How I Launched My Startup (Law Firm)

I’m often contacted by lawyers for advice about going solo. In the legal world, going solo is the equivalent of quitting your day job and launching your startup full-time. So I’m dedicating this blog post to provide some background about how I launched my startup law firm. I know many of you aren’t lawyers but hopefully some of the advice might be helpful.

Background

I launched my startup 2 years ago. I refer to my law firm as a startup because I run it like one, except for the fact I can’t raise capital. The concept of bootstrapping and working in a startup wasn’t new to me–I had just left a startup company. (Long story for another day)

How did you choose your law firm’s location?

I selected my law firm’s location based on what I’ve dubbed the “Cheesecake Factory Principle.” Growing up in California, I noticed that the Cheesecake Factory always opened their restaurants in thriving business areas. Thus, I decided to open my law firm in Southlake, Texas, a suburb of Dallas and also home to a new Cheesecake Factory. I figured I would just borrow the Cheesecake Factory’s R&D on Southlake and move on to other decisions. The point is–don’t pay for or waste time on finding answers to questions that have already been answered for you by others.

What type of office do you have?

I started out in a mid-range executive suite and have since moved to one with a better location and conference room. I have intentionally avoided signing any type of long term lease (12+ months) because I feel flexibility is key in your first 2-3 years as solo. You might need 3 offices next year, or what you thought was a great location might not be that great 6 months later.

How do you market your law firm?

Before I started out, I was warned by an older attorney that I wouldn’t be able to go out on my own because I couldn’t afford the overhead expenses like yellow page advertising. Yellow pages? The last time I saw one of those books it was being torn in half by The Power Team in my high school’s auditorium. Forget about large marketing expenses and bootstrap your law firm’s marketing. If you are going to spend, do it on your business cards and website (and when I say “website” I mean blog used as a website)

How important is technology?

Use technology to your advantage. Afraid of technology? Then rethink going solo. Technology is that critical to a solo’s success. If you know how to do 2/3 of the phrases in Daft Punk’s “Technologic” you are tech savvy enough to go solo.

As lawyers, we are about 6 years behind the tech curve and that may be generous. For example, law firms are not currently interested in search engine optimization (SEO) and you can level the marketing playing field via blogs and practice area websites. For example, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a fantastic law firm with a killer venture capital practice states on its website:

We have more experienced attorneys focused on representing start-up companies seeking venture capital financing than any other law firm

Well Google doesn’t think so. I googled “venture capital lawyers” and stopped looking for a Wilson Sonsini URL after the 10th page.

How did I select practice areas?

I’m a big believer in focusing in on one or two (if both are related) areas of law. If your practice areas look like a laundry list of legal areas, you run the risk of becoming a jack of all trades, master of none. While difficult, resist the urge to cast a wide net for potential clients. The more I have reduced my areas of practice, the better the practice has done in terms of both revenue and clientele.

What would I do different?

React quicker. I saw a t-shirt at the mall recently that said “Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow.” I felt like buying one just to tack to my wall. As a solo, you can change every part of your law firm quicker than any larger firm. Use this to your advantage.

2010 Update: I realize having a web presence is vital to launching a law practice. But don’t get suckered into (over)paying Lexis, Westlaw, or Findlaw for a bad template website and/or blog. Find a web developer/designer who actually understands web design and social media. I used Dave Onkels for this site and proudly recommend him.

Tags: bootstrapping, law firm, startup

76 Responses to “How I Launched My Startup (Law Firm)”

  1. Laurie/Halo Secretar September 25, 2008 at 10:23 pm #

    Saw a post about you over on Susan Cartier Liebel's blog. Loved this post because while it's totally accurate for lawyers, it also has great points for any of us working on our startups. Take care!

  2. Laurie/Halo Secretar September 25, 2008 at 5:23 pm #

    Saw a post about you over on Susan Cartier Liebel's blog. Loved this post because while it's totally accurate for lawyers, it also has great points for any of us working on our startups. Take care!

