general "what's litigation practice like" questions

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utlaw2007
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Re: general "what's litigation practice like" questions

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:41 pm

I've made a full recovery, by the way. It took a long time. But I can walk and talk just fine now.

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lacrossebrother
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Re: general "what's litigation practice like" questions

Postby lacrossebrother » Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:49 pm

How do you decide how much time to spend on a certain project vs. another project during the day? Do you make Gantt charts

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DELG
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Re: general "what's litigation practice like" questions

Postby DELG » Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:53 pm

starry eyed wrote:Circa 2013: Utlaw is embraced by tls for his profound wisdom.
Circa 2015: Get the ---- out humblebragger.

Spotty 2013: wait, who are you?
Spotty 2015: who are you and how did you rack up all those posts?

utlaw2007
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Re: general "what's litigation practice like" questions

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:27 pm

lacrossebrother wrote:How do you decide how much time to spend on a certain project vs. another project during the day? Do you make Gantt charts



To tell you the truth. I'm not that organized. I should be. I do routinely make a list of all the tasks that need to be done very soon. I also leave reminders on my phone for the most important things.

I'm somewhat paranoid. If a case issue is on my mind, it's really hard for me to put it on the shelf while I tend to more pressing matters unless those pressing matters have to be resolved in the next few days. That being said, I'm getting better with my organization.

The key thing to remember is that you also have to plan business marketing strategies and you have to plan for their implementation. Nothing major. You may need to decide if you're going to attend this function or that one, based on what kinds of prospective clients are going to be there. Always keep a tally of your contacts made, no matter how brief. That way, you will know how much to increase those brief new contacts and you can also track what kinds of prospective clients need to be targeted and which ones do not need to be targeted. The marketing component is by far the hardest and significantly dependent on your local region as to what type of prospective clients you should target. Remember, find an area of unmet demand and then meet that demand. Tailor your practice areas mostly around those areas that will provide a useful service to prospective clients. Sure, you don't want to totally ignore your practice preferences, but you have no choice but to consider and really choose from services that are in demand.

One thing that helps for me is that being a solo practitioner compels me to think about my case issues at the strangest times. Sometimes, I will get up in the middle of the night from sleeping to conduct brief research or I'll be thinking about my legal arguments and evidence gathering plans while driving, eating lunch, or during some other activity not associated with law practice. Often, you will find yourself in the zone at the strangest times. Plaintiff contingency fee practice is so competitive. You want to win to get paid, but you mainly just want to win.
Last edited by utlaw2007 on Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.

utlaw2007
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Re: general "what's litigation practice like" questions

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:31 pm

As far as time spent on a project, you never try to predict that because you can never know. After you get a lot of experience under your belt, you can better make ball park predictions as to how long a task will take. But at the beginning, you just have no idea and you want to spend as much time as it takes to get it right. What you thought could be done in one day turns into three days because you want to really make it perfect and you also want to learn it completely.

utlaw2007
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Re: general "what's litigation practice like" questions

Postby utlaw2007 » Thu Mar 12, 2015 2:40 pm

bl1nds1ght wrote:A+ thread so far. Thank you for stopping by to answer questions.

Being a solo and working for myself (or being a different type of business owner) seems very appealing and motivating, but honestly, the possibility of failing a client because of an inexperienced mistake makes me feel sick just thinking about it. Is that the primary motivation for the first few years before you really get confident with the material? Is that fear eventually replaced by something else? I'd imagine that "hunger" to do well for yourself and your clients is a large portion of motivation, too. Fear and hunger seem like they go hand in hand. You're the only person. The responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders.

What is something that you still find difficult about being self-employed in the legal field? How are you trying to address this potential difficulty?

Would you have done anything differently either in your existence as a solo practitioner or in regards to pursuing another field entirely.

Thank you very much for your time.


I totally forgot to answer this question. And I'd say that this question is a most significant one.

The fear of failure is the scariest thing about starting out. When I filed my first real lawsuit, I happened to be facing a very large entity, one of the largest and highest earning corporations in the country. I was asking for an obscene amount of money. I didn't get it. But I settled for a very significant amount in the end. But at the beginning of that litigation, I was absolutely horrified that they would have my case dismissed because of some procedural/jurisdictional technicality that I did not know about because of my inexperience.

