Solo Practice Q&A

(Advantages vs Disadvantages, Hours and Compensation, Career Growth Potential, Company Culture, Getting Hired, Types of Practices- general vs specialty vs complementary, Small & Midsized Firm reviews & experiences)
Jinjuice

New
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:17 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Jinjuice » Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:18 pm

Has anyone here claimed their AVVO profile? Is that a good tool to use to market yourself better?

Also thanks for the advice again AV

nixy

Gold
Posts: 2320
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by nixy » Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:41 pm

AVBucks4239 wrote:
nixy wrote:This is an honest question, not meant as snark - if you’re a solo, can’t you just meet someone else after hours and then not work the next morning (or part of) to make up for it? Is it really after hours when you set your own?
Yes, you can meet whenever and make adjustments to your schedule. I've certainly met after hours before.

The big thing, though, is setting boundaries, and doing too many after-hours/weekend appointments will kill your schedule. Clients will assume, "Oh, he's a solo, he's available whenever, he met me at 6:30 on a Thursday night."

You need to make them shut up with that nonsense right away. And you tell the client this right up front. "I made a special exception to bring you in, but I have a wife and four month old at home, and I have my own life, so here's how I operate. No calls or emails after 5:00. No calls or emails on the weekend unless it's absolutely necessary. I return emails and calls within one business day."

Once you create these expectations they roll with it.
Oh, that makes total sense, thanks for clarifying. I like how up front you are about it.

(Basically I get not meeting after hours unless absolutely necessary/or crisis, or meeting after hours and changing your own hours around, I was just confused by meeting after hours and maintaining banker’s hours.)

Aptitude

New
Posts: 92
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Aptitude » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:41 pm

nixy wrote:
AVBucks4239 wrote:
nixy wrote:This is an honest question, not meant as snark - if you’re a solo, can’t you just meet someone else after hours and then not work the next morning (or part of) to make up for it? Is it really after hours when you set your own?
Yes, you can meet whenever and make adjustments to your schedule. I've certainly met after hours before.

The big thing, though, is setting boundaries, and doing too many after-hours/weekend appointments will kill your schedule. Clients will assume, "Oh, he's a solo, he's available whenever, he met me at 6:30 on a Thursday night."

You need to make them shut up with that nonsense right away. And you tell the client this right up front. "I made a special exception to bring you in, but I have a wife and four month old at home, and I have my own life, so here's how I operate. No calls or emails after 5:00. No calls or emails on the weekend unless it's absolutely necessary. I return emails and calls within one business day."

Once you create these expectations they roll with it.
Oh, that makes total sense, thanks for clarifying. I like how up front you are about it.

(Basically I get not meeting after hours unless absolutely necessary/or crisis, or meeting after hours and changing your own hours around, I was just confused by meeting after hours and maintaining banker’s hours.)
I feel like the oversupply of Estate Planning attorneys have made meeting on weekends almost mandatory, unless you're one of those attorneys in their 60s, 70s who's just very financially comfortable. I meet young attorneys, at big and small firms who work 7 days a week. Since a lot of the matters are so small, they need to in-take new clients.

nixy

Gold
Posts: 2320
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by nixy » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:44 pm

That makes sense too. Thanks for the info.

Anonesq

New
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:16 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Anonesq » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:51 pm

Jinjuice wrote:Has anyone here claimed their AVVO profile? Is that a good tool to use to market yourself better?

Also thanks for the advice again AV

I claimed my Avvo profile but I don’t expect to get any business from it at all.

Want to continue reading?

Register now to search topics and post comments!

Absolutely FREE!


Jinjuice

New
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:17 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Jinjuice » Sun Aug 04, 2019 9:22 pm

Checking in.

Just got in touch with a friend who recommended my CDO. Anyone looking to start get in touch with CDO. My CDO gives new solo practitioners a scholarship to start their firm as well as a 10 session mentorship with another solo.

