Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

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wannabesolo
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Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby wannabesolo » Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:44 pm

So everywhere I look online, the information I read is simple: law school is bad (too expensive, too low salaries, etc.) However, I've been seeing some hopeful information on websites saying that going into practice law as a solo attorney isn't as bad.

The wisdom given by online lawyers say that there are too few big law jobs to pay off the big debts received.. Granted that I believe them.. what about starting up a solo office after law school?

Is this a common route? Is there good money to be made in a small/mid-sized town?

Any advice on anything related to solo law would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks

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Verity
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby Verity » Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:59 pm

You do realize that most of us are either in law school or 0Ls?

That being said, you have to be a pretty good entrepreneur to open a law firm straight out of law school; and even if you are, there is huge competition from established firms, and a million other ways you could screw up. Unless you're going to partner up with a seasoned veteran, you better get a few years of work experience with a good firm before you even think of opening a law firm. Even that won't prepare you for the business side of the law.

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MrPapagiorgio
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby MrPapagiorgio » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:00 pm

This has been discussed at length on this site. The general consensus seems to be that going solo right out of law school is a bad idea 99.9% of the time because you lack the network of clients and more importantly, the experience at actually practicing law. It's like anything else: you need experience gained from working under others before you branch out on your own.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:03 pm

It's a very hard route and there's a lot of failure. Where are you going to get clients? Even if you have connections, which you probably don't, no one with real money wants some kid right out of school with no experience as his lawyer. So what can you do? Chase ambulances, put some ads up for DUIs, low-end criminal defense, maybe some simple wills or basic contracts, low-end personal bankruptcies, etc. Clients without much money, clients who are more likely to skip their bills, if clients at all. If you have a great personality and are highly entrepreneurial and efficient you might be able to build something from there, but you're much better off going solo after you work somewhere else for a while, so in conclusion, no I wouldn't depend on that as a realistic career option right out of school.

wannabesolo
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby wannabesolo » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:16 pm

All of that makes sense; however, you all said to work at a firm first, but from what I've been reading many (most) law students are graduating with no job offers. So am I reading the wrong websites or what? ..because there seems to be a general concensus that there is barely job offers for anyone under top 10% at T10.

Although those stats seem to be a bit pessimistic even for me, the fact remains that a lot of J.D. grads are not finding jobs. So what do they do? I personally would prefer trying at solo then bartending.

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Verity
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby Verity » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:18 pm

wannabesolo wrote:All of that makes sense; however, you all said to work at a firm first, but from what I've been reading many (most) law students are graduating with no job offers. So am I reading the wrong websites or what? ..because there seems to be a general concensus that there is barely job offers for anyone under top 10% at T10.

Although those stats seem to be a bit pessimistic even for me, the fact remains that a lot of J.D. grads are not finding jobs. So what do they do? I personally would prefer trying at solo then bartending.


You're probably reading about "biglaw" jobs, and even "there seems to be a general concensus that there is barely job offers for anyone under top 10% at T10" is an exaggeration. Assuming you go to a decent school and do relatively well, the chances of finding worthwhile employment after law school are a hell of a lot better than succeeding at staring up a firm right out of law school.

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MrPapagiorgio
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby MrPapagiorgio » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:20 pm

wannabesolo wrote:All of that makes sense; however, you all said to work at a firm first, but from what I've been reading many (most) law students are graduating with no job offers. So am I reading the wrong websites or what? ..because there seems to be a general concensus that there is barely job offers for anyone under top 10% at T10.

Although those stats seem to be a bit pessimistic even for me, the fact remains that a lot of J.D. grads are not finding jobs. So what do they do? I personally would prefer trying at solo then bartending.