What that fear does is compel you to conduct the most intense and thorough research you have ever done, including all of the research you did in law school. I filed the case only a month before the statute of limitations expired. Had the case been dismissed, I would not have been able to refile regardless of whether the case was dismissed with prejudice or not. I was always thinking about how bad it would be if I messed up and my client filed a board complaint and they found out that I had no experience to take this kind of case. But I also considered that I was not taking a murder case with no idea how to defend a client from a capital murder charge. The harm is not nearly in parody. The main thing you have to do when starting out is never represent that you have experience. I avoid the issue altogether and it never came up. Had a client asked, you have to tell them the truth. But another advantage to having to take rejects for cases is that the client has no choice. You're the only attorney who will take the case because nobody else will. Also, you want to discount your fees a lot.

But to answer your question, yes. Your primary motivation when you start out is that you are terrified of messing up badly so as to have a board complaint filed against you. That's why, it is vitally important to pick practice areas in the beginning that you have familiarity with because of law school. As you gain experience, then you can choose other or more practice areas. That's one of the reasons why I had not offered my services to larger small businesses because they'd be the first to file board complaints against you or sue you for malpractice. I just wasn't comfortable with handling those cases for a long time. You have to work up to it. But that does hinder your ability to make more money in the beginning. But it also keeps you from having that terrifying feeling all the time.

Thankfully, that fear is replaced with confidence when you begin winning. Trial and litigation is highly competitive. If you are a competitive person, that helps a lot. Before I opened my own firm, I lost a case that I helped on with my best friend's step dad. It was a construction contract case. The case centered around a mall that was supposed to be built so there was a lot of money involved. Needless to say, our client and star witness died. Worse still, he died and we didn't find out about it until right before trial. We had nothing. Opposing counsel cornered us and made us settle for paltry amount. It was still a pay day, but not much of one. I remember walking out of the mediation mad as hell that we had lost. I was so upset and angry that another lawyer was able to force me to quit pursuing a remedy. Our client and star witness had died. What could we have done? We had no choice. It was not our fault. But still... That meant nothing to me. At that moment, I vowed to never lose a fu&^%$ing case again. I never want to feel like that again.

So your competitive spirit is motivation for learning and being thorough, too. You just want to beat he hell out of your opponent because you want to win. You want to help you client obtain justice, too. But most importantly, you want to win. That is all that matters. Having that competitive fire does wonders for your preparation. You will still have doubts. Doubts never leave you. But those doubts also fuel your fire to prepare.

Before I accept a case, I tell the prospective client what I think I can do. But I make no commitment and tell them I have to research some things first. I don't research a lot or anything. I just mainly see if I can proceed forward with a viable claim. Then I accept or reject a case. That will also protect you from board complaints. Boards are pretty pro lawyer. Just be as honest as you can and do your best. Never misrepresent anything to a client and you will be fine.

Marketing is the biggest challenge. That's still a challenge now. You have to constantly address it and modify your marketing. You have to constantly change your target prospective clients. You don't want to waste money either so you want to do this efficiently. Biggest challenge to law firm ownership when you are fairly new. You have to stay on top of those issues and tackle them like you would legal issues. You have to devote a lot of thought to it. It's scary. But put in the time. Try things. Just keep track of how much money it will take. Use reason and critical thinking. Consider those methods that are tried and true. Add variation to those methods that you feel may better help you, but are conceptually no different. Conceptualize everything to help evaluate the process. Always understand the concept behind what you do and assess if it makes sense to reap dividends. Then do it. If it doesn't work. Modify what you are doing. It's a very fluid and ever changing process.

I totally love what I do. I was built for this. I'm a very finicky person and I just don't like being told what to do on a job. There's incredible risk. But there are ways to mitigate those risks. The freedom it brings, the immense power you have as an enforcer of the laws, and the allowance of making money incredibly efficiently, law firm ownership is too great an option to pass up if you feel you have the chops for it.




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