More years ago than I’d like to remember, a cousin sold me my first whole life insurance policy. At the time, he was new to the business and initially made some money selling policies to family–aunts, uncles, cousins–you name it. However, after that initial flurry, he didn’t do well and soon dropped out of the business. Bottom line, he didn’t know how to prospect and market himself. That combined with but a neophyte’s knowledge of his products did him in.
What does have to do with fledgling lawyers going solo? Not much, except that building a client base is crucial to success. Sure, for your extended family, you can prepare wills, help hem to buy and sell houses, incorporate a business, negotiate a settlement when cousin Bruce’s car is hit in the rear–what I refer to as a “slam dunk.” But where do you go from there?
In this day-and-age, many solo practitioners have unique challenges. The law, like medicine, is becoming increasingly specialized. In the medical field, GPs are rare, with many serving as “Primary Care Physicians,” often with a certification in internal medicine. Patients trek to urologists, nephrologists, gastroenterologists, cardiologists, etc. (All with an “ist” at the end) You get the picture.
The same “phenomenon” has impacted the legal profession. An increasing number of budding lawyers specialize in tax or international law (picking up an LL.M along the way), bankruptcy, environmental law, various aspects of intellectual property, etc.
At the same time–and it’s been going on for years–more and more young lawyers are chasing a dwindling number of jobs. A few months ago, a major firm in the DC lopped off roughly 250 attorneys from its payroll. Granted, it’s a large firm with a specialized practice, but the shrinkage, the slowdown, continues throughout the profession, at firms large and small, handling all kinds of matters. Indeed, some attorneys are slinging hash at the local bistro, waiting for times to get better.
In this market, some of you have said–or might think–that “I want to be the master of my own domain.” All well and good. At the same time, not many of us have that rich uncle who wants you to manage his widespread legal, business, and financial interests.
Let’s face it: I’m not telling you guys anything new. Indeed, many involved with Solo Practice University have a thriving solo practice. That’s great. At the same time, others are struggling to “make it.”
Solo Practice University is doing a great job of addressing the unique challenges and opportunities of a solo practice. In this regard, I have contributed to the blog–at times to a mixed reception. So be it!
In any event, at the risk of delving into yesterday’s news, in the next–and concluding–installment, I’m going to address the question, “What to do?” with suggestions, some drawn from my personal experience over the years. I realize that some readers will click-on-by. But if I can reach one–hopefully more than one—reader, and help make a difference, it will be worthwhile.
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.