The American Bar Association estimates that 50% of all attorneys are sole practitioners. Some of those are experienced attorneys who have decided to leave a large firm and venture out on their own. Some are recent law school graduates who are facing double-digit unemployment and backbreaking student loans.
Whether you are fresh out of law school or an established attorney looking to hang a shingle for the first time, you need to consider a number of things about going solo.
It’s not just the law. Many attorneys on their own say they spend almost half their time on tasks not strictly related to being a lawyer. Most solo attorneys say they spend between 25%-50% of their time on things other than practicing law. That could include everything from sales and marketing, to IT troubleshooting to bookkeeping.
You are now in Sales. In a large firm the cases find their way to your desk. When you’re solo, you’ll need to go out and prospect, market yourself online, and otherwise finds ways to acquire and retain clients. Just like in any other business, it’s a competitive market out there and you’ll need to fight to earn business.
You are running a business. One of the top fears expressed by lawyers considering going out on their own is that they lack the knowledge and experience to run their own business. Teaching essential business management skills is not part of a law school curriculum but having that ability is critical to the success of your practice. Costs are the other half of the profit equation and controlling expenses needs to be a primary focus.
Luckily, there is legal software that can help you minimize your overhead costs while still maintaining effective customer interaction. As we’ve discussed in the past, a robust law practice management software platform allows secure 24/7 communications between you and your clients. Whether sharing information through client portals, adding alerts or making it easy for your clients to pay online, this type of software can minimize the time and money spent on overhead.
Clearly there are challenges to being on your own, but if you give it a shot, you just may find that the rewards of doing so are well worth it.