disbarment, and general career suicide.

shoeshine
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby shoeshine » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:56 pm

Heartford wrote:
shoeshine wrote:Despite what everyone says on this site. It is plausible in some areas of the country.


My understanding is that it's not only plausible, but very common for recent law school graduates to go into solo practice, and pretty much all over the country. The more important issue is probably not so much how plausible it is, but rather how many novice solos avoid bankruptcy, malpractice suits, disbarment, and general career suicide.


What I meant by plausible was that it was possible to both do it and succeed (i.e. not go bankrupt or get disbarred). The easiest areas seem to be places that are not over saturated with law schools or lawyers.

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Heartford
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby Heartford » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:06 pm

shoeshine wrote:
Heartford wrote:
shoeshine wrote:Despite what everyone says on this site. It is plausible in some areas of the country.


My understanding is that it's not only plausible, but very common for recent law school graduates to go into solo practice, and pretty much all over the country. The more important issue is probably not so much how plausible it is, but rather how many novice solos avoid bankruptcy, malpractice suits, disbarment, and general career suicide.


What I meant by plausible was that it was possible to both do it and succeed (i.e. not go bankrupt or get disbarred). The easiest areas seem to be places that are not over saturated with law schools or lawyers.


I agree that it's possible to succeed. I just wanted to point out that many young lawyers make huge career mistakes as a result of what they didn't learn in law school, which is how to actually be an attorney. I guess I've already pointed that out though.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby gwuorbust » Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:50 am

Heartford wrote:There's also the issue of the statistical likelihood of your (inadvertently) committing malpractice within your first 6 months of solo practice being somewhere north of 80%.


did you know that 78.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot?

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gwuorbust
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby gwuorbust » Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:53 am

and on a serious note, it is very possible to go solo at graduation. you are not doomed to failure as some on this site would have you believe - you just have to have a plan before you start.

but this topic has been rehashed many times and you'd probably best served by reading through those threads first and then coming back to this one.

stuckinparadise
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby stuckinparadise » Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:00 am

Starting a solo practice takes a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$.

Malpractice insurance alone is enough to keep most from hanging a shingle...let alone paying the rent.

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kswiss
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby kswiss » Thu Jun 16, 2011 2:14 am

stuckinparadise wrote:Starting a solo practice takes a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$.

Malpractice insurance alone is enough to keep most from hanging a shingle...let alone paying the rent.


This is categorically wrong. Look it up.

Not that hanging out a shingle is a good idea for the vast majority of students, but a law practice is very low overhead, and malp doesn't happen as often as people think it does, so it is not that expensive.

It is also less expensive early in your career compared to later.

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24secure
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby 24secure » Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:16 am

I just went to a conference for solo and small firms. I talked with a lot of attorneys there and most of them said that while they wouldn't necessarily recommend starting your own practice right out of law school, it can definitely be done. However, a lot of them did work for small, medium, and large firms before the went out on their own and most of them seemed much happier now than when they worked for someone else. You won't make as much money as if you were with a large firm, but you can definitely make a comfortable living and you won't be working 80 hours a week.

It seems like the the hardest part is finding clients. Disciplinary complaints aren't that common at all unless you are just stupid and commit a blatant violation. Overhead can also be very low since there are low cost legal research alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis (that are just as good as those high priced services), and since you can run the practice without any employees beside yourself, overhead can be extremely low.

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NYC Law
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby NYC Law » Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:28 am

24secure wrote:I just went to a conference for solo and small firms. I talked with a lot of attorneys there and most of them said that while they wouldn't necessarily recommend starting your own practice right out of law school, it can definitely be done. However, a lot of them did work for small, medium, and large firms before the went out on their own and most of them seemed much happier now than when they worked for someone else. You won't make as much money as if you were with a large firm, but you can definitely make a comfortable living and you won't be working 80 hours a week.

It seems like the the hardest part is finding clients. Disciplinary complaints aren't that common at all unless you are just stupid and commit a blatant violation. Overhead can also be very low since there are low cost legal research alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis (that are just as good as those high priced services), and since you can run the practice without any employees beside yourself, overhead can be extremely low.


