While finishing law school and passing the bar are no doubt significant achievements, many newly minted attorneys soon learn that it is hardly passing the finish line when it comes to their professional legal career. Specifically, the immediate next step after completing law school and the bar is to determine where to practice. For many, this means joining a law firm — whether big law, medium sized, or a small firm; for others, this means making the deliberate choice of hanging a shingle and going solo. Although doing so may be daunting at first, there are many benefits to running your own legal practice.
Benefits of a Solo Practice
There are numerous benefits to becoming a solo practitioner–even if you do so straight out of law school. These advantages include:
● Being Your Own Boss: Perhaps one of the best perks of running a solo practice is giving yourself flexibility because you are the boss. Whether you have multiple projects going on, have to look after family, or other personal matters, you can set up your own schedule. If this is important to you, going solo may be an option.
● Less Overhead Costs: Not surprisingly, the costs of a solo operation is much lower than those incurred by a larger operation. A solo practice needs less real estate (if at all), less material, and perhaps little to no staff.
● Enhanced Client Experience: Many clients prefer to work with solo practitioners and small firms because they get to work with the same attorney who provided an initial consultation. The one-on-one experience, and often better pricing, makes solos more attractive to some clients.
Above are just some of the benefits of a solo practice, not just for the client but the practicing attorney.
Choosing a Practice Area
While a huge benefit of being a solo practitioner is flexibility and running the firm how you want to, the major drawback is having a significant amount of responsibility on your shoulders. For this reason, it is critical to consider the following factors when deciding your practice area:
● Personal values: Think about your motivations for working each day to represent your clients. This includes working under pressure, representing potentially guilty clients, the emotions involved with family law cases, or fighting for just compensation for injured
victim-clients. Simply put, think about what you care most about before choosing a practice area.
● Geographic area: Be sure to look at the geographic area where you plan on starting your legal firm to determine what other practices exist, what area those firms practice in, your competitive edge (if any) when entering the market, and if there is an opportunity to create a niche.
● Your timing: Take a look at what is going on around you, both personally and in the world, before opening up a practice. Research to determine if there are emerging areas of the law that will have future demand or areas of the law that are starting to fade away. When determining your practice, look at social, technological, and political climates to assess which direction to take.
The above should help any attorney–novice or veteran–determine whether to start a solo practice and how to decide what legal area to choose.
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