Starting your own practice requires much more than hard work. Learn about the sacrifices other solo and small firm lawyers have had to make in their own firms.
Whether you are just finishing up law school and can’t find a job, or you’re a leaving a firm to pave your own path, there are some things every solo lawyer has in common. Almost every solo lawyer has had to make sacrifices in order to start their own practice.
The amount and severity of those sacrifices vary from lawyer to lawyer.
Some lawyer’s sacrifices are larger, like missing family events and building debt. While others sacrifice things such as work-life balance and sleep.
We reached out to several solo and small firm lawyers to learn of the sacrifices they made for their practices.
Lawyers and Their Sacrifices
Amanda Shaffer is an immigration attorney in New York City. When asked about the sacrifices she has had to make, she said, “If you plan to save money and do your online marketing/advertising yourself, do not expect to sleep much and be prepared for a lot of carpal tunnel!”
Managing a firm’s administrative and marketing duties, on top of her responsibilities to her clients takes an incredible amount of effort, but she wouldn’t have it any other way, saying “ Embarking on this endeavor [of building a small firm] is daunting, but the reward of being your own boss will make all of your efforts well worth it.”The reward of being your own boss will make all of your efforts well worth it Click To Tweet
Joleena Louis is a successful New York matrimonial solo lawyer. She has had to make several sacrifices, and one of the largest involved giving up her sense of financial security.
Joleena stated that “You don’t appreciate the value of knowing exactly how much you are going to get paid every week until you give that up.”
Joleena has been a solo lawyer for three years and has since become more efficient at marketing her firm. Now she worries less about where the next paycheck will come from.You don’t fully appreciate a weekly paycheck until you give it up Click To Tweet
Jane Wolk started her trust and estate practice after working in another firm. When leaving a big firm to go solo, she had to sacrifice the conveniences and efficiencies of a large firm.
In large firms, there are dedicated employees who handle administrative, marketing and office management tasks but, “as a solo, I am responsible for everything myself.”
To generate new business Jane goes the extra mile by hosting speaking engagements, even if they take away precious family and leisure time. Over time, those speaking engagements have raised the awareness of her practice and more new clients have followed.As a solo there is no one else to help with the additional tasks of running a firm Click To Tweet
While many of the respondents had similar sacrifices, such as lack of sleep and little vacation time, one solo lawyer (who wished to remain anonymous) described in detail the sacrifices needed to start his firm.
One interesting thing he sacrificed was his freedom from his cellphone. When you are a solo and your client calls in the middle of the night, you have to drop what you are doing, or risk losing that client to a competitor. He stated, “I regularly had to work nights and weekends to help clients and had to miss out on school functions, date nights with my wife, and other such events.”
The bottom line is that starting your own solo practice can be extremely rewarding, but at the same time, it isn’t for the faint of heart. It will take some level of sacrifice if you plan on making your practice a success.