Apr 29, 2013
You’re Hired! (But I Just Went Solo?)
This happens more than you know. In the process of planning for a solo practice, building their web presence, letting people know they are going solo, the lawyer gets a job offer she simply can’t decline. Unusual? Not at all. I’ll explain.
When you embark on starting a solo practice you are consciously reframing your own attitude about what it means to be a practicing lawyer. You are shifting from the mindset of ‘employee’ and ‘I need to be trained’ to ‘self-employed’ and “I need to start producing business on my own”. You are no longer asking permission to function in the legal world based upon others’ judgment and acceptance of you. You are now accepting yourself non-judgmentally and giving yourself permission to be a business person, rainmaker and legal services provider. You no longer have your nose pressed up against any sized law firm’s window hoping you will be noticed amongst the crush of others. You have stepped back from the crush. You have decided to build your own career and life.
This is really heady stuff. This radical shift in your attitude about yourself and your relationship to the professional community, colleagues, judges and clients and the non-legal world you live in emanates from you. You are putting yourself out there as an independent, free thinking self-starter. You are now changing the way you connect with colleagues because you no longer view them as future employers but as peers. You are deliberately learning life long marketing skills to promote your capabilities, not sitting back in a job waiting for a senior partner to hand you a file. You are actively defining and methodically seeking out your ideal client, not reacting to the mandates of others. You are building a laser-focused global ‘personal’ brand, not being absorbed by someone else’s vision of you and your place in the legal eco-system or lack thereof.
With this change in perspective and attitude, potential employers will actually start to take notice as you navigate yourself through the legal community both online and off.
I have been approached several times by headhunters specifically asking if I know self-starting solos who may be interested in joining a small firm for advancement and even partnership. Yes, they call me even in this economy.
Recently, I received three separate e-mails from people who started creating their business plans for solo practice, started to connect to colleagues in a different way….getting job offers which they took.
Why were they approached now? It’s a good question. Here’s the answer. They showed confidence, initiative, a sense of how to build a business, understood what they needed to do to build a web presence, had already branded themselves…. and these are all very attractive qualities to prospective employers or those looking to even bring in partners in their small firms. I just helped prep a young lady in the UK for an interview with an attorney. What did she have to do for prep? She had to show him how to improve his website. No kidding. She’s a highly skilled lawyer, top of her class. This is part of her job interview.
You may ask, “if these lawyers were so committed to going solo, why did they accept jobs?” I have a motto: Plant as many seeds as possible…you never know what will grow. Life is about giving yourself options and the flexibility to answer the door when opportunity knocks. By showing they didn’t necessarily need employment, they became desirable and were courted. Yet, everyone is different. What matters is whether or not it was the right choice for them and what the incentives were which made it appealing.
When I consulted I also had many clients accept jobs; jobs which would never have been available to them had they not started the process of going solo. They openly acknowledge this because they are the ones who told me once they repositioned themselves in the community, changed their own perspectives, redirected their energies towards building a business rather than getting a job, they became very attractive to their new employers and the jobs offered were just too perfect to decline.
For some strange reason my clients thought I would be disappointed they got a legal job working for someone else. Absolutely NOT. Life is about options, the best options for each of us. Just because I will help those who want to go solo doesn’t mean I’m unhappy when they don’t. I want lawyers to feel fulfilled with their careers, to understand there are many ways to practice law. There is happiness in all types of practices. The Solo Practice University blog’s focus happens to be with the benefits one can derive practicing law as a solo. But if you are happy practicing law in whatever form you’re doing so, that’s the ultimate gratification, for you and me.
Did you decide to go solo and then get a job offer? Please share.