How do you know if solo practice is right for you? Do you have what it takes to organize, manage, and assume all the risks of running a law practice?
As Bill Nye would say, please consider the following:
Solos get to call all the shots: client selection, case selection, setting fees, choosing a practice location – every decision that goes into running a practice. The responsibility rests on your shoulders. Do you find that appealing, daunting but doable, or overwhelming? If you answer is appealing or daunting but doable, please proceed.
Are You a Decider?
Some people are decisive, others are not. If you agonize over choices and normally poll multiple friends and family members before making a decision, solo practice will be difficult.
Solos need to make business and practice decisions every day. Some of these decisions must be made under pressure with little time to reflect. The reward, of course, is that you get to decide. You have the freedom and independence to use your creativity, knowledge, and skills to solve problems.
Are You a Self-Starter?
Solo practitioners must be self-regulating. Can you get the work out without someone supervising? Give regular attention to administrative tasks like billing and bookkeeping? It will be up to you to meet deadlines, organize your time, and follow through on details. If you are a good planner and organizer, your solo practice will be successful.
Are You a Marketer?
All lawyers in private practice are expected to develop business, but in a solo practice the pressure is greater. You’re it. Can you create your own networking opportunities and business contacts? Devote time to blogging or updating your website? Post to social media? Speak at CLEs? Write articles for bar publications? Build business referral relationships?
What resources are available to you? What financial demands and commitments do you have? Is it possible (or desirable) to apply for a micro loan, regular loan, or line of credit? Are you up for crowdfunding? Start by reviewing your expenses, then prepare a start-up and monthly budget. Read about other business/financial essentials here.
Drive, Stamina, and Work-Life Balance
Can you practice law, run a business, and keep it all in balance with your personal life? Are you strongly motivated? Healthy? Is your family supportive of your efforts? These are all good markers. Nonetheless, make a plan to care for yourself and manage stress. If you are looking for ideas or resources, contact the attorney counselors at the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program. Services are confidential and free to Oregon attorneys.
Solo practice requires a lot of time and work, but it also has benefits: no one looking over your shoulder, no pressure to take a particular client, freedom to work in the areas of law that you prefer, and complete flexibility in deciding when, where, and how to work. Is it a match for you?
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