In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, Matrimonial lawyer Joleena Louis shares the most important things she’s learned since going solo.
My firm is coming up on its four year anniversary so I’ve been reflecting on everything I’ve learned.
Like everything in life, there have been ups and downs, and I am definitely a different person and lawyer now. My practice has grown and changed, and here are the top things I’ve learned along the way.
Knowing My Value
The biggest lesson learned over these past four years is to have confidence in myself, my skills, and my judgment. When I started my practice I was only a few years out of law school. Though I had lots of experience from my time as an associate, where I literally ran the matrimonial practice, I still had so many insecurities.
Over the years I’ve learned to have confidence in myself and my abilities – even when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.
Another part of learning my value was understanding that I had to charge what I’m worth and to stand by it. Since I started charging what I think I’m worth, and not what I thought people were willing to pay, I get higher quality clients and enjoy the work more.
Another big lesson I learned is that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Making connections simply brings in more business. I get the majority of my clients from word of mouth. The more I network, the more my phone rings. If I had to start all over again I would focus on relationships from the start.
Planning Is Everything
Being a business owner is difficult.
Staying organized and keeping things moving smoothly takes a lot of work and planning, especially as a solo. It took me a while to figure out how important it was to plan my year, months, weeks, and days. Once I learned to get organized it became easier to get things done.
Do The Things That Scare You Most
Over the past four years, I’ve gotten the most out of the things that scared me: Starting my practice with little capital and no backup plan, giving speeches to large groups of people, asking for referrals. Just putting myself out there. It’s always been scary, but always worth it.
Learning Who I Am
The most important lesson of all has been learning who I really am. I am much stronger now than I was in 2013. I’m smarter. I can handle rejection and overcome any obstacle. When things look hopeless, I know how to keep pushing. I turn problems into progress.
It hasn’t been an easy road and I know there are many new bumps ahead. But I wouldn’t change my decision to start my own practice for anything in the world.