path to trial law

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TyrionLannister
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Re: path to trial law

Postby TyrionLannister » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:56 pm

vamedic03 wrote:
TyrionLannister wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:I will say that schools like South Texas and Baylor have a huge advantage over schools like Yale, Chicago, etc... because Baylor and South Texas actually put an emphasis on trial law. At a top law school, trial law is a huge after thought. In that sense, I will admit that South Texas and Baylor trial lawyers would run circles around a Harvard or Stanford grad who ends up doing litigation after having never done it in school. And this advantage is kept throughout one's entire career. It just is. I'm partnered with a South Texas trial lawyer on a products liability case and he is very good. I also have a high school classmate that went to South Texas, and he's also very good. I'm sure that Baylor grads are very similar.

My thing is that UT Law puts a fair amount of emphasis on trial law for a school ranked as high as it is. Trial law is an after thought at UT Law mostly, just as it is at all the law schools ranked ahead of it. It's an after thought at UT because the school does not highlight it as a point of emphasis. But if a student DECIDES to pursue an education in advocacy at UT, the program is really great.


I have a V15 senior associate contact that brought up that same opinion of Harvard grads. He mentioned how they lack practical skills found in those hired from lower ranked schools. Also said that OCI @ Harvard is different than at other schools. At Harvard, the school selects who interviews with the firm, instead of the firm selecting students to interview. Harvard feels that, since they are Harvard, everyone there is a worthy candidate.


FYI - all the T14, save UVA (which uses a combination of preselects and lottery), use a lottery system for OCI - this isn't unique to Harvard.


Did not know that, thank you. Our conversation was very UCLA/USC-centric, considering that I have two kids and am pretty locked in to the SoCal area.

guyplus
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Postby guyplus » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:01 am

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Last edited by guyplus on Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

utlaw2007
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Re: path to trial law

Postby utlaw2007 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:34 pm

guyplus wrote:I plan to use transactional real estate business as my primary income support for pursuing catastrophic PI. I currently run a business that services mortgage brokers and realtors, and that network of potential clients seems like a no-brainer for me to capitalize on. When I go solo after graduating, I want to be able to take on the largest, deepest pocketed defendants without fear that I won't be able to support the cases through lengthy trials. I will partner with an established firm to help.

I have a family, so the "starve until you make it" strategy isn't something that appeals to me. My wife has a good enough job to pay the bills and still put some away. And we have enough savings to open my practice and support it for 12-15 months with minimal income if we absolutely had to. But I don't really see myself being able to ignore such low hanging fruit for that long.

Is my plan viable? Will the large time investment it takes to get a transactional RE law practice going still leave me time to work towards my goal of catastrophic PI or will I just have to wait a year or two until that pipeline is mature before I pursue catastrophic PI? Do you know of anyone that has used this strategy?


When starting a law firm right out of law school, you have to do whatever you can to make money. Catastrophic personal injury cases won't be knocking on your door so much that you won't have time to do anything else. I think that is a good plan. I have a law school classmate who started her firm right out of law school like I did. She was the only one at Texas saying she didn't want biglaw from the get go. She would bring me stats and numbers concerning income levels and whatnot regarding solo practice right out of law school.

She and I are actually partnered together. She's purely transactional. She handles real estate, as well. I handle all of her litigation for her since my firm is a litigation boutique. It's a perfect setup. She suggested that we open our own firm when we had our five year reunion at UT Law. To make a long story short, I will have to wait and see how things pan out as far as merging into one firm. But our partnership is really great right now. And she hired her first associate a few weeks ago. So she's doing quite well and has enough business to need an associate in the first place, let alone, pay one. But with transactional stuff, more associates mean more money. Transactional work is tied to hourly billing, which I think is a terribly inefficient way of making money. You can bill far more hours with a second lawyer working on things. There has to be volume to make a lot of money in a transactional practice. So hiring associates is an obvious solution to making more money if the work is there to begin with. However, with contingency fee litigation, associates aren't needed unless you have a crap load of volume. Most plaintiffs attorneys don't work with anyone for the most part unless they partner with other firms on more expensive cases like I do.
Last edited by utlaw2007 on Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

utlaw2007
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Re: path to trial law

