Vote for Winner of BSP@SPU Birthday Scholarship to SPU

It’s time to vote for the winner of the Solo Practice University Birthday Scholarship:

First, here are the entries:

1. JO

I went to law school to become a plaintiff’s trial lawyer based on a desire to help injured people obtain justice.

The exposures I had as a child growing up in a large working class family right outside of Boston surely shaped this mindset. At a young age I remember hearing stories about kids my age dying of cancer from factories poisoning the water in Woburn, MA (the true story for which the book A Civil Action was based upon) and grew up in a town where my grandfather spent all his life working with asbestos at the industrial plant that caused the mesothelioma he later died from.

These and other plaintiff personal injury stories shaped my growing up years. Deep down in my heart and soul, I knew that I wanted to do plaintiff’s work even before I knew it by name.

Due to a very personal family tragedy, I had to defer my dream of moving back east to start law school because I had to continue working full time for the first year. As a result, I started at a part time evening law program. I was fortunate to do exceedingly well and transferred to a top tier school at the start of my second year.

While there, I delved in every single trial course experience that I could. I was a team captain in mock trial competitions, became a trial advocacy scholar, and received the International Trial Lawyers Award amongst others. I graduated with honors and received an offer at a big law firm this past summer at a time where the legal market imploded and many friends were losing their jobs.

Trust me, the money was incredibly tempting. Like so many of us, I sacrificed a lot to get through law school, including acquiring high six figures debt. Yet as tempting as the high salary was especially in this type of economy, I knew in my heart that I couldn’t sell out on my dream, that I had to stay true to myself and my goal.

Thus, upon graduating and passing the bar this July, I chose to strike out on my own. My goal is to help the consumer, help the small business, and help the injured obtain justice. So I am striking out on my own as a solo by choice. I have a plan set in place, am ready to go and should be ready to start fresh out of law school.

While I am not able to afford to attend SPU while I try and keep my overhead expenses very low, I would be thrilled to have the chance. If you vote for me, I can promise I will do my very best to utilize this opportunity in the best possible way to help others.

Thank you very much for your vote, thank you Susan for the opportunity, and Happy Birthday.

JO

2. RC

When I was eight years old I dressed up as a lawyer for Halloween. I had my briefcase, glasses and I improvised a suit. Why? Because while my family was going through a bitter divorce I was appointed my own lawyer. She was fantastic because she listened to me and what I wanted. She never made me feel as if the divorce was my fault or my feelings and opinions didn’t matter. I felt she was on my side. While I never understood how she did it, the end result was what I wanted, to live with my father. I knew then I wanted to grow up to be a lawyer.

I just recently graduated from Loyola. I’ve always known I want to go solo. I want to represent kids through the dissolution process. I’ve lived the process. But when it comes to running a business I know little to nothing. When it comes to marketing I might as well be asked if I’m fluent in Hungarian. Getting an opportunity like this to kick start my professional career would be incredible.

I’m continually amazed how little information there is out there for solos.

So, I thank you for creating Solo Practice University even though at this time it’s not within my budget. The faculty here is incredible and to be able to learn from all of them would be a blessing.

I’m not effusive, I know. But this appeal is heartfelt. My professional goal is unwavering. Thank you for your consideration.

3. Debt-Ridden

I’ll be honest with you. I graduated top of my class from a top tier school but the magic is gone. You’ve read all the stories. I won’t bother spreading the misery here. Yet it left those who had every intention of going into the large firms worse off then those who never felt it was their calling because they, at least from what I hear, started earlier figuring out business and marketing out of necessity. The rest of us are on the deck of the Titanic and the life boats are leaving.

I will more than likely have to figure out what needs to be done to open my own practice because I’m not a quitter. Whether I go with another fellow grad remains to be seen. We will both have to have skills even in a partnership.

What I will not do is leave the profession because school and the profession left me – high and dry!

I would appreciate this scholarship because I need a crash course, immersion learning, on starting my own practice. Books are great if they are all you have available to you. However, seeing your faculty lecturing on video on the about page is very compelling and I know it’s a great way to learn, at least for me.

I’m tossing my hat in the ring for no other reason then I could really use this opportunity. VOTE FOR ME!

4. CJ

Wow! I would love to be able to take advantage of everything SPU has to offer! I graduated from law school in May, and passed the Oregon bar in July. I started my own practice in October.

A little about me:
I started law school as a single mom, with a two year-old son. I had just gotten divorced, had no job, and no idea what to do next. So I went to law school. I loved it! While in school I met my amazing and wonderful partner, and last December had my second child. Yes, in the middle of law school. I brought my newborn to every class with me the last semester of school, and managed to study for and pass the bar with a 6 month old (and a really helpful five year old!).

So of course, starting my practice with my children at my side seems pretty natural to me. I share an office two days a week right now with another solo, and work from home the rest of the week. I’m able to bring my son with me to the office any time I want, and I’m there to pick my older son up from kindergarten every afternoon.

My “niche” is going to be helping women, mainly in family law, but also with employment, and some business and estate planning. After spending the last year of law school going through a custody dispute with my ex husband, I really gained an appreciation for family law.

A little about my inspiration:
I picked up Jay Foonberg’s book somewhere between my first and second years of law school. I read it and knew deep down, this was the right choice for me. His reasons for starting right away and not getting a few years experience at a firm helped me to dispel some of my fears, but the idea of starting out on my own still just seemed like a fun, but not very practical, plan. But I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, and in the current economic climate, it seemed like there was really no downside.

