This week in Things I Wish I Knew…Joleena Louis reflects on her past mishaps and how they have helped to build both her and her solo practice.
While I feel like I have been relatively successful thus far with my solo practice, I have made a few mistakes along my journey. While I may refer to these mishaps as “mistakes,” what I really mean is that I have adapted to learning curve.
By writing down my “mistakes”, my goal is that maybe you will not make them. Truthfully, you will make mistakes. Mistakes are what solo practice is all about. I just hope that you can learn from mine to mitigate yours.
1. Spending Too Much Money Starting Out
Although I realized that I didn’t NEED a lot of “stuff” to start my solo practice, there were so many things that I was used to, having working at other firms, that I thought I needed for solo practice.
Actually, need is the wrong verb.
I didn’t need anything. I thought I needed things.
For example, I purchased practice management software early into my self-employment journey. Though it may be beneficial now, I should have waited a couple of months before committing to an annual contract. The reason being is that when I first started my practice, I only had a few clients.
Therefore, I didn’t really use it. I could have waited a few months and saved a good amount of money.
2. Offering Payment Plans
I quickly learned that business is business and to never start any representation until my retainer is paid in full. That may make me lose potential clients, but it’s better than having to chase someone down for payment.
3. Paying For Advertising
As soon as your website is up you will be contacted by people who claim they can help you get more clients.
I tested out a few of the lower cost options and it was just a waste of time and money.
The most successful way for me to get clients continues to be networking. The free listing on Avvo has also brought me leads. If I had to do it all over again I would have put that wasted money toward more networking events.
4. Not Asking Enough Questions when taking on A New Client
I had a recent experience where I almost settled a case. Almost is the operative word. I almost settled the case, until my client’s spouse dropped a factual bombshell. This not only blew my mind, but effectively, it blew up the settlement.
Technically my client didn’t lie to me about the issue. His sin was one of omission. He just didn’t give me all the details.
As a result of my own sin of omission, (failing to ask tons of questions) drama ensured. The result ended up being much more costly for my client.
My advice, don’t take anything for granted: especially a “factual statement”.
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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’ start-up program in Downtown, New York. 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.