Postby utlaw2007 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:41 pm

The main thing to remember when you are a young lawyer with your own firm, cases won't come to you because you don't have a rep yet. You have to go to your cases. That's where most of your business planning will be used. It's imperative that you work hard to come up with a specific plan as to how you are going to get clients for litigation. Most lawyers, I would imagine, don't have a great marketing plan. I think that's the most important part of having a law practice in the early stages. You have to be good to win cases unless they are slam dunk. Then anyone can win them. Many cases are slam dunk. But you have to have cases, in the first place, to win. The key is planning how you are going to get those cases because that is the hard part.

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SaintsTheMetal
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Re: path to trial law

Postby SaintsTheMetal » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:44 pm

utlaw2007 wrote:The main thing to remember when you are a young lawyer with your own firm, cases won't come to you because you don't have a rep yet. You have to go to your cases. That's where most of your business planning will be used. It's imperative that you work hard to come up with a specific plan as to how you are going to get clients for litigation. Most lawyers, I would imagine, don't have a great marketing plan. I think that's the most important part of having a law practice in the early stages. You have to be good to win cases unless they are slam dunk. Then anyone can win them. Many cases are slam dunk. But you have to have cases, in the first place, to win. The key is planning how you are going to get those cases because that is the hard part.


any chance you could talk about how you went about getting business at the very beginning? Obviously it is the most important first step, but I'm curious how you were able to get these first cases.. unless it's something you're guarding as a secret

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Tanicius
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Re: path to trial law

Postby Tanicius » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:54 am

utlaw2007 wrote:The main thing to remember when you are a young lawyer with your own firm, cases won't come to you because you don't have a rep yet. You have to go to your cases. That's where most of your business planning will be used. It's imperative that you work hard to come up with a specific plan as to how you are going to get clients for litigation. Most lawyers, I would imagine, don't have a great marketing plan. I think that's the most important part of having a law practice in the early stages. You have to be good to win cases unless they are slam dunk. Then anyone can win them. Many cases are slam dunk. But you have to have cases, in the first place, to win. The key is planning how you are going to get those cases because that is the hard part.



This is the aspect of soloing that absolutely terrifies me. Marketing sounds both necessary and expensive. If I started my own shop, it would be crim defense, and I'd probably only ever explore into plaintiff work if I had a good financial base from which I could more cautiously risk contingency cases, but I have to imagine either genre of work is fairly similar from a marketing standpoint. What was your strategy? And what kind of area do you work in? Is it urban, suburban, rural, etc?

guyplus
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Postby guyplus » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:44 am

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Last edited by guyplus on Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

utlaw2007
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Re: path to trial law

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:50 am

guyplus wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:When starting a law firm right out of law school, you have to do whatever you can to make money. I think that is a good plan.


Thanks for your confirmation. What portion of your litigation business is referred to you from your partner? I'm having trouble connecting the dots between RE law and CPI.


Please clarify what CPI is. Thanks.

guyplus
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Postby guyplus » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:56 am

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Last edited by guyplus on Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

utlaw2007
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Re: path to trial law

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:02 am

Tanicius wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:The main thing to remember when you are a young lawyer with your own firm, cases won't come to you because you don't have a rep yet. You have to go to your cases. That's where most of your business planning will be used. It's imperative that you work hard to come up with a specific plan as to how you are going to get clients for litigation. Most lawyers, I would imagine, don't have a great marketing plan. I think that's the most important part of having a law practice in the early stages. You have to be good to win cases unless they are slam dunk. Then anyone can win them. Many cases are slam dunk. But you have to have cases, in the first place, to win. The key is planning how you are going to get those cases because that is the hard part.