Not to be a dick, but that is poor logic. You can't get a job as an attorney with a firm, so you open your own firm? If that was the case, everyone would do it. That nearly every law school graduate that has no gainful legal employment does not do this should tell you something. (That it is a really, really bad idea)

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Cupidity
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby Cupidity » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:21 pm

I understand you want to work solo. But you seem to be disregarding the enormous costs. Rent, Malpractice Insurance, COL while you wait to collect on any cases. All that is disregarding the fact that you are likely to commit malpractice if you start litigating without any real experience.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:27 pm

Verity wrote:
You're probably reading about "biglaw" jobs, and even "there seems to be a general concensus that there is barely job offers for anyone under top 10% at T10" is an exaggeration. Assuming you go to a decent school and do relatively well, the chances of finding worthwhile employment after law school are a hell of a lot better than succeeding at staring up a firm right out of law school.


I'd hesitate to agree with this without knowing your definition of "decent school." The risk of graduating jobless is pretty significant from the vast majority of law schools right now.

wannabesolo
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby wannabesolo » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:31 pm

If my post sounds illogical, think of it like this: you just graduated law school - you have $100,000 debt from law school, $30,000 from undergrad - you receive no offers of employment from the "big law" firms that we've all heard pay $160,000/year - compounding interest is a bitch when working against you... and then you see a website that gives the start of a business plan on opening your own solo law firm for less than $3,000 (insurance, computer, cards, etc.) .... to me, it would be most logical to give it a go. If I'm already down $130,000, have no offers of employment on the table, I would try to at least look for some low-end criminal and divorce cases.

But I obviously don't know the answers, which is why I am here looking for advice.

Regardless of my above posts on solo - you are saying that there are still plenty of jobs to go around? I ask that advice to people who are soon graduating or just graduated law school.. The ones who actually know what the market is like right now.

Thanks

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:37 pm

wannabesolo wrote:If my post sounds illogical, think of it like this: you just graduated law school - you have $100,000 debt from law school, $30,000 from undergrad - you receive no offers of employment from the "big law" firms that we've all heard pay $160,000/year - compounding interest is a bitch when working against you... and then you see a website that gives the start of a business plan on opening your own solo law firm for less than $3,000 (insurance, computer, cards, etc.) .... to me, it would be most logical to give it a go. If I'm already down $130,000, have no offers of employment on the table, I would try to at least look for some low-end criminal and divorce cases.

But I obviously don't know the answers, which is why I am here looking for advice.

Regardless of my above posts on solo - you are saying that there are still plenty of jobs to go around? I ask that advice to people who are soon graduating or just graduated law school.. The ones who actually know what the market is like right now.

Thanks


I feel like you are missing something here -- it is perfectly consistent that the market can be very bad for people looking to join firms and equally bad or worse for opening a solo practice right out of law school. The people in this thread saying "don't plan on going solo" are not saying "plan on biglaw/midlaw," they're saying "if the biglaw/midlaw prospects scare you too much, don't assume the 'fallback' of going solo is any real comfort."

As for the $3000 "business plan," how are you going to get clients? Where is marketing in that budget? We live in the age of the illusion of the no-cost startup. Hell, you could write a book and self-publish too, but who would buy it? How would anyone even know it existed?

aliarrow
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby aliarrow » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:39 pm

I hate to steal resolutepear's bit, but...

--LinkRemoved--

It really is discussed here quite a bit.

There aren't 'plenty of jobs to go around', its a tough market. But you should still do whatever you can (going to a strong school) to find some sort of legal job after graduation to get experience. I personally love entrepreneurship and the whole entrepreneurial spirit, but to go solo into something like law with minimal actual practice experience just seems foolish. It's not like starting a restaurant, you really need to know what you're doing.

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AreJay711
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby AreJay711 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:42 pm

This is just the conventional wisdom but the first real issue is that law school really doesn't prepare you to go solo like that and most clients would be wary of hiring someone with NO experiance.

From a more basic end, even though you would only borrow 3k to start up your firm you would still have to pass on other income earning oppurtunities because you'd have to be available. A bs govt job that you are overqulaified for or flipping burgers or reveiwing contracts or whatever other job you could get might not be glamorous but at least you would be bringing in money and you wouldn't have to borrow more to do it. That doesn't make those better than going solo in the long run but it is probably more attractive to a lot of recent graduates that think they will find a job with just a bit more looking.

wannabesolo
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby wannabesolo » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:49 pm

Again, I do understand what these folks are saying. Perhaps it's just a difference in demographics. In my area, most lawyers are visited by referal-based clients.