  3. Ryan Roberts September 30, 2008 at 5:40 pm #

    Thanks Laurie.

  4. Ryan Roberts September 30, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    Thanks Laurie.

  5. Joanna October 2, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    Inspirational and practical. Am now starting out all the way in Guyana, South America.

  6. Joanna October 2, 2008 at 6:41 am #

    Inspirational and practical. Am now starting out all the way in Guyana, South America.

  7. Ryan Roberts October 2, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    Thanks Joanna. Good luck on your startup.

  8. Ryan Roberts October 2, 2008 at 7:00 am #

    Thanks Joanna. Good luck on your startup.

  9. Natalie Davis December 1, 2008 at 11:03 pm #

    I will be coming out soon(U of Milwaukee),looking at my options. This has helped… Thanks

  10. Natalie Davis December 1, 2008 at 6:03 pm #

    I will be coming out soon(U of Milwaukee),looking at my options. This has helped… Thanks

  11. Ryan Roberts December 15, 2008 at 5:02 pm #

    Thanks Natalie. Just remember life gets better after bar/bri.

  12. Ryan Roberts December 15, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

    Thanks Natalie. Just remember life gets better after bar/bri.

  13. Carlton January 2, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    Hi Ryan. I am a lawyer with about 6 1/2 years of varied experience. From the federal clerkship to local government practice to working for one of the big four in hedge fund compliance. Through it all, I am still unsatisfied and uninsphired. As such, I have decided to go out on my own.

    My question is this, although I would love to represent big business in transactional matters, I have no tangible idea how to attract businesses to my firm. Do you have any tips on rainmaking and getting a few companies interested? Thanks!

  14. Carlton January 2, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    Hi Ryan. I am a lawyer with about 6 1/2 years of varied experience. From the federal clerkship to local government practice to working for one of the big four in hedge fund compliance. Through it all, I am still unsatisfied and uninsphired. As such, I have decided to go out on my own.

    My question is this, although I would love to represent big business in transactional matters, I have no tangible idea how to attract businesses to my firm. Do you have any tips on rainmaking and getting a few companies interested? Thanks!

  15. Ryan Roberts January 4, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    Carlton,

    I really don't have any advice on how to attract 'big business' other than they aren't the only type of client out there…and they may be as archaic in choosing a firm as how archaic the firm they typically use practices law. Let them dance their slow dance and find someone else to boogie with.

  16. Ryan Roberts January 4, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

    Carlton,

    I really don't have any advice on how to attract 'big business' other than they aren't the only type of client out there…and they may be as archaic in choosing a firm as how archaic the firm they typically use practices law. Let them dance their slow dance and find someone else to boogie with.

  17. Amy February 20, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    Stumbled on this blog and it was like a cup of the most magnificent coffee after a really long, anxiety filled night. Thank you so much. I have to agree with Carlton's comment. I've been practicing for seven years and now that I'm out on my own (for the past 2 weeks) I actually wake up and jump out of bed in the morning. First time in many, many years.

  18. Amy February 20, 2009 at 4:35 am #

    Stumbled on this blog and it was like a cup of the most magnificent coffee after a really long, anxiety filled night. Thank you so much. I have to agree with Carlton's comment. I've been practicing for seven years and now that I'm out on my own (for the past 2 weeks) I actually wake up and jump out of bed in the morning. First time in many, many years.

  19. Ken February 21, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi folks,
    I think this is a great blog, and I just have one question I'm sure we are all familiar with.
    As a new lawyer I find I would like to go out on my own but have discovered much to my dismay law schools don't seem to teach you things like how to take a case from intake to final disposition. How do you draft a complaint? How do you file motions, (and which motions), and when? etc…etc…
    Any advice on where to find this wealth of information?

    Thanks!

