Starting Solo

Making the decision to start your own law firm


November 2016

Continued Networking After You Open

One key thing that Ben and I continue to do is NETWORK. There are some differences, however, from networking now versus while you were in law school.

One, since you have passed the bar and been sworn in you are not just another law student seeking advice from practicing attorneys–you are a practicing attorney. As such, you are now a colleague of all of those attorneys you spent time having coffee or lunch with.

Two, here is your chance to reconnect with those same attorneys who hopefully gave you sage advice while in law school. Go to a bar event with them, grab coffee, lunch, or even a post work cocktail. Discuss with them your firm’s intended practice areas and talk about how you can help each other rather than only gleaning advice from them. In addition to reconnecting with attorneys, look for other service providers and specialists in and around your practice area.  Ben and I practice in real estate and property development so although we want to and have been meeting with real estate attorneys, we also meet with realtors, title companies, and property developers (both private and commercial).  Find those ancillary professions that can and do work alongside the lawyers in your practice area.

Three, thank them! Granted, this is not a difference from when you networked while in law school, but important enough to deserve the reminder. At this point all you have is your reputation, and even after all your coming years of practice, all that may be left in the end is your integrity–not huge settlements or big wins in District Court, but how you treated the profession. This includes clients (of course!), but perhaps just as important it includes your colleagues. More civility rather than less civility is always a good thing. You can still advocate for your clients without being a jerk.

So, as you continue to network after opening your doors, remember that although you are a green attorney you have been deemed competent to practice law in your jurisdiction. You should not be afraid to offer your services to others (within the confines of the rules of Professional Conduct, of course!). And always be gracious when others give their time to you because you may be the one helping law students find their way sooner than you think.


Bar Preparation While Building Your Firm

For those of you reading this blog who have already passed the bar skip this article.  If you are still reading and are in the midst of bar prep–STOP!  Focus your efforts on studying and forget about how you have slowed your preparation of opening your firm to a trickle.  After all, opening the firm and practicing law all hinges upon successfully passing the bar and being admitted to practice in your chosen jurisdiction. For the rest of you still reading, here is a bit of advice on focusing on bar preparation while still continuing to build towards opening your law firm.

Take a commercial bar preparation course and, if it is available, take a live course. For Indiana Bar takers, J.T. and I both took IndyBar Bar Review, the live course, and both highly suggest IndyBar’s program.  However, there are many programs to choose from, just make sure you look into each program’s structure and process before choosing.  There are many courses out there to choose from and many that give the convenience of home study, but let’s face it bar prep is not supposed to be convenient!  It is a grueling, exhausting, and lonesome endeavor that you really don’t want to have to do more than once.  So take the best course available and try to make it your only responsibility.

Take the time to take care of yourself.  Even though law school demands a lot from both you and your family, bar prep multiplies this demand and it is a time where you have to be selfish with your time. This also includes time to take care of yourself by allowing your brain to rest. Find something that allows your brain to reset. For me, it was playing video games that did not require a lot of thinking. I could just let my brain drift into a maze of instinctual responses totally devoid of life estates and corporate forms. Depending on what point I was in studying for the bar, I took about 10 to 15 minutes per hour of study per day to just relax. This allowed me to get back to studying and really let my brain absorb the materials.

If you have to, or feel that you can continue to build your firm during bar prep, make sure you limit it to tasks that are easily achievable and do not require much brain power. I personally did not complete any firm building tasks during bar prep because I felt that it would only be a distraction. However, I have heard of individuals who work on building their website, create their logo, or come up with simple forms for their firm.

Relax. One of the factors that is common in unsuccessful bar attempts is stress. This does not mean that you will not be on the edge of a panic attack throughout studying. You will have highs and lows. However, with practice and quality studying you will learn to curb this stress and turn it into productivity on the exam. Relax, this too shall pass.

Good Luck!

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