Are you a lawyer or a business person? The truth is you need to be both to succeed as a solo lawyer. What does that include, and how can you pull it all off without losing your cool in the process?
Life for a New York lawyer operating a solo law firm runs at a breakneck speed. When you choose to go solo, the buck stops squarely with you. You are no longer only a lawyer, you’re an entrepreneur who has to constantly wear several different hats. You’re a marketer, bookkeeper, payables and receivables clerk, researcher, receptionist and quality control specialist. The list is virtually endless. Add to that the need for consistent networking and you have multiple mountains to climb every day.
Furthermore, you are expected to be exceptional at all these different jobs.
When you graduated from law school and passed the bar, you may have given little thought as to what would actually be required to run a successful solo practice. But now you are the owner of a solo law firm. You must become proficient with all of the skill sets necessary to run your firm like a successful business.
Embracing a Business Mindset
A realistic assessment of your relative strengths and weaknesses will help you succeed in solo practice. An honest assessment will reveal which skills you can likely master easily and which tasks you might prefer to outsource.
For example, let’s say you are relatively comfortable with numbers and finance. You may decide that investing in a good accounting software program will streamline your bookkeeping throughout the year. On the other hand, if you are hopeless at balancing a checkbook, it might be worth your while to find a reliable CPA as soon as possible.
Technological advances have also made running your solo practice even simpler. Having the ability to work on mobile devices, subscribing to cloud-based word processing and document storage solutions, and using management tools like online scheduling calendars can all help to run your firm from virtually anywhere and at any time.
Also, with more lawyers giving advice and sharing their experiences online, it has become very easy to access helpful information. There are countless blog and forums online that give free advice to lawyers on topics such as law firm marketing, how to use social media, legal networking and how to run a successful solo law practice in general.
How Coworking Space or Shared Office Space Can Help
Coworking space or a shared office space can also help you run a successful solo practice. The cost of shared office space is considerably less than that of a traditional office, especially in larger cities such as New York. Most shared office space options include all the amenities you would expect in a larger, more traditional office space, such as:
- Fully equipped offices and conference rooms
- Convenient mail and package forwarding
- Dedicated telephone numbers which display can any office address
- A shared receptionist to screen and field your calls
If you choose to share office space with other solo or small law firms, you will have the added benefit of a built-in network of lawyers in complementary practice areas. This arrangement usually leads to an increase in referrals and co-counsel opportunities, which in turns builds your business and sets you up for sustainable revenue growth.
When first going solo, some lawyers are not prepared to handle all of the business aspects of a solo firm. This is something that they must learn as their firm grows. And by understanding how to embrace and accept new business challenges, while also looking for useful tools and resources to help, lawyers can better manage all the tasks that come with running a solo practice.