    • Jon January 18, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

      I'm a new lawyer facing the same problem of what to file and how to file it. I've found the local law library to be a tremendous resource, and most of the time the librarians are so bored that they give you more information than you can handle. Also simply asking other attorneys and court clerks is extremely useful.

  20. Ken February 21, 2009 at 7:01 am #

    Hi folks,
    I think this is a great blog, and I just have one question I'm sure we are all familiar with.
    As a new lawyer I find I would like to go out on my own but have discovered much to my dismay law schools don't seem to teach you things like how to take a case from intake to final disposition. How do you draft a complaint? How do you file motions, (and which motions), and when? etc…etc…
    Any advice on where to find this wealth of information?

    Thanks!

    • Jon January 18, 2010 at 7:12 am #

      I'm a new lawyer facing the same problem of what to file and how to file it. I've found the local law library to be a tremendous resource, and most of the time the librarians are so bored that they give you more information than you can handle. Also simply asking other attorneys and court clerks is extremely useful.

    • Lou November 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

      Excellent question. I use the annotated court rules of procedure and cross reference them with the relevant statutes and case law to develop my own forms. Takes a while, at first, but it really gives you a strong competitive advantage in the courtroom by forcing you to learn the ins and outs of a particular practice area. After a few months you get to build up a nice forms bank and lots of knowledge. Some bar organizations make the rules and statutes available for free or link you to reliable cites where you can download them for free. Don’t rely too much on rules of procedure books that have forms in the back of them, they are often out dated.

  21. Asim May 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    I echo the Inspirational & Practical comment. Newbies in the embryonic stage, like me, are so grateful (or should be).

  22. Asim May 5, 2009 at 9:26 am #

    I echo the Inspirational & Practical comment. Newbies in the embryonic stage, like me, are so grateful (or should be).

  23. Gordon May 12, 2009 at 6:37 pm #

    1, So, what's the best way of chosing an area of practice? You wrote that it's best to focus on one or two, but how do you know which? I assume it would be wisest to pick an area with more clients needing assistance than there are lawyers to meet the needs. . . or something akin to it, but how can you identify those areas?

    2. Fill in the blank: Newbies should be prepared to tough it out for __ years as that's how long it's likely to take until the solo practice becomes profitable.

  24. Gordon May 12, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    1, So, what's the best way of chosing an area of practice? You wrote that it's best to focus on one or two, but how do you know which? I assume it would be wisest to pick an area with more clients needing assistance than there are lawyers to meet the needs. . . or something akin to it, but how can you identify those areas?

    2. Fill in the blank: Newbies should be prepared to tough it out for __ years as that's how long it's likely to take until the solo practice becomes profitable.

  25. Ryan Roberts May 12, 2009 at 6:48 pm #

    Gordon-

    1. I think you have to pick an area that you actually like (that's why I don't do litigation, estate planning, family law, divorce, etc.). Stay away from choosing a "hot" area and choose an area that isn't entirely cyclical or prone to ups and downs.

    2. I'd feel comfortable with 2 years. Ultra-comfortable with 3 years. Just remember that profitable can depend on your expenses. Cut them (both personal and law firm) and that can be 1 year.

  26. Ryan Roberts May 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

    Gordon-

    1. I think you have to pick an area that you actually like (that's why I don't do litigation, estate planning, family law, divorce, etc.). Stay away from choosing a "hot" area and choose an area that isn't entirely cyclical or prone to ups and downs.

    2. I'd feel comfortable with 2 years. Ultra-comfortable with 3 years. Just remember that profitable can depend on your expenses. Cut them (both personal and law firm) and that can be 1 year.

  27. Gordon May 14, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    Thank you.

  28. Gordon May 14, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    Thank you.

  29. Gordon May 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    Re: Ken's 2/21/09 question about learning the litigation process from intake to final disposition: CEB in California (http://ceb.com/) has a tremendous number of desk references and practice guides that could help. I relocated to a much less populous state and, after some 15+ years of litigating in CA, am almost starting from scratch. There are relatively few desk references/study guides here. Ask your law librarian to help chase down some helpful materials then see whether you can get a mentor through the local bar association. I'd volunteer, but the assistance I could provide would simply be an outline – although I might be able to gin up a preliminary bibliography. You need someone in your jurisdiction.

