Friday, December 09, 2011

Going solo

So I've decided to start up my own law firm.

I've been thinking about it for a while, investigating what I'd have to do to get it started, how it would work, who my clients would be, and so on. April's working part-time, and will continue to do so until I start bringing in enough money for us to get by. We're low maintenance, so hopefully that won't be too long.

Part of my reasoning has to do with the fact that I've sent out hundreds of resumes, had a dozen interviews, and still don't have a job. Good grades and good work experience can't make up for a lack of connections and a poor job market. The job market for new attorneys is particularly awful right now--other friends who also excelled in law school but didn't have the connections are struggling too. At least one of them has started up his own firm. Job prospects for the future look slim--I'm already starting to compete against the next class of law school grads.

The other part of my reasoning is that solo work tends to be a lot more interesting than working elsewhere. I've done a little work for an in-house counsel at a medium-sized company in Idaho Falls, and I've done work a little work for the solo attorney in our small (population 4000) town. There is no question that the solo attorney gets more interesting work. To be honest, the business law stuff I've done for the company bores me to death. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten a lot of work at either place.

The solo attorney I've done work for is the only one in this town, and he only does law half-time. He's more than ten years past retirement age. Most towns in Idaho seem to have one attorney for every thousand people; our town has 1/2 for four thousand. I think the majority of people here go to Idaho Falls when they want an attorney; I'd be a more convenient option.

The big downsides: start-up costs. I'd need money for an office, phone, and internet (around $300/month total--pretty reasonable). I'd need money for advertising (website, business cards, small ad in phone book and some money for Google). Business license is cheap. A couple of bank accounts shouldn't cost much, if anything. Equipment might run me some money--a desk, a printer that can handle large loads and has cheap ink (lawyers use a lot of paper), a couple of chairs, frames for my licenses and degrees, office supplies. Total start-up cost would only be a couple thousand dollars, but I'd need to take out a business loan.

Also--it's risky. A regular job offers benefits including healthcare. This wouldn't. A regular job offers guaranteed income. This wouldn't--and some projects wouldn't see income for years (for example, a personal injury case where I get 1/3 of whatever my client gets, but I have to wait a long time to get it).

I'd also have to keep my moderate leanings to myself. Nothing would make me unpopular faster than telling my small-town potential clients that the only presidential candidates I would vote for are Huntsman and Obama.

On the upside, I would have a lot more freedom. And the money I made would be mine to keep--it wouldn't go to my boss. Plus, going solo is a lot more exciting than working for the man.

I hope to have things running before the new year. Wish me luck...


alison said...

Good luck! That's an exciting enterprise, and we hope it works out great for you!

Jenni said...

I don't know if you'll need a certain type of business card (et al), but vistaprint has very good prices for those kinds of things (and constant rotating sales). The cards I've gotten from them were quite professional, and you can pay a smidge extra for the raised ink and other little touches like that.

Katrina said...

Wow, definitely good luck! This sounds like it might be a good option for you. I've been wondering how things are going, so thanks for the update. I hope things go well! Oh, and I second the Vistaprint idea; I've liked their cards too.

Tim said...

Thanks for the encouragement and advice. I know business cards are cheap--I'll have some sent to me as soon as I have a business address and a business phone number. I already set up a website, but I think I'm going to change the domain name and make some major changes to it.

Looks like the hardest part will be finding start-up money for furniture, rent, etc. Banks don't like to loan money to new businesses...