Attorneys in business for themselves may seem to have it made. They no longer have to follow the rules of a large firm or share their profits. They can set their own hours and choose their own clients. They don’t have a boss to answer to and are only limited by the extent of their own knowledge. It’s obviously the easy road to success, right? Think again.
As with any solo business, when you consider going out on your own as a lawyer you’ll find that for every advantage there is a potential roadblock in your path. The road to success isn’t always smooth just because you are choosing your own route. Thinking about how to run a solo law office may actually give you pause. It’s not as simple as you first thought.
So what are some of the issues that attorneys in business for themselves might face? Well, while you may not be sharing your earnings with the rest of a firm, you also don’t have the resources of a firm to rely on. Everything you need, from research to footwork and everything in between, you’ll now have to handle on your own. And that means that if there are any mistakes made, the blame can only lie with you.
At the same time, you’re also going to be solely responsible for marketing your business and bringing in new clients as well as handling the existing clients. When considering how to run a solo law firm, it would be nice if it was as simple as hanging out your own shingle and watching the customers file in, but rarely does it work that way. Marketing and promotion are ongoing efforts that can take a lot of your time and energy.
If you decide to hire a staff, even just one or two other people, then you will be responsible for overseeing their work as well as doing your own. Being a boss may be preferable to being one of the staff, but it brings its own share of responsibilities. Attorneys in business for themselves can’t always take the easy path, especially when the well being of others is now in your hands.
Another thing to consider when thinking about how to run a solo law firm is the fact that you aren’t guaranteed a substantial profit right out of the gate; there may actually be a prolonged period of low to no profits. You may be willing to accept this in the interests of making more in the long run, but if you are the main breadwinner for your family it could be a real problem.
Of course, if you can manage to handle these challenges and work through them, then you may just find yourself reaping considerable benefits as you establish your own business. Attorneys in business in solo practices often have more flexibility, allowing them to take on cases they might otherwise have had to turn down, and giving them the ability to focus on the area or areas of the law that they are most interested in.
There is a lot to be said for going out on your own as a solo attorney, but make sure you that you have a realistic idea of what to expect. Provided you do that, then you’ll be able to meet any challenge head on and there won’t be any roadblock that can detour your path to success.