If you are anything like I was right out of law school, you have a one-track mind and already made this decision without my help. But if you have decided to give this issue the consideration it deserves, the information contained in this article should prove useful in your decision-making process. I can provide you with some pros and cons from my firsthand experiences. Here are some issues to consider while deciding whether you should open your own law practice.
Let me preface this information by saying, you can do it if you want to. I opened a law practice right out of law school and I was earning six figures by my second year. Whether you will enjoy it is another question entirely.
The first issue to consider is this: Do you want a second career? Because that’s what you will be getting yourself into when you open your own law practice. You will be a lawyer and a businessperson. Not always in that particular order. In fact, running a successful business can prove much more difficult than practicing law, depending on the areas in which you practice. You will have to deal with training and supervising employees, payroll and taxes, malpractice insurance, marketing, and an entire host of other issues you wouldn’t normally deal with as an associate at a another law firm or government agency.
Secondly, you will have much more contact with clients. A mentor once told me, “Clients take all the joy out of the practice of Law.” Well, if there was any joy in the practice of Law to begin with, he was right. Clients are much more likely to call a solo practitioner often than they would someone at a larger firm. And getting clients is one thing; getting your clients to pay is another. There were no classes in law school titled Legal Fees 101 or Getting Deadbeat Clients to Pay.
Finally, the stress of being an attorney is formidable. The stress of owning and operating your own law practice is even greater. There are so many added responsibilities. And it is very difficult for an attorney with his own practice to leave his work at the office every night. Even if the files are locked away in your office filing cabinet, you can’t leave your thoughts and worries behind.
After several years of practicing law on my own, I needed a break. After writing a novel and taking in a year’s worth sunsets in Hawaii, I’m ready to return. And even with all the added stress and worries that come with owning my own law practice, I can’t really see myself working for anyone else. So, if you are considering opening your own law practice, it probably means you don’t care to work for anyone but yourself. So as the philosopher Goethe so eloquently said, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”