This is the aspect of soloing that absolutely terrifies me. Marketing sounds both necessary and expensive. If I started my own shop, it would be crim defense, and I'd probably only ever explore into plaintiff work if I had a good financial base from which I could more cautiously risk contingency cases, but I have to imagine either genre of work is fairly similar from a marketing standpoint. What was your strategy? And what kind of area do you work in? Is it urban, suburban, rural, etc?


I think it is scary. That's why I think it helps tremendously if you are a people person and like to connect with people. I do some of my targeted marketing by attending business conventions, professional happy hours, etc...

My work is both urban and suburban since Houston has both and they are pretty much on top of each other.

I don't practice criminal so I have no idea how to market oneself as a criminal lawyer. I would imagine that it's not too different from marketing oneself a personal injury attorney.

Another way I get cases (I have a high school classmate who gets most of his cases this way and he's way more successful than me because he's been practicing much longer) is to have them referred to you by other lawyers who can't handle those types. I have four lawyers/small firms I get cases from. This means that you have to network with other lawyers, whether they be experienced or not. Experienced lawyers happen upon more cases to refer, but they usually have their go to guys. The young lawyer doesn't happen upon many cases, but that person has no guy to refer cases. It's safe to just network with every lawyer you can, regardless.

utlaw2007
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Re: path to trial law

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:14 am

guyplus wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:
guyplus wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:When starting a law firm right out of law school, you have to do whatever you can to make money. I think that is a good plan.


Thanks for your confirmation. What portion of your litigation business is referred to you from your partner? I'm having trouble connecting the dots between RE law and CPI.


Please clarify what CPI is. Thanks.


My hackneyed abbreviation for catastrophic PI. I'm having trouble seeing how a RE lawyer would stumble across a case with huge damages other than a wrongly foreclosed property and I'm not even sure if that would count as catastrophic.


I gotcha. I was the one who was sleeping at the wheel.

Catastrophic personal injury cases are very hard to come by as a new lawyer. I credit God for delivering me with two of those kinds of cases in one in a half years. But the best way to get catastrophic personal injury cases that you can control is to know as MANY PEOPLE as you can. If you have a real estate business, I think that is perfect. What you should do, is learn as much as you can about other practice areas so you can solve more legal problems. The more different types of legal problems you can solve, the more cases you can take on and the more money you can make. It's great if you live near a law library to do research. Use the internet to get an idea of how a particular area of law works. Don't take that info as gospel, just use it to get a basic idea of how something works. Get to know as many nice, experienced lawyers as you can so you can ask them questions. If you personally already know some from high school or undergrad, that's even better because you can ask those guys questions more freely. Try to locate some reference books that contain legal forms of motions, rules of trial practice and whatnot. Keep your civil procedure books from law school. Keep your barbri study books after you pass the bar. All of these things will become your first point of reference when first evaluating a case.

As for your real estate practice, who is to say that some guy you just helped in that area won't have a cousin who got run over by a bus last week? It happens. Buses don't discriminate. Haha. But seriously, a client base is one of the best forms of networking for potential cases because these people may have other legal needs that need to be satisfied. If you can satisfy them, they are going to you first because they already know you.

utlaw2007
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Re: path to trial law

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:19 am

guyplus wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:When starting a law firm right out of law school, you have to do whatever you can to make money. I think that is a good plan.


Thanks for your confirmation. What portion of your litigation business is referred to you from your partner? I'm having trouble connecting the dots between RE law and CPI.