I graduated from University of Houston Law Center just last year. They do it. Not sure if every school does. Good luck.

Jinjuice

New
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:17 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Jinjuice » Mon Aug 05, 2019 4:40 pm

Got a good guide that is about 200 pages issued in 2018 from the law center as well. has all the info. needed as well to go solo including issues, etc and ideas. Part of the scholarship program. Can't post here. PM me, and I will share if anyone needs.

Anonesq

New
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:16 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Anonesq » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:40 pm

Couple more questions AV Bucks-

1) do you use software for trust accounting? Or should I just keep track of everything with excel?

2) this is more of a comment rather than a question. I tried google ads a couple days ago and already got a few calls. Will be meeting a PC soon. So idk I may keep going with this and see how it goes.

Thanks.

Jinjuice

New
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:17 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Jinjuice » Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:56 pm

Wtf happened to this site?

Anyways, sup d00d.

Finally started a PLLC in my state and got a client already. How the fuck do I deal with insurance adjusters who won’t answer my call and reply to my letter of rep?

This is a good client who really needs help.

Want to continue reading?

Register for access!

Did I mention it was FREE ?


User avatar
AVBucks4239

Silver
Posts: 1095
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by AVBucks4239 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:46 pm

Anonesq wrote:Couple more questions AV Bucks-

1) do you use software for trust accounting? Or should I just keep track of everything with excel?

2) this is more of a comment rather than a question. I tried google ads a couple days ago and already got a few calls. Will be meeting a PC soon. So idk I may keep going with this and see how it goes.

Thanks.
I use Google Sheets to reconcile my IOLTA. It's pretty much common sense, but make sure you know the balance for each client.

User avatar
AVBucks4239

Silver
Posts: 1095
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by AVBucks4239 » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:54 pm

Jinjuice wrote:Wtf happened to this site?

Anyways, sup d00d.

Finally started a PLLC in my state and got a client already. How the fuck do I deal with insurance adjusters who won’t answer my call and reply to my letter of rep?

This is a good client who really needs help.
If this is a personal injury, file suit yesterday and stop wasting time.

LockBox

Bronze
Posts: 480
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:05 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by LockBox » Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:06 pm

AV, any advice for anyone out there currently at a firm but considering going out on their own? Things you wish you had done, but didn't? Thanks!

Jinjuice

New
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2016 10:17 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Jinjuice » Tue Oct 22, 2019 11:02 am

Thanks AV. Getting clients sucks. How are you marketing?

Register now!

Resources to assist law school applicants, students & graduates.

It's still FREE!


Anonesq

New
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:16 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Anonesq » Fri Jan 31, 2020 8:35 pm

Want to bring back this thread.

I have been a solo now for 6-7 months...My real estate practice is getting busier.

Anonymous User
Posts: 344924
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:07 pm

AVBucks4239 wrote:
Anonesq wrote:Couple more questions AV Bucks-

1) do you use software for trust accounting? Or should I just keep track of everything with excel?

2) this is more of a comment rather than a question. I tried google ads a couple days ago and already got a few calls. Will be meeting a PC soon. So idk I may keep going with this and see how it goes.

Thanks.
I use Google Sheets to reconcile my IOLTA. It's pretty much common sense, but make sure you know the balance for each client.
Hi AV- Hope all is well. When did you decide to lease an office space? Honestly I enjoy keeping overhead very low and don’t foresee leasing an office anytime soon. If I need to meet a client my virtual office space has conference rooms I can rent for $15-20 an hour. Thanks.

FND

Bronze
Posts: 318
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:23 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by FND » Sat Feb 01, 2020 10:00 pm

LockBox wrote:AV, any advice for anyone out there currently at a firm but considering going out on their own? Things you wish you had done, but didn't? Thanks!
not AV, still a solo.

The most important thing you can do before going out on your own is getting business. Build up your referral sources, make connections, so that when you start, you will have clients coming in the door.

