Solo From the Start

Beginning your legal career as a solo attorney

When I graduated in May 2010, the legal job market was not pretty. I knew it was bad when I found out I was competing for a $12/hour law clerk position with two licensed attorneys. I never from the first moment I considered law school thought I would step out on my own as a solo attorney. I love people. I need people around me. Working solo sounded so lonely.
However, the alternatives before me were interviews and offers in Dallas and Houston, which logistically would mean hiring a nanny for my daughter. A nanny to do the things I liked best about parenting just wasn’t going to work. Also, my health requires me to have flexibility to work from home or at weird hours. I knew from my second year of school that the BigLaw model wasn’t ever going to work for me and few smaller firms were hiring baby lawyers without prior connections to them.
So I did it. I consulted with my support network, had lunch with several successful attorneys, printed up business cards, then started handing them out.

In a series of posts, I want to share with you the top 10 things I think you should know about starting solo.

  1. Starting solo straight out of law school is financially hard. Really hard. It requires another source of money: savings, a spouse’s income, an investor, a part-time job. It is unusual to do more than break even your first year, though if you do please email me because I’d like to buy you lunch and hear what you did.
  2. Being a solo means you try every aspect of Small Business at least once before you find what you can do and what you’re better off outsourcing. Some of the roles I’ve done include business manager, bookkeeper, advertising exec, marketing pro, website designer, graphics designer, cleaning staff, data entry, client management, file management, office management, business coach, self-help therapist, and IT gal.Knowing people who do those things helps, though you must respect their time if what you need is what they sell. You don’t like working for free; neither do they.

Stay tuned for 3 and 4