Monday, March 1, 2010

A Reader Sees Hypocrisy On Going Solo


You've done several recent posts that seem to encourage solo practice, contrary to your advice to me when we first met. Personally, as one of those people "you reading this from a couch, or a Starbucks, lamenting why no one thinks you're entitled to a career," I've considered it. But let's be real: there are a lot of barriers to entry. Even in the otherwise heartwarming story you posted the other day about the guy doing foreclosure defense, the punch line is the legislature just made it much more difficult for him to get paid.

How about writing a post that explains some of the basics of learning your trade--CLEs? treatises? Setting up your business structure, bank accounts, malpractice insurance, good practices etc?


So let me see if I can get myself out of this mess.

First, as to the second part of the reader's email: Here's a bunch of posts I've written on solo practice.

To sum it up:

First figure out what type of law you want to practice.

I know when I say that, most of today's law school graduates respond: "But I never went to law school to become a certain type of lawyer, I just went for the paycheck at the end. Whatever type of law that is - that's what I want to practice."

As to the first part, no, I don't advocate solo practice out of law school. I also don't advocate that if you cut yourself and are bleeding, that you urinate on the cut to sterilize it. However, if you have no other options, it's probably better that you do that, then allowing yourself to become infected. Exploring the option of solo practice, rather than playing video games while waiting for Oprah to start or hoping someone at Starbuck's notices you typing feverishly on your laptop and offers you a job, is the better move.

If you explore the solo path, and it doesn't work for you because you don't feel competent to go solo, or it doesn't interest you because you believe the hype of BigLaw that solos are somehow less of a lawyer than those who pray to the mahogany and billable hour God, then here's my advice: If you went to law school to get a job and you cannot get that job, get another job. Yes, do something else. While I know that most lawyers are perceived to have no other interest than law, I bet there is something else you can do, even if it's not exactly what you wanted to do. I know that is a foreign concept to those who feel entitled to a specific job, but it's better to pay your bills, then have someone else pay them while you wait for the job that you thought was guaranteed at the end of your 3 year yellow brick road.

Thanks for writing (and I won't tell anyone that you are doing other things to pay the bills right now, it offends those who won't).

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.



W.R. Eilers said...

Great Post!! It is definitely not the easiest endeavor to go solo, but one should not be discouraged by the mountains of things that could be hindrances. At some point, you have to just build a plan and stick to it. Be aware of the pitfalls, but don't let them stop you from trying. For all your efforts and success, I commend you and the many others who inspire those of us trying to start things up.

Mike said...

Brian, if you readers think it is difficult at 20-something, they should try going solo at 60 after 32 years not practicing. But I'm doing it, and paying the bills (just barely) after two months.