Having a solo law practice is great! It can be wonderful to be your own boss and call all the shots. The downside is that there may be no one to listen to you. Although it is rewarding to hang out your own shingle, it can get lonely.
Here are some ideas to get you connected with others in your field to share the highs and lows of solo law practice:
Find Lawyer Groups to Network With – You will find that your state bar association has many groups and divisions of like-minded attorneys who meet in your area. Join a couple of events to meet other attorneys. You may gain insights to improve your practice and perhaps a few referrals as well.
Attend Networking Events – There are many business to business networks or Chamber of Commerce organizations that organize networking events. Try a few and see which ones you enjoy and try to meet other professionals. They may have sound business advice and can refer clients to you once they know about you. Read more
Does a solopreneur need a business plan? Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” This is especially true when starting a business.
Going through the exercise of writing a business plan will focus you on your talents, strengths and weaknesses, and identify where you may need help with the launch of your business.
Additionally, you will need a business plan if you want a loan. Most startups, start small and self-finance the costs of setting up. However, if you were to ask a bank for a loan, they would want to see your business plan as part of the application process.
Your business plan does not need to be formal but should be organized. There are many books and online resources for writing a business plan. The US Small Business Association (SBA) is a great resource for developing your business plan at www.sba.gov.
In starting a law practice you want to handle all clients that come in the door. But as you hone your practice, you come to recognize your ideal client.
You should have a really clear picture of who your ideal client is. You should know their background, education, and interests.
Once you identify this, you can determine how best to market to this client. Using social media is an effective and low cost way of reaching your ideal client.
If you are a family law attorney and you find your clients are mostly women, consider using the social media site, Pinterest. According to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Foundation, over 2 times as many women than men use Pinterest. If you want to reach younger adults, try marketing through Instagram. Although 32% of adults use Instagram, 59% are under the age of 30. Do you want to reach older adults? Consider Facebook where 62% of adults age 65 or older use Facebook.
Karrie Bunting has blazed her own path in the law. While she was home with 4 young children and a husband who works in law enforcement with irregular hours, she attended Northwestern California University School of Law through their online program and is now a member of the California bar. She set up her mobile law practice to serve rural Central Valley California near Bakersfield. She focuses on estate planning and even makes house calls because her clients live far away (up to 70 miles!) and some are bed-ridden.
We asked her about the highs and lows of her practice and what advice she would share with those considering starting a solo law practice. She also talks about her love for Operation Smile and how she would like to master the Thriller Dance. You can catch up with her at www.karriebunting.com.
Q. What advice would you tell someone who is considering solo practice?
A. DO IT. Don’t listen to the other attorneys who think you are nuts. Turn down the job offers from those same attorneys who just want you to use your smarts and know how to make THEM money. And don’t be afraid to change it up if it doesn’t work for you. Change practice areas, change hours, or even take a job if it doesn’t work out. Give yourself the time and forgive yourself if you aren’t the attorney you want to be right away.
Q. Why did you make the leap to start your own law firm?Read more
One of the main reasons a solo lawyer or solopreneur starts their own practice is so they will have control over their hours. It is ironic then that some lawyers are putting in longer hours when they become their own boss.
In 2015, the BBC interviewed Americans and discovered that on average people did not take 40% of their entitled vacation. And that is vacation an employer would give an employee! Business owners take much less time off themselves.
As difficult as it seems, taking time for yourself, and away from your office, may be the healthiest thing you can do for you and your business. Here are 5 reasons why you should schedule that vacation:
Gain Perspective – Getting away from the daily pressure of deadlines, business challenges, difficult clients gives you a break to look at things differently. Sometimes by getting away from a problem, allows you to brainstorm a solution.
Discover New Ideas. Giving yourself a break permits you to pursue other interests and ideas. You can step away and learn more about law practice management, discover a new social media that might target your client base, learn more about SEO or technology to improve your practice, or research a new area of law or business to add to your practice or enterprise.