Starting Out on Your Own
You may have been laid off from a position in a law firm. You may still be working in a law firm but dissatisfied with the path you have traveled. You may have graduated from law school and taken an unfulfilling position outside of the legal profession.
You have looked at the job notices in hard copy and on line and seen little. You tried to contact headhunters but have had no response.
You either have a strong interest in being your own boss or do not think you have any other options if you are to stay in the law.
If you do become a solo practitioner, you will be following a very traditional path for lawyers in this country. Recall the figures on the demographics of the legal profession. About 70% of the one million lawyers are in private practice and approximately half of them (350,000) are solo practitioners.
Who do these lawyers represent? Individuals and small businesses with a broad range of concerns and legal issues.
Setting up a solo practice is not an easy task. Fortunately, recently there are resources available to help the aspiring entrepreneur. Carolyn Elefant has written Solo by Choice and compiles resources on My Shingle. Susan Cartier Liebel not only writes in Build a Solo Practice but is starting an online school for lawyer – Solo Practice University – for which I am pleased to say that I am a Career Resource.
Again keep in mind that because you are a solo, that does not mean that you have to be alone. You may want to have an office in your house. That is your option. But, like so many others, you can share space with others with the advantages of community that entails.
Even if you do not want to go solo, you should consider starting out as an independent contractor, working on an hourly basis for lawyers in your chosen field. Many have resorted to this option but do not think of themselves as solos. They take any hourly work for any lawyers, all the while waiting for a full-time position offer.
What is preferable is to approach the situation similarly to those seeking employment; i.e., narrow your interests and choose the field of your dreams. Then reach out and promote yourself to those who practice in the field, not asking for a position but for them to be your eyes and ears for work. You might even take an additional step and consider space sharing, bartering a percentage of your compensation for an office and other support. The result may be contracts with three or more lawyers leading to solo practice, an association or a position as an associate or as a partner