And then I stumbled onto Carolyn Elefant’s blog after taking the bar, and read this:

“. . .there’s no competition for a job which hasn’t yet been announced at a firm that doesn’t yet exist. That position is yours for the taking, provided of course, that you create it.”

I decided that she was right, and I had to go for it. Since then, I’ve been devouring any resource I can find on the web to help me with marketing and getting myself out there, as well as networking with some great lawyers, both online and locally. I’m beyond excited about this “job” I’ve created for myself. I have the drive and determination to succeed as a solo, and I would get so much out of a scholarship to SPU. Vote for me because I am seriously passionate about my new career as a solo attorney!

5. MRL

When I was in law school I couldn’t take enough courses on anything related to solo practice. There weren’t courses specifically titled this because it’s not exactly a career choice encouraged but you can figure out which ones will be more useful. They were more skills-oriented like trial practice, clinic, negotiation, client relations. Even accounting for lawyers.

I knew all through my growing up years I could never work for anyone. I come from a family of entrepreneurs – a self-made mother who has never worked for anyone. A father who has run his own business since graduating high school. Maybe it’s just in my blood.

I am, however, the first person to go to graduate school. Starting my own law practice is the pinnacle. It’s not a question of ‘if’. It’s not a question of whether or not I’ll be successful. I will be. What I need now is greater access to more practical education and Solo Practice University appears to be everything I wish was available to me while I was in school.

I just passed the bar exam and have been working diligently on my business plan. My website is up. My connections are being made. I need to fast-track practical training and SPU is it.

I actually have friends already inside. (They are the ones who told me about the contest.) They can’t say enough good things about all they are learning.
Thank you for creating SPU.

I’d like to join them with this scholarship!

6. KFL

Thanks for this great opportunity. This post was passed along to me from someone who has been following Build A Solo Practice since its inception. And now that I’ve discovered it I will clearly become a fan. I have not found too many other resources, even though I’m sure they’re out there.

I literally have no choice but to go solo. I am currently a student at a T4 school. (That’s not why I have no choice.) I am also a non-traditional student who will be taking the bar in both New Jersey and Maryland because circumstances require me to be very flexible.

I have to prepare to reside permanently in either state depending upon where my fiancee gets her residency. For many reasons I do not consider myself an attractive candidate for law firms because I have a track record of entrepreneurship since I was in my teens and extremely independent. And others have flat out told me I’m not a good candidate. Most importantly, I’m simply not interested in being employed. (But it’s fair to say that is not really an option for the most part in 2009)

What I find most appealing about Solo Practice University is learning from other entrepreneurs who did not want to be employed. I’ve noticed many larger firm lawyers who went solo now teaching. This intrigues me. I really like the idea of these mini-communities as well as being taught the business end of practice. I’m sure if I scoured the net long enough I could find the isolated course or a free listserv. I prefer having it all in one place. Quite frankly, as someone with limited time to get things done, I don’t want to first figure out where to go and hope for the best.

I’m very impressed with the faculty choices and my hope is soon you will bring on someone to teach immigration.

Thank you for your consideration. This would mean the world to me.

7. Jennifer B

I just graduated and passed the bar!!! And have been reading your blog since my first semester.

With this economy precarious at best, I am more than extremely interested in going solo.

There are four law schools where I live and the competition for jobs (what few there are) is rather cutthroat.

But more than that, I’ve always wanted to strike and on my own and own my professional future. In my opinion, the only way to do this is with a more learned profession and to be part of the firm you own.

It may also sound so cliche but I want the privilege of picking the clients I want to help. I know this may be a benefit after my practice has grown but it is one which is very important to me.

I need Solo Practice University because my business skills are sorely lacking. I have good common sense but I need a basic education. Based upon what I see there are many faculty who can help me to achieve some level of confidence after I’ve taken their course.

I’ve always been both efficient and competent at my work no matter what I undertake. But I’m fearful I won’t be able to attract clients. I also want to network with others who want to go solo. It won’t be so lonely. And I think it might even be energizing to exchange ideas for success.

I have yet to see anything like SPU. You’re doing a great service here especially with the modest tuition cost. Plus, after following you for three years (happy birthday, BTW), I trust you. After seeing the impressive faculty you’ve brought on board, my trust has not been misplaced.

8. Scott L

Here’s my story. I graduated near the top of my class in law school and was offered employment at a top law firm in the area (after working there during the summer between my 2nd and 3rd years of law school). About 2 weeks before I was scheduled to start I got ‘the call’. My employment was deferred, indefinitely. In other words, unless the economy changes, I will not work there.

Prior to law school I was an engineer for 6 years with a successful career, but was unhappy. I loved law school and chose to change careers. About 6 months ago my first son was born, so now I have a family to support and no job to pay the bills.

Therefore, necessity has led me to attempt to establish myself as a solo practitioner. I know it won’t be easy, but I am hardworking and have an entrepreneurial spirit, so I am excited. In fact, I don’t think I’ll be going back to biglaw, even if they do come calling. Working for myself, as long as I can pay the bills is actually a dream come true. I’ll actually have time to watch my son grow up.

I hope that you choose me for the Solo Practice University. Thanks!

Your vote matters for one lucky new graduate to win this great scholarship. You can only vote once (multiple votes from same ISP will be purged) and voting is open until midnight November 30th. Winner will be announced on December 1st.

Help a new graduate get this great one year scholarship to Solo Practice University. Spread the word!
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