Closing Thoughts on Opening a Law Practice

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This is my fourth and final guest post. I have dedicated my blogging this month to the topic of starting a law practice. The first week was focused on the reasons why people would want to hang a shingle. The second week’s post discussed start-up costs. The third week was focused on attracting clients. This week, I wrap up with a few final thoughts. Some of these points are responses to questions and comments I received from people thinking about making the leap.

1. Yes, there is a lot of work involved. Starting any business requires a lot of passion, hard work and long hours. Starting a law practice adds to that the work of practicing law, which is in and of itself a full-time job. My take on this is that for the first couple years until things stabilize, you should fully commit to getting your practice off the ground. This means working evenings and weekends if that’s what you have to do.   Continue reading “Closing Thoughts on Opening a Law Practice”

Getting Clients to Hire You

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I once applied for a job and the person interviewing me said words to the following effect:  “Don’t take this the wrong way, but why should I hire you?”  A client who has a problem that warrants spending hundreds or thousands of dollars of hard earned money and/or company assets undoubtedly asks the same question (at least in their head).  I apparently had a good enough answer to the question because I got the job and if you can answer the same question (whether or not the client asks) you will probably get the client to hire you.  

Of course, before you get to answer the question, the client has to find you.  Attorneys who are just starting out can rarely, if ever, come out of the gate with a large advertising budget and marketing campaign.  So word of mouth is really key at first.  The absolute best way to make contact with a new client is through another attorney.  Here’s why:   Continue reading “Getting Clients to Hire You”

Starting a Law Practice on a Tax Return and a Credit Card

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In my last blog entry, I discussed the reasons why lawyers make the jump from firm life to solo practice and also the reasons that hold them back.  Many lawyers I have talked to have cited the start-up costs as a prohibitive barrier to entry.  They also talk about the income they are giving up.  I will briefly discuss the income issue and then focus on the startup costs.

Say you are earning $100,000 a year at your current firm job.  If, as a solo, you bill at a very competitive rate of $150 an hour, you would need to bill and collect 667 hours in the course of a year to make $100,000.  That translates to 13 hours a week.  Continue reading “Starting a Law Practice on a Tax Return and a Credit Card”

Good Reasons and Bad Reasons to Start Your Own Practice

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In early 2008, I left a great job as a senior associate at one of Wisconsin’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious firms to start my own practice across the Milwaukee River in an office share on Old World Third Street.  After a whole lot of work, it’s all coming together.  In the past two and a half years, I can’t begin to tell you how many lawyers I have spoken to who have told me that they too want to do this too.  But then they list a number of reasons why they aren’t ready yet and may never be ready.  I’m sure there are a number of lawyers out there who have the same thoughts, and maybe some of them are reading this blog (maybe even while they are supposed to be working billable hours).

So, rather than focus on new cases or a specific area of law, I am going to devote my month as guest blogger to issues associated with starting a law practice.  If my anecdotal evidence is correct, it is likely to have a wider appeal than anything that is substantively narrow.

This first week I will devote to the soul searching aspect of the decision.  The “why” aspect.  Continue reading “Good Reasons and Bad Reasons to Start Your Own Practice”