So for example, [not saying I'd do this, just saying] if a new lawyer set up a small office in the "town square," maybe the first few weeks they'd get no one at all. Maybe week 1 of the second month a DUI client walks in... A new attorney with fire in his belly may handle the case well, leading that DUI client to refer the new lawyer to a friend when the friend has a DUI. Likewise for petty crimes, divorce, etc.

So sure, my thought may be illogical, or maybe you just don't have the spirit to own a business - or a bit of both.

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Pleasye
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby Pleasye » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:55 pm

wannabesolo wrote:Again, I do understand what these folks are saying. Perhaps it's just a difference in demographics. In my area, most lawyers are visited by referal-based clients.

This is exactly the point that everybody is trying to make ITT. Straight out of law school you will have no experience and no client base. There will be no one to refer you.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:55 pm

wannabesolo wrote:
So for example, [not saying I'd do this, just saying] if a new lawyer set up a small office in the "town square," maybe the first few weeks they'd get no one at all. Maybe week 1 of the second month a DUI client walks in... A new attorney with fire in his belly may handle the case well, leading that DUI client to refer the new lawyer to a friend when the friend has a DUI. Likewise for petty crimes, divorce, etc.

So sure, my thought may be illogical, or maybe you just don't have the spirit to own a business - or a bit of both.


Ok, and where do you get the money for the premium rent on that town square office space, assuming you can even get the landlord to lease it to you? Do you have the startup capital to stick it out for 18 months of inadequate billings before things pick up? Because if you don't think this is the reality I'd say it's YOU who lacks the spirit to own a business.

wannabesolo
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby wannabesolo » Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:57 pm

Pleasye wrote:
wannabesolo wrote:Again, I do understand what these folks are saying. Perhaps it's just a difference in demographics. In my area, most lawyers are visited by referal-based clients.

This is exactly the point that everybody is trying to make ITT. Straight out of law school you will have no experience and no client base. There will be no one to refer you.



As I said, though. One person comes in one week.. you do a good job for him, and HE refers you.

That's the point I was trying to make...

NO business starts with a lot of referals... you have to earn them. You could open a small diner, and if people like your food they tell their friends. Why wouldn't the same be true in law?

I'm not trying to get in an argument about this anyways; I was simply trying to find out some more info on law school to solo (since the rest of law jobs seem to be gone).

wannabesolo
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby wannabesolo » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:00 am

blsingindisguise wrote:
wannabesolo wrote:
So for example, [not saying I'd do this, just saying] if a new lawyer set up a small office in the "town square," maybe the first few weeks they'd get no one at all. Maybe week 1 of the second month a DUI client walks in... A new attorney with fire in his belly may handle the case well, leading that DUI client to refer the new lawyer to a friend when the friend has a DUI. Likewise for petty crimes, divorce, etc.

So sure, my thought may be illogical, or maybe you just don't have the spirit to own a business - or a bit of both.


Ok, and where do you get the money for the premium rent on that town square office space, assuming you can even get the landlord to lease it to you? Do you have the startup capital to stick it out for 18 months of inadequate billings before things pick up? Because if you don't think this is the reality I'd say it's YOU who lacks the spirit to own a business.



Obviously I wouldn't start a business without the funds to do it -- that includes legal or non-legal. Not only would I not do it, I couldn't do it; space owners don't rent for free, and if you are aware of current politics, the SBA is a joke.

aliarrow
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby aliarrow » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:02 am

wannabesolo wrote:
Pleasye wrote:
wannabesolo wrote:Again, I do understand what these folks are saying. Perhaps it's just a difference in demographics. In my area, most lawyers are visited by referal-based clients.

