Achieving success as a new solo lawyer will never be easy, but doing the right things can make it a lot more likely.
Starting your own law practice isn’t easy and managing it from day-to-day is even more challenging. If you’re going to put that much effort into something, wouldn’t you want to ensure its success?
Achieving success isn’t a matter of doing the same things you’ve always done. It may seem obvious, but successful people are successful because they do things differently. They think, believe, and operate unlike most other people.
For any solo lawyer, success is based on a combination of the following three elements:
Starting a solo practice isn’t necessarily a new concept so you might be wondering what you would need inspiration for. As it turns out, there are many aspects of being a lawyer in a small firm that can inspire and motivate you.
For example, you had to feel inspired to make that first big leap towards starting your own practice. You were stirred by the prospect of having the freedom to determine their own schedule. The idea of being your own boss made you excited for the future. You felt inspired to build something that is truly your own, you pick the clients, you make the decisions. That inspiration doesn’t end once you get your law firm off the ground.
You must hold on to whatever it is about being a solo lawyer that inspired you in the first place. Keep that inspiration in perspective as you continue to build your firm because it will motivate you when times get tough.
Hanging a shingle is about more than setting up shop in a home office and expecting clients to call you. Your execution has to be well thought out.
Before you even consider starting a solo practice, you need a business plan, a marketing strategy, and a solid methodology for networking. You also should make a strategic decision about what type of office arrangement you’ll use and how you’ll leverage it to grow your practice. It also doesn’t hurt to learn new, effective ways to stay productive, manage your finances and implement new legal technology.
The entire process of becoming a solo attorney and growing your practice requires constant planning and continuing education. If you’re unwilling to plan, seek out help or admit you don’t know everything, then you’re going to fail at execution.
This is the big key to success that many solos fail to recognize. They stop at execution because they think being a competent lawyer with a plan is enough. It’s not. Performance and attention-to-detail are your best differentiators.
Execution is important, but obsessive attention to detail — making sure you get it right, every time, for every client– is critical. For example, it’s important to choose an office that looks like a law firm because it impresses clients. Detail is why you should invest in an automation system so you can become more diligent about communicating with clients. It’s why you should make sure your wardrobe reflects your personal brand, why you should reflect on the interactions you have with other lawyers, and why you should revamp your social media profiles and law firm website.
So why do lawyers usually stop at execution and fail to pay any mind to detail? Well, it’s honestly easier that way. Between doing client work and seeking out referrals, many solos often think they don’t have time for minor details. And that is the difference between a successful solo lawyer and a solo who can barely keep their firm afloat. Focusing on small details like branding, social media or fashion is an investment. If you don’t see that, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
You became a solo so you could be in control of your own life and career, but you need to be prepared for the work, thought, and preparation it takes to maintain a firm.You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t do everything possible to achieve success. Remember that each solo lawyer’s path to success is different and these three elements are tools you should use to forge your own path.