I would say about a third of my cases are referred from her. I would say half are referred from other lawyers.

guyplus
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Postby guyplus » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:21 am

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Last edited by guyplus on Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

utlaw2007
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Re: path to trial law

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:12 pm

SaintsTheMetal wrote:
utlaw2007 wrote:The main thing to remember when you are a young lawyer with your own firm, cases won't come to you because you don't have a rep yet. You have to go to your cases. That's where most of your business planning will be used. It's imperative that you work hard to come up with a specific plan as to how you are going to get clients for litigation. Most lawyers, I would imagine, don't have a great marketing plan. I think that's the most important part of having a law practice in the early stages. You have to be good to win cases unless they are slam dunk. Then anyone can win them. Many cases are slam dunk. But you have to have cases, in the first place, to win. The key is planning how you are going to get those cases because that is the hard part.


any chance you could talk about how you went about getting business at the very beginning? Obviously it is the most important first step, but I'm curious how you were able to get these first cases.. unless it's something you're guarding as a secret



Getting busy when you, literally, just start out is a simple matter of getting cases from people you know. Get on Facebook to reconnect. I've even gotten cases through women I've met on dating sites. So that told me to continue meeting women on dating sites, just in case. That's the kind of stuff you should do when you first start out. You don't HAVE to join a dating site. It's not like I've gotten several cases that way. But it can happen.

And most importantly, be very nice and professional with the clients you do get at first. Be likable. If you are, your clients will refer you first. The key is doing as many practice areas you can so that you are more than likely able to handle potential client legal needs. I'm not saying to combine transactional with litigation. I've seen many lawyers do that. The ones that do, are not good litigators. They are actually kind of bad litigators. It's because knowing civil procedure, local rules, and how to draft and answer motions, comply with jurisdiction (part of civil procedure), is super important for litigation. Plus it's time consuming. It's time consuming because you just have to read relevant parts of the rules of civil procedure for your jurisdiction while you are starting out. And you should read all relevant state statutes to know all of the causes of action for your practice areas. You don't have to know all of them. I doubt I know all of them. But you need to know the most common ones. And it would suck to file a common law cause of action only to found out that the common law on that given area has been replaced by a statutory cause of action on that type of case.

Get in every free attorney listing/publication you can. These don't help much. But the one case you do get from those things can turn into more cases because of client referrals.

utlaw2007
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Re: path to trial law

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 12:23 pm

But use as many referrals sources as you can. I sometimes get good info from some of my law school classmates who are working in firms of all sizes. They sometimes know things that I don't know about substantive procedural or substantive things on the law. You'll find that many state laws have added modifications to existing common law that you learn in school. That's why it's super important to keep your state specific barbri (the most popular bar exam preparation company) bar exam study materials (just the outlines). They are a good resource. And that's why it's important to read relevant state statutes concerning your practice areas. It takes time, but you have to do it. The main thing you want to do at the outset is make sure you plead jurisdiction correctly. Understand jurisdiction. Learn jurisdiction for your state. Take that state civil procedure class, as well. This is super important. Otherwise, you'll plead incorrectly. And sometimes pleading incorrectly can lead to getting your case dismissed. And if the case doesn't get dismissed, you can get your claim dismissed. But if that's your only claim, your case gets dismissed as a result. If it's dismissed without prejudice, you can just refile again. But that's if the Statute of Limitations hasn't run. Or if you are defending, it can lead to you consenting to the court's jurisdiction when they did not have it legitimately. But you consented to it, because you pled something wrong, and now you are screwed or about to face a malpractice lawsuit or both.

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IHeartPhilly
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Re: path to trial law

Postby IHeartPhilly » Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:25 pm

utlaw, i've been following this thread closely. Thanks for all of the input. Also have you ever heard of this guy adam reposa? He's a trial lawyer in Austin and is starting to garner some attention on youtube through these absurd advertisements...they're hilarious. Being a fellow TX lawyer, i though you might appreciate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdvcZjAh ... _embedded#!

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manofjustice
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Re: path to trial law

Postby manofjustice » Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:32 pm

Does this practice net you a fair sum, BigLaw-relative?

utlaw2007
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Re: path to trial law

Postby utlaw2007 » Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:23 pm

manofjustice wrote:Does this practice net you a fair sum, BigLaw-relative?


My practice is much more lucrative than what an associate makes at biglaw. My goal is to reach lawyers whom I personally know whose annual take home exceeds that of biglaw partners.




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