My 4 Biggest Solo Law Firm Challenges in 2018

By Joleena Louis - January 31, 2018
My 4 Biggest Solo Law Firm Challenges in 2018

In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York solo lawyer Joleena Louis talks about the setbacks and challenges she has already faced this year.

Only a month into the new year and I’m already facing some interesting challenges. At the end of each month, I like to take a look at what is working in my practice and what is not. So with that in mind, these are some of the things I definitely have to work on.  

1.  Delegation

Delegation is very hard for me. It just doesn’t come naturally. My practice is my baby and I like to be in absolute control over everything

Unfortunately, I can’t do it all and in order to grow my practice (and save my sanity), I have to delegate some tasks. There just isn’t enough time in the day for me to do it all (much to my dismay).

Right now, I have a virtual paralegal and virtual assistant that work for me but I’m sure I’m not using them to their maximum potential.

2.  Pricing: Flat Fee v. Hourly

I’m confident in my fees, but my challenge lies in whether I should transition to 100% flat fees.  Right now, for contested matters, I offer both flat and hourly options and I am at about 50/50 in terms of what clients choose.

Ultimately I prefer the flat fee model. It’s simpler in almost every aspect. I get paid in full up front and both the client and I know exactly what the representation will cost. So far I’ve been really good at estimating the amount of time my flat fee cases will take and I typically break even or end up ahead compared to what I would earn with hourly fees.

The problem is that 50% of my clients prefer hourly. I think the issue is being able to afford to pay the large flat fee up front. I break that flat fee into stages of representation, but it’s still more affordable for some to pay retainer plus hourly rate.

3.  Time Management

Normally I am a time management ninja. In the past, I have shared some of the time management strategies I use to stay on top of everything.

But 2018 is shaping up to be an insanely busy year. I’ve already more than doubled my January revenue compared to January 2017 and I have several exciting but time-consuming obligations coming up over the next few months.

It’s starting to get a bit overwhelming so I have to really focus on staying on top of it all and forcing myself to delegate more.

4.  Saying No

I’m inherently a people pleaser so I have a really hard time saying no, especially to people I like and respect.

But it takes a toll.

Given the additional obligations on my time this year, I have to say no to opportunities that don’t add value to my life or business. This means simply opting out of things that are not important to me and delegating things that must be done but don’t have to be personally completed by me.

What are your greatest challenges this year and how do you plan to overcome them?

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About Joleena Louis

Joleena Louis is a matrimonial and family law attorney at Joleena Louis Law, a firm she founded after leaving a boutique matrimonial firm in Brooklyn. Joleena is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Financial District location. Her weekly blog series Things I Wish I Knew... explores her thought process and experiences in her transition from small law firm employee to successful solo practice entrepreneur. Follow Joleena on Twitter.

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