[Survey Results] The secret to a successful law practice: Get Hitched!

By Stephen Furnari - January 2, 2014
[Survey Results] The secret to a successful law practice: Get Hitched!

The attorneys in Law Firm Suites’ NYC shared office space participated in a survey to better understand the influence of our spouses on our decision to start a law practice. The survey produced some interesting results.


The results are in on our survey, How did your spouse influence your decision to start a law firm?. Thank you to everyone Law Firm Suites’ NYC shared office space who participated.

The Highlights

You guys didn’t disappoint. The results were very, very interesting, with two really big (and unexpected) takeaways:

  1. Self-employed lawyers are relationship people. Almost 87% percent of participants were either married (72%) or in a committed relationship (15%) when they started their law practice.
  2. And we’re good at it. Despite the baseless musings of our critics, self-employed lawyers seem to be good at relationships. Over 94% of participants are still in a relationship with the same person as when they started their law firms.

The Background Data

Here’s the background info on our sample:

  • About half of our Community responded to the survey.
  • Approximately 70% of participants were solo attorneys, and the remainder were partners in small law firms.
  • Everyone was a self-employed attorney.
  • 41% of participants started their practice less than a year ago, with the remaining 60% being evenly split between 1 to 3 years, 4 to 7 years, 7 to 10 years and >10 years.
  • Only 12% of participants were single and not in a committed relationship when they started their practice, which was sort of a surprise to us.

The Results

  • You guys married some pretty cool people. Not one person reported that their significant other was “Not supportive” or “Somewhat unsupportive” of your decision to start a law firm.  This was shocking to us.  We expected at least one jealous or risk averse spouse that really liked the security of the steady paycheck. Not the case. Despite some of your occasional griping (you know who you are), you guys married some pretty cool people.  Over 76% of participants reported that their spouse was “Very supportive” of their decision to become a self-employed attorney.
  • A significant portion of you got a boost from your spouse’s income.  Nearly 70% of participants reported that, when they started your practice, their significant other had an income that contributed to their household expenses.
  • A third of you are cool under pressure: starting a practice with kids at home. When your back is against the wall, you make it or flame out quickly. An even one-third of you started your law firm with dependent children at home. Talk about pressure to make things work quickly. Those of you with 2 children out-numbered those with 1, 3 or 4+ combined.
  • You and your honey were really committed to making your practice work (or were fiscally irresponsible). Attorneys are not usually “glass half full” types, but of every participant who was in a committed relationship, only ONE had any kind of agreement about when you pull the plug on the practice. Seems the rest of you jumped without a parachute. So much for the theory that attorneys are risk averse in business!!
  • Two-Thirds of you value your better half’s opinion about business (which means that 1/3 do not)!  When asked “During the first year of your practice, how often did you seek your partner’s/spouse’s opinion about business issues that came up?”, 66% of you responded that you sought your significant other’s advice, of which 60% of you sought advice “Often” or “Somewhat often”. Of course, the flip side of that coin is that 34% sought the advice of your spouse  “Infrequently”or “Never”. Maybe you all are just really good at leaving your work at work!
  • You all are good at relationships! For those of you who reported that you were in a relationship when you started your law practice, 94% of you reported that you are still in a relationship with that person. Talk about beating the national divorce rate average. The divorce rate among married couples is about 40% these days.

Now What?

Our plans are to share the good news (and silence the critics) that, we self-employed attorneys are awesome at relationships! We’re looking to turn the results of this survey into guest blog articles for other attorney-related websites.

So if you haven’t taken the survey, it would be a big help if you did so now. It only takes 53 seconds (seriously, we timed it).

Start a law firm

Law Firm Suites is the leading NYC shared office space for solo attorneys and small law firms. At Law Firm Suites, attorneys get headache free, sublet office space and virtual law suites, membership in a community of lawyers who are eager to help them succeed, and referrals to increase the bottom line. Law Firm Suites estimates that attorneys in each business center exchange over $2.5 million in legal business per year.

photo credit: photobunny via photopin cc

About Stephen Furnari

Stephen Furnari is a self-employed corporate attorney and the founder of Law Firm Suites, the operator of coworking spaces for law firms. Through Law Firm Suites, Furnari has helped hundreds of attorneys launch and grow successful law practices. He is the author of several eBooks, including “7 Deadly Mistakes that Prevent Law Practice Success” and “An Insider’s Guide to Renting the Perfect Law Office”. Stephen has been featured in the ABA Journal, Entrepreneur, New York Daily News and Crain’s New York. Connect with Stephen on Twitter (@stephenfurnari).

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