Starting your own solo practice can be both exhilarating and terrifying, follow this article to make sure you are ready for all the different aspects of life as a solo lawyer.
After years of being with a firm, corporation or in public service, hanging out your own shingle can be more than a little worrisome. There’s practice management, the issue of drumming up clients, and the cost and risk of a solo practice. This can be intimidating. But, with all of the possible downsides, the benefits are certainly intriguing.
Some lawyers have no desire to jump onto the partner track, and some aren’t cut out for corporate life, long-term. If the lure of a solo practice is calling you, here’s how to make it happen without losing your marbles or your life savings.
Be Sure You’re Ready to Make the Shift
Wanting to work as a solo and being ready for it are sometimes two very different things. But there are some key indicators that it’s a good time. Confidence in your abilities, passion for making it work and willingness to take on the risk are three important ones, according to Rocket Lawyer.
A good opportunity can help make the decision for you, but you have to act before it disappears.
Timing is everything. For example, an under-represented area of practice isn’t on just your radar. If you wait, someone else will likely snatch it up. You’ll also need the resources, but you might not need as much as you think. Starting small doesn’t mean you lack vision, it means you’re exercising good judgment.
Don’t Take on More Than You Can Handle
You won’t transition directly into an active law practice with a large cache of clients overnight. So you don’t need a pricey office that might only see a handful of activity right away. One of the biggest mistakes in opening a solo practice is taking on more than is required. As a lawyer, your necessary startup costs can be very low – much lower than with many other businesses.
The right executive office suite will fit perfectly into this scenario. In fact, you’ll probably come out ahead. Instead of renting a single office space that you must furnish and supply, you’ll get a fully-furnished office, plus amenities, such as office equipment, trained staff and, if you are in a space filled with other lawyers, you can generate referrals that take some lawyers years to accomplish. What’s more, when your practice grows, your office can grow with it.
Research the Business Particulars
Every lawyer in solo practice has responsibilities and expenses that come with the territory. If you’re not aware, they can creep up and spell financial disaster. Before you commit to branching out on your own, do your research and be sure that you not only understand what’s required, but also that you can handle it alone.
Working on your own means you’ll need to secure private health, life, and disability insurance. The American Bar Association also reminds that any retirement funds in an employer-sponsored plan should be transferred to your own. Your taxes will be different in a solo practice, too. Take a look at the ABA’s “Going Solo” article for a comprehensive list of specifics for running a law office and where to find in-depth answers.
A solo practice is part excitement and part pure terror. As with any new beginning, the future is wide open and full of possibilities. There’s excitement in knowing that you’re your own boss. And then there’s terror with the realization that every ounce of practice management is on your shoulders.