  30. Gordon May 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    Re: Ken's 2/21/09 question about learning the litigation process from intake to final disposition: CEB in California (http://ceb.com/) has a tremendous number of desk references and practice guides that could help. I relocated to a much less populous state and, after some 15+ years of litigating in CA, am almost starting from scratch. There are relatively few desk references/study guides here. Ask your law librarian to help chase down some helpful materials then see whether you can get a mentor through the local bar association. I'd volunteer, but the assistance I could provide would simply be an outline – although I might be able to gin up a preliminary bibliography. You need someone in your jurisdiction.

  31. George Grellas June 7, 2009 at 9:57 am #

    Ryan – your points are excellent and I would second the point about being resourceful in relation to what other lawyers are doing – 25 years ago, in Silicon Valley, I did use the Yellow Pages at a time when business lawyers were too snooty to advertise at all – and I got a steady stream of quality, engineer-driven startups for well over a decade from this sort of advertising, at least one of which eventually turned into a $3B company. I don't use the Yellow Pages today (I use tech-driven marketing, as you do) but it was great to have a monopoly in that area for 15 years in the middle of Silicon Valley while the other business lawyers slept. This has helped me build a boutique tech startup firm with a strong presence in the Valley.

    The key is to stay alert to current ways of letting prospective clients know who you and what you do (and, yes, stay "strongly typed," to borrow a phrase from the engineers – if you are scattered in your business focus, you will never be seen as a leader in your niche). Thanks for your consistently good posts.

  32. George Grellas June 7, 2009 at 4:57 am #

    Ryan – your points are excellent and I would second the point about being resourceful in relation to what other lawyers are doing – 25 years ago, in Silicon Valley, I did use the Yellow Pages at a time when business lawyers were too snooty to advertise at all – and I got a steady stream of quality, engineer-driven startups for well over a decade from this sort of advertising, at least one of which eventually turned into a $3B company. I don't use the Yellow Pages today (I use tech-driven marketing, as you do) but it was great to have a monopoly in that area for 15 years in the middle of Silicon Valley while the other business lawyers slept. This has helped me build a boutique tech startup firm with a strong presence in the Valley.

    The key is to stay alert to current ways of letting prospective clients know who you and what you do (and, yes, stay "strongly typed," to borrow a phrase from the engineers – if you are scattered in your business focus, you will never be seen as a leader in your niche). Thanks for your consistently good posts.

  33. Stewart June 7, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    Ryan,

    any suggestions for starting firm in your 50's ?
    1) pick 2-3 area, get pratice guides from the Law library,

    points about working out of your house?

  34. Stewart June 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    Ryan,

    any suggestions for starting firm in your 50's ?
    1) pick 2-3 area, get pratice guides from the Law library,

    points about working out of your house?

  35. Ryan Roberts June 9, 2009 at 6:32 am #

    Stewart,

    If possible I would work out of the house for at least the first 12 months. Even if you strike a good deal on an executive suite, that could still be $5-$7k in cash flow when you might not have a lot of work.

    The problem with working at home is two-fold:

    (1) It can be difficult to get work done (disturbances), and
    (2) Client perception.

  36. Ryan Roberts June 9, 2009 at 1:32 am #

    Stewart,

    If possible I would work out of the house for at least the first 12 months. Even if you strike a good deal on an executive suite, that could still be $5-$7k in cash flow when you might not have a lot of work.

    The problem with working at home is two-fold:

    (1) It can be difficult to get work done (disturbances), and
    (2) Client perception.

