Discovering What Excites (and Sometimes Concerns) Me in My Solo Practice

By Liz Johnson - March 7, 2017
Discovering What Excites (and Sometimes Concerns) Me in My Solo Practice

In this week’s edition of Young, Hungry & Committed, solo attorney Liz Johnson shares some of the things that have excited, concerned and helped her during her first few months of being self-employed.

My first few months of being a solo lawyer have had their fair share of ups and downs. For example, I probably wasn’t nearly as prepared as I should have been when I first open up shop.

But things have started to fall into place and I am taking joy in each new victory that comes my way. That doesn’t mean I am 100% there, but I am getting closer.

Here are some of the things that have excited me so far in my practice, as well as one or two concerns:

My First Paying Clients

Nothing quite takes the cake like getting your first paycheck.

I had done a lot for my first client, so the payment was worth about the same amount I made in retail over a 1-2 month period. But wow did it feel good.

That feeling right there is what made me want to be solo, it was all me. And when I say that, I mean I made the decisions for the final product. The final product itself, it was never just me. I had an amazing mentor who helped guide me with required language and gave advice on things that aren’t necessarily written within the letter of the law. She helped me with things I would have never would have known or thought of on my own this first time. She is truly a godsend. Here’s a shout out to the MSBA Mentorship Program, I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor!

I Truly Love What I’m Doing

Despite having a few tough times, I’ve also gotten the good old “why don’t you get one of those real jobs,” and “I could never do what you’re doing I prefer getting a paycheck,” comments from various people.

Those comments start to stack but, but then I read another solo practitioner’s blog who incidentally wrote about something similar. She wrote about what to do when you start feeling down about your practice and doubting it will thrive. That blog mentioned that you need to remember why you went solo in the first place, and I think that’s very true.

Also, another attorney, Linda Thatcher, spoke at the MSBA Solo and Small Firm Conference. She said something that still reverberates with me today. “You really have to love what you’re doing.” Because if you don’t, then when you do get into slumps, it’s that much harder to pull yourself back up and get back to working and improving your practice.

Taking Pride in the Little Victories

It was a very silly thing to get excited about, but nonetheless, I was very happy to find that one person had liked a posting I made on Google+. I know it isn’t much, but it was nice to see.

An attorney I met at an Anne Arundel County Bar Association and Law Firm Suites networking event said that I need to get on every social media channel available. So I opened some accounts up and now have four. I am posting to them and I’m not sure how well they are all working or if they’re working at all, but that one like made my day.

Some of my Concerns

By and by, I’m not sure what other solo practitioners say on their blogs, but I’m surely not going to tell you it’s all been a magical fairytale.

I’ve been open for business since October 11, 2016. It’s now been approximately four months, and I haven’t even broken $1000. Incidentally, this did work out in my favor, as I haven’t quite figured out all the tax implications of being my own employer yet. But it would appear that the amount I earned was low enough to not matter.

I’m extremely concerned about money as I’ve only had two paying clients. But in the meantime, I’m even looking just to gain experience and trying to do some legal work for free, and even that’s been unsuccessful. Seriously!? Who turns down free legal services!?!

So far my solo practice has consisted of different ups and downs, but I am optimistic and excited for what’s to come. How about you? What excites you about your practice? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson is a newly solo lawyer, specializing in Estate Planning, Deeds and Elder Law. Liz is also a virtual office client in Law Firm Suites’ Annapolis, MD location. Her bi-weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the ins and outs of life as a solo attorney, finding her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice. Connect with Liz on LinkedIn or learn more on her website!

One thought on “Discovering What Excites (and Sometimes Concerns) Me in My Solo Practice

  1. Liz – I enjoyed you very honest take on starting as a solo. I joined a one person firm 25 years ago and have practiced on my own several times since then. While there are no absolute rules for everyone, I have found Bar involvement to be a good way to get referrals from more established practitioners. Good luck in your journey.

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