This is exactly the point that everybody is trying to make ITT. Straight out of law school you will have no experience and no client base. There will be no one to refer you.



As I said, though. One person comes in one week.. you do a good job for him, and HE refers you.

That's the point I was trying to make...

NO business starts with a lot of referals... you have to earn them. You could open a small diner, and if people like your food they tell their friends. Why wouldn't the same be true in law?

I'm not trying to get in an argument about this anyways; I was simply trying to find out some more info on law school to solo (since the rest of law jobs seem to be gone).


This isn't really true, especially for law. The solos I've spoken to have already acquired clients through their contacts from when they practiced for another firm/business.

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Pleasye
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby Pleasye » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:03 am

wannabesolo wrote:As I said, though. One person comes in one week.. you do a good job for him, and HE refers you.

That's the point I was trying to make...

NO business starts with a lot of referals... you have to earn them. You could open a small diner, and if people like your food they tell their friends. Why wouldn't the same be true in law?

I'm not trying to get in an argument about this anyways; I was simply trying to find out some more info on law school to solo (since the rest of law jobs seem to be gone).

I'm not trying to argue either :). I just feel like you're ignoring the point that everyone is trying to make...

Businesses start with money, which you won't have straight out of law school.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby blsingindisguise » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:03 am

wannabesolo wrote:

NO business starts with a lot of referals... you have to earn them. You could open a small diner, and if people like your food they tell their friends. Why wouldn't the same be true in law?



Ok, you're flaming us, right? Yeah, word of mouth for a DINER works pretty much the same way as a law firm. "Hey I tried that new law firm the other day, it was really good" "Oh, awesome, I'll try it next week, I was planning on driving drunk."

wannabesolo
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby wannabesolo » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:07 am

blsingindisguise wrote:
wannabesolo wrote:

NO business starts with a lot of referals... you have to earn them. You could open a small diner, and if people like your food they tell their friends. Why wouldn't the same be true in law?



Ok, you're flaming us, right? Yeah, word of mouth for a DINER works pretty much the same way as a law firm. "Hey I tried that new law firm the other day, it was really good" "Oh, awesome, I'll try it next week, I was planning on driving drunk."


I can see why you never went solo.

Because in reality, it is just about the same.

Have you ever had a friend/family member with a DUI? Have you ever had a friend/family member with a divorce? criminal charge? etc.

If so then you would know, that if you had a good lawyer your friend/family member would likely use them too.

Sure the friend/family member may not have a DUI for 5 more years. . . but word of mouth spreads exponetially.

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Stringer Bell
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby Stringer Bell » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:13 am

aliarrow wrote: It's not like starting a restaurant, you really need to know what you're doing.


Experience is pretty necessary to start many types of restaurants and be successful.

Also, I'm pretty sure OP is a flame.

wannabesolo
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby wannabesolo » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:15 am

Stringer Bell wrote:
aliarrow wrote: It's not like starting a restaurant, you really need to know what you're doing.


Experience is pretty necessary to start many types of restaurants and be successful.

Also, I'm pretty sure OP is a flame.


+1

aliarrow
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Re: Is business bad for solo attorneys? Solo vs. Big law

Postby aliarrow » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:16 am

wannabesolo wrote:I can see why you never went solo.

Because in reality, it is just about the same.

Have you ever had a friend/family member with a DUI? Have you ever had a friend/family member with a divorce? criminal charge? etc.

If so then you would know, that if you had a good lawyer your friend/family member would likely use them too.

Sure the friend/family member may not have a DUI for 5 more years. . . but word of mouth spreads exponetially.


In my life I think I've known one person who needed a lawyer once. Even if I did somehow know a perpetual drunk who gets a DUI every now and then, and has other drunk friends who all go out DUI-ing every 5 years, a 5 year rate of spreading isn't what I'd call "exponential". Especially since its DUI. I don't think your fine, inexperienced legal services will be so superb I'll take it upon myself to get shitfaced and drive every other week just so I can keep coming back.

I don't even know why I'm buying into this flame.




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