  37. Jessica June 25, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

    Hi there
    I have just been sworn in and struggle with opening my own firm…do you think its best I stay at a firm for "x" amount of years before going it solo or do you think its how comfortable I feel?
    Thanks, the information posted is very helpful.

  38. Jessica June 25, 2009 at 4:45 pm #

    Hi there
    I have just been sworn in and struggle with opening my own firm…do you think its best I stay at a firm for "x" amount of years before going it solo or do you think its how comfortable I feel?
    Thanks, the information posted is very helpful.

    • Lou November 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

      AAahhhhhh! Do not open a law firm fresh out of law school! Learn from my mistake! You learn so much from taking a job at a firm or from working as a government lawyer. I.e., how to carefully screen clients, how to get rid of bad clients, how to ensure payment of your bill when good clients go bad, how to hire competent support staff, how to handle a high volume caseload, how to handle yourself in court, etc. These are things you won’t learn from books. Do one or two years at a law firm or government office. Choose wisely if you’re going to a law firm. Make sure you get along with the seniors and partners, some of them burn out associates within months. I’d check the web for past employment ads run by the same firm, if you see them posting too many over a short period of time, its a burn out firm. Another webiste is glass house, which contains posts by former employees for some law firms. Working at a private or government firm also gives the opportunity to save money for start up costs and to develop professional relationships with judges and lawyers.

  39. Elizabeth August 19, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    Ryan,

    Thanks for a brilliant blog. I'm on the cusp of going out on my own and was delighted to see the helpful hints here. I'm going to enlist the help of a twentysomething for your idea about a blog for a firm website.

    A comment for Ken (a post back in February): I agree that law school taught us very little practical things, like filing petitions and answers and motions. Taking a year to clerk at an appellate court is the perfect way to really "get" what lawyers do from a practical standpoint. You'll see cases from petition to final judgment. You'll be the person making sure everything was done properly.

    If that's not an option for you, consider getting to know your local clerk of court well. Most civil matters are public record. I have more than once found a case similar to mine and looked to see what other attorneys have done. Now that many clerks have entire cases online, I've even searched by attorneys I respected and read their motions.

    Find a mentor. Most older lawyers have been delighted to help me when I asked.

  40. Elizabeth August 19, 2009 at 9:53 am #

    Ryan,

    Thanks for a brilliant blog. I'm on the cusp of going out on my own and was delighted to see the helpful hints here. I'm going to enlist the help of a twentysomething for your idea about a blog for a firm website.

    A comment for Ken (a post back in February): I agree that law school taught us very little practical things, like filing petitions and answers and motions. Taking a year to clerk at an appellate court is the perfect way to really "get" what lawyers do from a practical standpoint. You'll see cases from petition to final judgment. You'll be the person making sure everything was done properly.

    If that's not an option for you, consider getting to know your local clerk of court well. Most civil matters are public record. I have more than once found a case similar to mine and looked to see what other attorneys have done. Now that many clerks have entire cases online, I've even searched by attorneys I respected and read their motions.

    Find a mentor. Most older lawyers have been delighted to help me when I asked.

  41. Josh December 23, 2009 at 10:11 pm #

    Ryan,

    Practicing lawyer of 20 years in mid 40's. In 70 lawyer firm and have my own book of defense business. Not clear how many of the clients will go with me but could walk out with 20+ files at least. What is your advice on type of office space I should look for. Paralegal would likely come with me but I would want to get revenue established first. Thanks

  42. Josh December 23, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    Ryan,

    Practicing lawyer of 20 years in mid 40's. In 70 lawyer firm and have my own book of defense business. Not clear how many of the clients will go with me but could walk out with 20+ files at least. What is your advice on type of office space I should look for. Paralegal would likely come with me but I would want to get revenue established first. Thanks

  43. Ryan Roberts December 31, 2009 at 8:41 am #

    Josh-

    You may not want to bring the paralegal with you from the start. Although I'm not sure if you need the paralegal for "witness" requirements like an estate planning attorney.