Second most important: make copies of at least one of every kind of file you can get your hands on, including matters that are not your practice area. Having templates or samples you can copy will save you a lot of time. Particularly something unusual, like a Qualified Domestic Trust.*
Pro-tip: if you ever need to do something new, look for public filings, and steal from the best. For corporate matters, I look for SEC filings from well-known companies. For litigation, look up recent cases in the same jurisdiction.

*don't provide a client with a DQOT if you don't have experience with estate planning (or someone who can guide you). But you never know when it might come in handy in the future.
Also, my experience with formbooks and manuals & stuff is that the quality is mediocre at best. When I drafted my templates, I looked at every source I could find, form books, samples from other solos, samples from biglaw, whatever I could get my hands on. I read them through and through, took what I liked, changed wording I didn't, and made sure that I knew my documents inside and out.

FND

Bronze
Posts: 318
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:23 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by FND » Sat Feb 01, 2020 10:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi AV- Hope all is well. When did you decide to lease an office space? Honestly I enjoy keeping overhead very low and don’t foresee leasing an office anytime soon. If I need to meet a client my virtual office space has conference rooms I can rent for $15-20 an hour. Thanks.
Can't answer for Bucks, but as a solo I rented office space day one, for two reasons:
1) I'm a lot more efficient at the office than at home. At home I have pets, children, and other distractions. At the office, I'm in a different mental state. I also found when I was working from home that my better half didn't understand why I wasn't cleaning or doing laundry, or whatever.
2) With my practice area, it makes a lot of sense. I spend a significant amount of time meeting with (prospective) clients, and I have the environment under complete control. Everything the client sees is there on purpose, from the positioning of the certificates/diplomas/admissions on the wall, to the family pictures, to every last item on my desk, it's meant to convey a message or start a conversation.

On the other hand, an office space is a luxury. If you don't need it, don't bother.
(but check whether your state has a bona fide office requirement)

Get unlimited access to all forums and topics

Register now!

I'm pretty sure I told you it's FREE...


User avatar
AVBucks4239

Silver
Posts: 1095
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by AVBucks4239 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 1:11 pm

Sorry that I missed this thread.
LockBox wrote:AV, any advice for anyone out there currently at a firm but considering going out on their own? Things you wish you had done, but didn't? Thanks!
There are three things you need to do:

(1) Save money. I saved $20,000 before I opened (took a while) to make sure I was not pressured to take on bad clients and bad cases when I was out on my own.

(2) Create a business plan. I tinkered with mine for probably 12-18 months (on and off). Everything is window dressing except (a) knowing your revenue sources, (b) knowing your mentors, and (c) knowing your referral sources. All of these relate to revenue; you can figure everything else out as it goes. You also probably want to have a plan in place to office somewhere; just meet with other solos about this.

(3) Plan to leave with class. I just got a referral from a partner at my old firm on a big construction case (firm had a conflict with one of the subs). $10,000 retainer. It's mostly because I left on very good terms.

I can expand on these if you'd like.

User avatar
AVBucks4239

Silver
Posts: 1095
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by AVBucks4239 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 1:14 pm

Jinjuice wrote:Thanks AV. Getting clients sucks. How are you marketing?
I've never spent a cent on marketing. I make it a huge point to go out and meet people. I'm on my county bar association's social committee and grievance committee. I'm also in a federal bar association. I also go out to lunch all the time with other lawyers and guys my age.

Having referral sources is really important. Look at the Divorce Discourse Networking 101 program/presentation. It's really good.

Basically just put yourself out there; over and over and over. Lawyers and non-lawyers, but especially other lawyers. They will throw you cases.

***

Also, as I've stated several other times, there a bunch of other revenue sources (GAL work, appearance work, criminal appointment list, flat fee work online, etc.). Nothing is beneath you until you have a good revenue stream.