I'm pretty sure it can be run out of your home in the beginning as well, and legal forms aren't hard to find. But again, the biggest issues will be experience and clients

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gwuorbust
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby gwuorbust » Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:54 am

NYC Law wrote:
24secure wrote:I just went to a conference for solo and small firms. I talked with a lot of attorneys there and most of them said that while they wouldn't necessarily recommend starting your own practice right out of law school, it can definitely be done. However, a lot of them did work for small, medium, and large firms before the went out on their own and most of them seemed much happier now than when they worked for someone else. You won't make as much money as if you were with a large firm, but you can definitely make a comfortable living and you won't be working 80 hours a week.

It seems like the the hardest part is finding clients. Disciplinary complaints aren't that common at all unless you are just stupid and commit a blatant violation. Overhead can also be very low since there are low cost legal research alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis (that are just as good as those high priced services), and since you can run the practice without any employees beside yourself, overhead can be extremely low.


I'm pretty sure it can be run out of your home in the beginning as well, and legal forms aren't hard to find. But again, the biggest issues will be experience and clients


I think clients is an issue IF you don't have a plan on how to get clients. If you simply make some business cards with "gwuorbust, Attorney at Law" and expect clients to beat down your door.. it will be 100% unsuccessful. A plan is absolutely necessary.

stuckinparadise
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby stuckinparadise » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:10 pm

kswiss wrote:
stuckinparadise wrote:Starting a solo practice takes a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$.

Malpractice insurance alone is enough to keep most from hanging a shingle...let alone paying the rent.


This is categorically wrong. Look it up.

Not that hanging out a shingle is a good idea for the vast majority of students, but a law practice is very low overhead, and malp doesn't happen as often as people think it does, so it is not that expensive.

It is also less expensive early in your career compared to later.



Where are you pulling this info from?

I guess hanging a shingle can have low overhead if your law office is in your 1 bedroom apartment. And newly minted attorneys would be more likely to F up, than seasoned veterans... so why would malpractice insurance be cheaper earlier in your career?

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pleasetryagain
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby pleasetryagain » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:18 pm

stuckinparadise wrote:

Where are you pulling this info from?

I guess hanging a shingle can have low overhead if your law office is in your 1 bedroom apartment. And newly minted attorneys would be more likely to F up, than seasoned veterans... so why would malpractice insurance be cheaper earlier in your career?


I think he meant that starting a law practice would be cheaper earlier in your career because there would be significantly less opportunity cost straight out of law school as opposed to 5 years into practice. Also, since most law students (that I know anyway) are rich/have rich families, paying a mortgage/rent on an office space and covering a little malp insurance shouldn't be prohibitively expensive.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby gwuorbust » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:39 pm

stuckinparadise wrote:
kswiss wrote:
stuckinparadise wrote:Starting a solo practice takes a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$.

Malpractice insurance alone is enough to keep most from hanging a shingle...let alone paying the rent.


This is categorically wrong. Look it up.

Not that hanging out a shingle is a good idea for the vast majority of students, but a law practice is very low overhead, and malp doesn't happen as often as people think it does, so it is not that expensive.

It is also less expensive early in your career compared to later.



Where are you pulling this info from?

I guess hanging a shingle can have low overhead if your law office is in your 1 bedroom apartment. And newly minted attorneys would be more likely to F up, than seasoned veterans... so why would malpractice insurance be cheaper earlier in your career?


only the like 20+ threads that have already covered this. malpractice insurance is like 1 or 2k for your first year. why does malpractice insurance go up with time? cause you have a larger history of clients that could come out of the grave and sue you. so yeah, the old you get the more experience you get..but you also start to carry more baggage and thus a greater likelihood of being sued.

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Rooney
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby Rooney » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:45 pm

Matt Damon practically did it in Rainmaker

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zeth006
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby zeth006 » Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:20 pm

OP, this is nothing new. If you were to start your own practice, you'd be part of the trend of grads starting their own firms straight outta law school. Call me a risk averse pussy if you will, but it's not the safest route to go. I'm learning so much from shadowing a litigator for just 2 months. I don't think I can get all the must-learns down on my own.

But an argument, regardless its merits, can be made that if you're having a hard time getting hired by a firm, this is the route to go.
Last edited by zeth006 on Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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zeth006
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby zeth006 » Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:21 pm

gwuorbust wrote:
stuckinparadise wrote:
kswiss wrote:
stuckinparadise wrote:Starting a solo practice takes a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$.