    I'd either start out with a virtual office (for 6 months or less) and then transition to an executive suite.

    I didn't start out with a book of business, so I tend to be more cautious with first year expenses. But if you don't need a paralegal (and you can get part-time or virtual paralegal work as well), that "savings" will more than off-set getting a bigger/nicer office.

    Because you have 20 years of experience, potential clients will likely be pass less judgment on your office situation. Most might be glad because they feel you aren't passing on the expensive real estate expense to them.

  44. Ryan Roberts December 31, 2009 at 3:41 am #

    Josh-

    You may not want to bring the paralegal with you from the start. Although I'm not sure if you need the paralegal for "witness" requirements like an estate planning attorney.

    I'd either start out with a virtual office (for 6 months or less) and then transition to an executive suite.

    I didn't start out with a book of business, so I tend to be more cautious with first year expenses. But if you don't need a paralegal (and you can get part-time or virtual paralegal work as well), that "savings" will more than off-set getting a bigger/nicer office.

    Because you have 20 years of experience, potential clients will likely be pass less judgment on your office situation. Most might be glad because they feel you aren't passing on the expensive real estate expense to them.

  45. Lisa January 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    Hi! I've been following the comments on here for a while and well need some advice. I've been an attorney for about a year now and am currently working for someone who has 2 practice areas and I completely feel restrained professionally and socially. I'm only practicing one area of law but to be honest I'm bored out of my mind and am thinking of going on my own. It has always been my dream because of more freedom to practice what I want, etc. The only problem is that I don't have enough saved up to go out on my own and am afraid to be caught in a situation where I can't pay bills. I don't want to go to work in the morning and have this burning desire to quit and work on my own, I just don't want to be stupid especially since I'm new to the practice and really don't have anyone to speak to for advice. Can you shed some light on this situation for me please!

    • Lou November 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

      I’d look for another job before opening a practice from scratch without any clients or start up money. Know this answer sucks, but you don’t want to be in a position where you have to pay for your bills using a credit card. Lot’s of attorneys find themselves swamped with expenses and taking on clients they hate. Save some money, keep the start up costs low, and always, always, keep detailed and accurate records of any trust accounts. Be paitent, plan carefully, and make sure you succeed the first time you go out.

  46. Lisa January 10, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    Hi! I've been following the comments on here for a while and well need some advice. I've been an attorney for about a year now and am currently working for someone who has 2 practice areas and I completely feel restrained professionally and socially. I'm only practicing one area of law but to be honest I'm bored out of my mind and am thinking of going on my own. It has always been my dream because of more freedom to practice what I want, etc. The only problem is that I don't have enough saved up to go out on my own and am afraid to be caught in a situation where I can't pay bills. I don't want to go to work in the morning and have this burning desire to quit and work on my own, I just don't want to be stupid especially since I'm new to the practice and really don't have anyone to speak to for advice. Can you shed some light on this situation for me please!

  47. cesar February 20, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    Can I start a lawfirm with an attorney? I'm not an attorney, but I want to know if I can be owner of the firm as well if I put up capital to start it. I don't want to be screwed over if I put up the capital for it.

  48. Ryan Roberts February 22, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    Lisa – Take a look at Build a Solo Practice University. (http://buildasolopractice.solopracticeuniversity.com)

    Cesar – I think most if not all states prohibit non-licensed ownership of law firms. Not sure if you could simply be a debt holder, as there are other implications re the ownership there as well.

  49. Ryan Roberts February 22, 2010 at 5:51 am #

    Lisa – Take a look at Build a Solo Practice University. (http://buildasolopractice.solopracticeuniversity.com)

    Cesar – I think most if not all states prohibit non-licensed ownership of law firms. Not sure if you could simply be a debt holder, as there are other implications re the ownership there as well.

  50. Emmet Galvin February 23, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks, I found this very interesting so I appreciate you taking the time to put it up for us.