User avatar
AVBucks4239

Silver
Posts: 1095
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:37 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by AVBucks4239 » Mon Feb 03, 2020 1:17 pm

FND wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Hi AV- Hope all is well. When did you decide to lease an office space? Honestly I enjoy keeping overhead very low and don’t foresee leasing an office anytime soon. If I need to meet a client my virtual office space has conference rooms I can rent for $15-20 an hour. Thanks.
Can't answer for Bucks, but as a solo I rented office space day one, for two reasons:
1) I'm a lot more efficient at the office than at home. At home I have pets, children, and other distractions. At the office, I'm in a different mental state. I also found when I was working from home that my better half didn't understand why I wasn't cleaning or doing laundry, or whatever.
2) With my practice area, it makes a lot of sense. I spend a significant amount of time meeting with (prospective) clients, and I have the environment under complete control. Everything the client sees is there on purpose, from the positioning of the certificates/diplomas/admissions on the wall, to the family pictures, to every last item on my desk, it's meant to convey a message or start a conversation.

On the other hand, an office space is a luxury. If you don't need it, don't bother.
(but check whether your state has a bona fide office requirement)
I agree with all of this. I had office space from day one because I am more productive at the office, because it is better to meet clients, etc.

In all honesty, I just bought a new house that has a really, really nice home office. So I tried meeting with a couple new clients at public places, like Panera or the courthouse or at a nice lunch spot, and then thinking I could do my work at my home office. Maybe it was just circumstance, but I went 0/3 closing on these clients.

It's so, so, so much easier to close at an office. Have a good discussion, then print the fee agreement right there, have them sign and give you a check right there. That's really, really hard when you're in a public setting. And once they leave, they have time to think about it, and they probably will now try to DIY or call another lawyer.

All this said, be smart about your space. I highly recommend an office share *with other lawyers.* They will give you advice, refer you work, and be a huge resource.

LockBox

Bronze
Posts: 480
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:05 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by LockBox » Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:54 pm

Thank you all for the replies. Oddly enough, I've gone solo since the beginning of the year but have heeded most of the advice here despite not having had read it until today.

Communicate now with those who not only know what a legal education is, but can offer you worthy advice and commentary as you complete the three most educational, yet challenging years of your law related post graduate life.

Register now, it's still FREE!


Anonesq

New
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:16 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Anonesq » Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:41 pm

Hi all- Thanks again for all of this advice. I have been following most of it. My real estate practice has been ramping up but now I’m a bit concerned with this coronavirus outbreak. I have several closings that need to take place within 3-4 weeks. Should I be prepared for delays/ a slow down in legal work? I plan on ramping up my advertising efforts because of social distancing. Let me know your thoughts. A lot can change in a few weeks and I’m praying life goes back to normal soon.

Thanks.

lacorplawyer

New
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2020 4:05 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by lacorplawyer » Tue Apr 28, 2020 4:32 pm

Where do you guys find your backup attorneys?

Most of my friends are in biglaw and have no interest. I don't really network and don't really know many people in my field.

Jaydee

New
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 pm

Re: Solo Practice Q&A

Post by Jaydee » Sun May 10, 2020 3:31 pm

lacorplawyer wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 4:32 pm
Where do you guys find your backup attorneys?

Most of my friends are in biglaw and have no interest. I don't really network and don't really know many people in my field.
Are you just looking for coverage? I used to pay another attorney $300 to cover my cases when I had conflicts. Now I use Cover Me. Last time I used them I paid $100. This was in NYC, too. I mean, I wouldn't use them to argue a motion but if you just need a warm body to get an adjournment, etc. then you can't beat their prices.

I also pay someone I met on Cover Me about $100 an hour to cover more complicated cases; the last time I used him he ended up going to a mediation session. I just gave him instructions to not settle for less than X. Any issues come up then they call you. Ended up working out well since client was happy.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

Now there's a charge.
Just kidding ... it's still FREE!


Post Reply Post Anonymous Reply  

Return to “Small & Midsized Firms”