There are a number of factors to consider when deciding to go solo in general. But for a new law graduate, those factors are doubled. Starting a solo law practice is not an easy task as it is both a business and a profession. Here are a few things to consider before getting started.
After graduating from law school and taking the bar exam, the natural path for a new lawyer is to find employment where they can get their careers started so they can put the three years of grueling education to use. Some may have it easier than others and find jobs quickly. But in the time of the pandemic, others have found it challenging to navigate this “new normal” of hybrid work environments or work-from-home settings. This, along with the rise in unconventional employment, thanks to content creation on various social media platforms, have given many new lawyers both the advantage and disadvantage of deciding whether or not to follow the mold or break out of them. While most new lawyers continue to search for employment with law firms, others have embarked on the idea of starting their journey as a solo attorney; however, in this day and age, should a new lawyer consider going solo?
Figure Out the Financials.
Starting your own practice requires you to take a good look at the numbers and assess your overall finances. You need to ensure that you are able to generate enough income per month to cover all of your expenses, both personal and business. Additionally, you need to think about expenses that you can reduce or eliminate. Ask yourself: Do you need that streaming subscription?
Once the finances have been tallied up, factor in about 30% more for taxes and use that number to help you calculate how much business you will need to do as a solo practitioner. For instance, if your total monthly expenses add up to $6,000 a month, use that number to figure out what rate you can reasonably bill your clients. Doing this can help you to stay accountable and on top of your business. This will also allow you to decide how much billable hours you will need to generate each month.
Choose a Specific Practice Area Niche.
There are many practice areas within the legal profession that you can choose from. For that reason, it is important to specialize in a specific niche market within your practice area. If you practice divorce or child custody law, for example, you may benefit by narrowing that field down and specializing in helping working fathers retain custody of their children. Soon enough, once you establish a reputation in that specific niche, you will become the person your peers think of for future cases and referrals.
Decide Where to Practice From.
As you begin to plan out your solo law practice logistics, you must consider where you will operate your business. There are many different routes you can take in order to practice efficiently. For example, there are virtual office services that are cost-effective, which you can utilize if you are not anticipating meeting with clients or prefer to work from your home office. In addition, coworking and shared office space options are also available if you intend on meeting with clients or find that you are more motivated to work in an office setting around other solo attorneys. Ultimately, whether it is from a virtual office or a shared office space, make sure that you take advantage of opportunities to network with fellow solo attorneys in the suite.
Deciding to go solo straight out of law school is daunting for any new attorney. There are a billion things to think about before you begin, so it is crucial that you consider all factors before you take the leap. Making sure that you are well-prepared by calculating your finances before starting can reduce your stress levels when you begin. Additionally, mapping out the logistics of your practice and deciding whether you will be working remotely or out of a shared office provider will set you off on the right track. Of course, running your own business and practice will be challenging most of the time, but you will reap the rewards in many ways and will be glad you started in the first place.