    I am an Irish Law graduate that has recently passed the New York Bar. I am evaluating my options for starting my career once I am admitted this coming sumer. Despite the fact that I have an Undergraduate Law Degree, a Postgraduate Law Degree (LL.B) and a Master of Laws (LL.M) and will soon be a Bona fide New York Lawyer, I am not entirely confident of securing work in the U.S. when I move over in the summer!!

    Am I mad to be considering setting up a law practice of my own (I am 28 years old) or should I stick to seeking work with others??

    Decisions decisions decisions……

    Great work Ryan, thanks.

    rgds,

    Emmet

  51. Sean Whitworth February 24, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    I passed the bar this past November and immediately created a website, designed my business cards and now have seven active domestic cases-all out of my basement. In this economy people are willing to pay someone for simple low asset matters who work for flat fees and discounted rates. I could not imagine being a lawyer and being told what to do and when I could speak with a client or how I should proceed on a case. Admittedly, I have spent many late hours learning a task others accomplish in five minutes by walking down the hall and speaking to a partner, but this process is completely my own and in my third month I have finally seen a profit, while in my fourth month the phone has stopped ringing. I think it is fear that keeps most attorneys in the world of the glorified paralegal following the instructions of others. I would recommend this for anyone who does not want to give up the idea of being a lawyer that they took into law school.

  52. Sean Whitworth February 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    I passed the bar this past November and immediately created a website, designed my business cards and now have seven active domestic cases-all out of my basement. In this economy people are willing to pay someone for simple low asset matters who work for flat fees and discounted rates. I could not imagine being a lawyer and being told what to do and when I could speak with a client or how I should proceed on a case. Admittedly, I have spent many late hours learning a task others accomplish in five minutes by walking down the hall and speaking to a partner, but this process is completely my own and in my third month I have finally seen a profit, while in my fourth month the phone has stopped ringing. I think it is fear that keeps most attorneys in the world of the glorified paralegal following the instructions of others. I would recommend this for anyone who does not want to give up the idea of being a lawyer that they took into law school.

  53. Ryan Roberts February 25, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    @ Emmet – It really depends on your finances. Maybe considering building your finances and then launching on your own. The U.S. legal market isn't exactly red hot right now.

    @ Sean – The process of figuring things out on your own is invaluable. Of course, having the mentor/partner is nice as well.

    • am September 24, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

      Ryan- I don’t think you are correct at all. The process of figuring things out yourself is part of being a lawyer and is very useful in the longrun. Sean- Keep doing what you’re doing! Believe in yourself and you’re sure to go far.

      • Anonymous October 27, 2010 at 2:53 am #

        I think that’s what I said — or at least what I intended to say.

    • am September 24, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

      Ryan- I don’t think you are correct at all. The process of figuring things out yourself is part of being a lawyer and is very useful in the longrun. Sean- Keep doing what you’re doing! Believe in yourself and you’re sure to go far.

  54. Ryan Roberts February 25, 2010 at 4:38 am #

    @ Emmet – It really depends on your finances. Maybe considering building your finances and then launching on your own. The U.S. legal market isn't exactly red hot right now.

    @ Sean – The process of figuring things out on your own is invaluable. Of course, having the mentor/partner is nice as well.

  55. Emmet Galvin February 26, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks Ryan,

    I have to be honest, I am quite unsure what approach to take as far as getting employment.

    It really is a bad time to be admitted practice law eh??!!

    Realistically, how much financial backing would I need to launch my own practice??…ballpark figure?!

    Thanks again,

    Your advice is much appreciated.

    rgds,

    Emmet

  56. JLH October 21, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Thank you for the sophisticated and informative blog. After a decade of handling complex contract negotiations as in-house counsel for a variety a clients, I’m considering striking out on my own. Do you recommend posting a detailed resume of my in-house counsel positions on my soon-to-be website or follow your example of a redacted bio? I’ve never had to drum up business before and I don’t know what would appeal to the prospective clients.

