This week in Young, Hungry and Committed, virtual office NYC attorney, Vivian Sobers talks about how her solo practice keeps bringing her the most unexpected surprises.
Last week, I re-posted my first article for the Law Firm Suites Community Counsel blog. As I was re-reading it, I realized how far I have come.
Those first few months of starting a solo practice were some of the hardest in my life. If I had even realized what I was going to get myself into, I would have been much more scared. But, I guess ignorance is truly bliss. And in fact, bliss is what my decision always/already was. So therefore, calling me ignorant is, syllogistically speaking, the ultimate compliment.Ignorance is truly bliss up until the moment you become a #soloattorney Click To Tweet
Anyways, when I was discussing starting a practice with a mentor, he kept telling me something that took me over a year and a half to believe. His truth was: “Vivian. When you decide to go solo, unexpected opportunities will come up. Opportunities that you never saw coming or even thought were realistic possibilities.”
At the time, I wasn’t ready to hear those words.
I thought, as many of us do when explaining abstract decisions to people, that he was just placating me; doing his best to re-affirm the only decision I knew how to make. He did – in a comforting, almost soul nourishing way – which was validating and made me skeptical all at once.
The thing is – I now realize that I was my own worst skeptic. His advice came from deep inside. Somewhere so deep the Marianas Trench would be jealous. Somewhere so deep that I only saw the depth of my own darkness; whereas he saw a flicker of light.
Why am I waxing philosophically?
While, in my heart, I always knew I only needed my own validation, an external source recently arose that re-affirmed my own sense of acumen.
In plain English, a colleague offered me a partnership opportunity.
The ultimate irony is that this opportunity arose only out of the musings, rantings, and self-indulgence that is this blog series. While blog and job may only share one common letter, the concepts share an ideology of production. Therefore, I guess I am like Detroit in the 1950’s.
About the partnership…
So, I post this little blog on a little website. I know people read it, but it was relatively bizarre to receive an email 6 months back from a reader with per-diem opportunities. I am many things – but I am not someone to look a gift-horse in the mouth.
We talked. We worked. We made money. We had dinners. We have a continuing collegial relationship. We are what the legal community should be: supportive.
Recently, he has been asking me about partnering up. In fact, he is probably reading this.
The question is all at once flattering, validating and shockingly terrifying.
I worked my ass off to establish myself as a first class litigator. I sacrificed everything (you will read more about that about a month from now) to get to this place. And yet, I am not satisfied with where I am. This is not a subtle con nor an explicit plea.
This is the truth.
I am not sure I will ever be satisfied with where “I am”. Because where I am is both starkly present and fleetingly prescient.
I don’t work hard for yesterdays. Nor do I work hard for todays. I work hard to make up for all the yesterdays and todays. I work harder to create new tomorrows. I guess some people may call it greedy. But you can’t blame a young woman for working hard to create it all. And maybe it is not all, maybe I just work hard to validate the potential that others saw in me and whose recognition I was not ready to see, receive, or enact.
Some people may cite Freud and call it an Id mentality – I want what I want and when I want it is NOW. Some people might call this opportunity a validation. Others may call it stupid to consider.
My soothsayer of a mentor might call me and state that emphatic “it”. The “it” no one wants to hear – “I told you so.”
I call the opportunity amorphous, conflicted and brilliant – all at once.
I’ll let you know. But at this point, I don’t.
I am very fond of 4-letter words, the one that comes to mind is HELP. That is what I need right now.
Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.
A partnership is like a marriage. Do you enjoy the person’s company? Do you respect the person’s work ethics? Do you share similar values? Do you have some idea of how the person reacts when facing stress (real stress)? Payroll due in two days, $ 10,000 in overdraft protection already utilized stress. Do you want the support of another person, which means also the responsibility of supporting another person? IF all of the aforementioned answers are YES. Then partner. Yes is in capital letters, not a maybe, but yes. YES. Do you know the person’s values? Your reputation and income will be directly tied to this other person. Good luck.
I can definitely answer yes to all of the above. I’m just not sure I’m ready for the responsibility of supporting another person. Like you said, it’s like a marriage! While being a solo gives me all of the risk, it also affords me a great deal of freedom in the choices I make and the type of cases I take. I just wonder if I’m holding on too tight to my freedoms. Thanks for your comment!
I left a small partnership in April which was formed with two other women that I didn’t really know. There was a honeymoon period, and then one of them stopped working entirely and charged a BMW to the firm without telling us. As a young attorney, you could benefit from some senior advice, make sure that they actually know stuff, because my ex partner knew nothing and talked a lot of noise. Vet them well, but I salute you for your bravery.
Vetting future partners is sage advice, especially if you don’t really know them well. I represent future business partners in my law practice, and typically, the process of getting through the partnership agreement is very telling about a person and what they will be like to work together in a business. Always trust your gut before getting into a partnership. If someone is difficult to deal with when negotiating partnership terms, it will only be worse when it comes time to make important decisions about how the firm should be run. And always be sure to have a clear pathway to get out of the partnership with your client base in tact (with a good partnership agreement) in the event it ends up not working out like you planned.