Malpractice insurance alone is enough to keep most from hanging a shingle...let alone paying the rent.


This is categorically wrong. Look it up.

Not that hanging out a shingle is a good idea for the vast majority of students, but a law practice is very low overhead, and malp doesn't happen as often as people think it does, so it is not that expensive.

It is also less expensive early in your career compared to later.



Where are you pulling this info from?

I guess hanging a shingle can have low overhead if your law office is in your 1 bedroom apartment. And newly minted attorneys would be more likely to F up, than seasoned veterans... so why would malpractice insurance be cheaper earlier in your career?


only the like 20+ threads that have already covered this. malpractice insurance is like 1 or 2k for your first year. why does malpractice insurance go up with time? cause you have a larger history of clients that could come out of the grave and sue you. so yeah, the old you get the more experience you get..but you also start to carry more baggage and thus a greater likelihood of being sued.



Ummmm, yeah. My firm partner just had a psychotic client threatening to sue him for not providing free advice and hours. Not pretty at all. I can see why insurance rises after the first year.

polycom01
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby polycom01 » Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:46 pm

A lawyer I know told me that the worst lawyers he encounters ("those that are truly doing a disservice to their clients"), are the solo practitioners that start straight from law school. He recommended working for a very good lawyer for at least three years, and preferably much longer, before going solo.

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gwuorbust
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby gwuorbust » Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:55 pm

@polycom01. Getting some work experience can be extremely beneficial IF you get the right kind of work experience. Most entry level biglaw work is not going to help you start your firm. One big thing it will help in is confidence, for sure. But knowing what documents to file, etc..working on a IPO or Cross-Border transaction will not help you much when you are working on Mr. Doe's divorce case.

What you have to understand is that there are basically two different classes of "solo from the start" lawyers. (1)Those that are desperate and (2) those that have a plan. There are about 30k jobs for 45k legal graduates. Some of those students will exit law before ever starting and some will get more education..but probably a few thousand will try to start their own law firm. out of desperation.

TTT law schools are a big feed for this and always have been. If you do not have a plan things are almost assuredly going to go bad from the start. You will take whatever cases you can get, you won't know what to do with those cases, you will be scrambling to make a website while juggling cases, etc. Basically, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Plus, most of the people who are this desperate were unable to find gainful employment. If you cannot do that, it does not bode well for a successful legal practice. these are the kind of people who are going to be poor advocates from the start and will, in all likelihood, continue to be a poor advocate.

The second group consists of people who have taken the time to think through and plan for going solo. I am trying to set get in a position where either gainful employment OR going solo would work. I read all kinds of blogs on legal marketing, case management strategies, etc. I am considering different markets. Starting a law firm IS starting a business.

If you just open up a business with absolutely no idea of (a) what you are doing (b) what you need to do and (c) how you will get customers..that business is going to fail. The applies to starting a law firm.

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nealric
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Re: Solo Practice After Law School

Postby nealric » Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:59 pm

Your chance of committing malpractice is extremely high, but your chance of actually getting called out on it, much less sued is pretty low. There are a lot of things law school doesn't teach you, but anybody smart enough to get through law school and pass the bar can learn basic practice skills pretty quickly if they are even remotely resourceful.

The real reasons going solo right out of the gate is a bad idea for most:

1) You will probably end up in a boring, low-end type of practice. Sure, you can keep the lights on churning through no-fault divorces for $300 a pop, but will you really enjoy doing that? Nobody is going to give high-dollar work to a brand new solo. You won't be able to afford to take a big contingency case for quite some time unless you have a nice nest egg to start.

2) Unless you have a working spouse or parents to fund you, you are going to be looking at a solid year with no income. In many states it takes at solid 8-10 months from graduation before you are admitted to practice even if you pass the bar on the first try and have no character and fitness issues. Some of my friends from c/o 2010 are just NOW getting admitted despite being first-time bar passers. If you start a practice like PI that involves no-money out front from the client, count on another 6 months or more until you see your first check.

3) If you are 25 years old upon graduation, it's going to be difficult to sell yourself to clients- especially if you look young. Nobody wants a pipsqueak kid representing them.




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