    • Anonymous October 27, 2010 at 2:52 am #

      I think you should post your experience, provided it demonstrates how you can help your intended audience.

  57. New Lawyer! November 11, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    Do you think it is foolish for a new lawyer to start her own criminal defense law firm, taking drug possession and traffic cases for the first few years? I have a judicial clerkship experience and a judicial externship experience. Thx.

  58. New Lawyer! November 11, 2010 at 10:29 pm #

    Do you think it is foolish for a new lawyer to start her own criminal defense law firm, taking drug possession and traffic cases for the first few years? I have a judicial clerkship experience and a judicial externship experience. Thx.

  59. Austin Obieje January 6, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    @am. Ryan was right. “invaluable” in the English language means of high value. Pls check your dictionary first if you were unsure of a meaning of a word.

  60. Zee February 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Hi,

    I passed the bar examination in April 2010, since then I have been looking for a job but no luck. I have experience in immigration law.I want to start up my own practise. First I thought working from home would be great but then I thought about meeting my clients and their perspective on working from home, like who would pay a lawyer to meet at a coffee shop?Any ways I found this small office for $250 per month where I thought I can meet my clients, also got a friend to answer my calls and work as a paralegal on contract basis. Had a website made… also found some lawyers to act as my mentors…now when its time to sign up the office lease, I am getting scared and am getting double thoughts of backing out…I don’t know if this is normal for any one begining to start up their practise.
    Also what kind of advertrisment should I use to attrack clients?
    Please advise on going solo as many people scare me, they advise me that I should work with a lawfirm first before going solo?

  61. Rex Wilson March 4, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Do you have to be a lawyer to start a law firm or can my partner and I own it and just hire attorneys?

  62. Gabriella March 15, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    I have recently started working at a very small law firm, 3 secretaries and 3 lawyers. This is my first job in this field, so I came into this office without any experience, and I quickly observed that the other two secretaries were also new in this field. So its “the blind, leading the blind” in a way. The office is falling apart, there is no organization nor communication between the secretaries and lawyers. There was no training & we are expected to deliver perfection.
    I am desperately looking for organization structures I can present to the staff members in order to try to save our office. But having no prior experience, its been difficult to come up with anything they haven’t already tried. ANY ADVICE?

    • Lou November 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

      Find another job if things don’t improve soon. Unfortunately, not all lawyers know how to manage a law firm. You may want to have a professional cordial meeting with the attorney who appears to be in charge. Something along the lines of, “I want to do everything I can to be a productive employee at this firm. I am a quick learner. Can I come to you with questions during a scheduled time of day so that I don’t use up all of your valuable time?” If this doesn’t work, polish up your resume and move on before the firm goes under.

  63. Lou November 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Start ups are often times looked down upon by the large firm types. To me, they hold a special place in my heart. Large firms were once a start up. A group of lawyers with a crazy idea, spilling out of a government office or a tanking private firm. A solo practicioner now hiring associates to keep up with demand, loyal associates later being promoted to partner. The start ups of today, may be the large multi-million firms of tomorrow. Just make sure to have a good detailed business plan before you start. Keep in mind that not everyday is a bowl of sunshine, but the alternative of working for others is always gloomier. Being on your own is both exciting and frightful, the stuff of life. Go for it. But do so wisely. Built up cash reserves and watch your costs. Plan for income levels and set minimum reserves and cash flow markers to trigger the hiring process for support staff. It’s easy to get swamped, and overwhelmed when the clients come pouring in, and it may result in your losing clients for lack quality service if you can’t keep up. Know that you can do it, if you plan wisely. Good luck to all of you.

  64. Miso August 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Ey Ryan great blog I’m in South Africa and I’m thinking of going solo as soon as I finish my articles of clerkship in 2013 thanks for great ideas I love them I wish you could post more ideas.

  65. Shamim November 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    Thank you very much.

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