Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Starting a solo practice without a brick and mortar office

I'm laying out the groundwork for a solo personal injury and trickydick05/08/17
Have you read this?? http://www.younglawyersguide.com/ lawyer205/08/17
I've been going over it. Lots of useful advice, some stuff t trickydick05/08/17
what works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another dingbat05/08/17
Just read the relevant portion regarding office space, recep trickydick05/08/17
Currently doing some work on a contract-basis for an attorne banana05/08/17
That seems to be the way of it in this field. What one guy d trickydick05/08/17
Why not look into office-sharing so you have a legitimate ph saulgoodmanwannabe05/10/17
What are you doing for legal research, forms, etc.? isthisit05/08/17
You don't need much in terms of legal research in either of trickydick05/08/17
Use a virtual office. Geez, TD, how old are you? Even I kn imoothereforeim05/08/17
A friend recommended this. Idea sounds interesting, don't kn trickydick05/08/17
If your financial position is so shaky that you cannot affor mrtor05/08/17
It would take me another two years to save up enough cash in trickydick05/08/17
Sometimes its about what you have to do rather than what you mrtor05/08/17
Seconded. I think the mechanics are less difficult than anothernjlawyer05/08/17
My main selling point to potential clients will be that with trickydick05/08/17
Excellent distinction - I spent a lot of time on my website adamb05/11/17
You should look into Wework. You can book a desk/space or co ipesq05/08/17
Ever since my brief experience with uber, these shared econo trickydick05/08/17
I think fairly negatively of wework, but there are plenty of dingbat05/08/17
Can we just take a step back here? You say that you want to ruralattorney05/08/17
This is huge. Unless you somehow take several settlement-rea mrtor05/08/17
I've thought about that a lot. I've advised others against g trickydick05/08/17
where are you going to get clients? that is a much bigger i tttsolo05/08/17
TD has connections via one paralegal. Less we say about thi imoothereforeim05/08/17
Moo, what would we do without your mirthful sense of humor? trickydick05/08/17
I'm aware of that. Everyone in the business gives each other trickydick05/08/17
I started my practice with a virtual office. adamb05/08/17
What did you think about it? trickydick05/08/17
For crim, it did the trick because we met at the courts. I d adamb05/08/17
I am getting set up to go solo and have a similar dilemma. I wtretire05/08/17
Tricky, you can start with a virtual office. You will have a guyingorillasuit05/08/17
I've given a lot of thought to this and I'm going to have to trickydick05/08/17
Once the insurance defense bar figures out that you can't fi ruralattorney05/08/17
You must have skipped over this part, "I've given a lot of t trickydick05/08/17
I have enough experience with worker's comp to know that you ruralattorney05/08/17
"Have you worked in a firm?" You're obviously new here. T trickydick05/08/17
If you are going to be snarky, try to be right. Nowhere in ruralattorney05/08/17
You aren't hiring him, the proletariat underclass of cretins vohod05/08/17
The one dude I know that succeeded without an office was the superttthero05/08/17
If you have a solid case which you think you can handle, but guyingorillasuit05/08/17
I'd never hire a virtual lawyer to handle a personal matter isthisit05/08/17
They also want to believe that you are successful and know w ruralattorney05/08/17
I tend to agree with you, but office rents vary depending on guyingorillasuit05/08/17
Pretty sure you're talking over ruralattorney's head. From h trickydick05/08/17
Trickydick, if you want to keep shooting the messenger rathe ruralattorney05/08/17
I don't think that you need anything fancy, but you need som ruralattorney05/08/17
You sound like you have some experience being on the receivi trickydick05/08/17
Not once, I am proud to say. But I did serve on the profess ruralattorney05/08/17
I agree, it is sad that you honestly think you're trying to trickydick05/08/17
So how much experience do you have? EDIT: Nevermind. I f ruralattorney05/08/17
You should really read the thread where I cautioned against trickydick05/08/17
Allright, I've changed my mind. I encourage you to open up ruralattorney05/08/17
I've read through this whole thread, and I have to agree wit disappearedattorney05/09/17
I still think an office is a waste of money, but I understan jeffm05/08/17
If money is truly an issue, I think that shared office space ruralattorney05/08/17
how dare you guys stomp on a dream. fly, little bird, fly! t whiteguyinchina05/09/17
Here are some thoughts from other smart people: "An offic ruralattorney05/09/17
In sum: Undercapitalized, underexperienced, underequipped, a mrtor05/09/17
I started my solo practice working out of the spare bedroom blakesq05/09/17
Understood, Mike, but starting off a solo patent practice af inho2solo05/09/17
Let me add in my two cents here. I think whether a brick an caj11105/09/17
This thread was narrowly tailored to address the issue of pe trickydick05/09/17
Don't listen to the naysayers. You sound similar to me - so adamb05/11/17
Good luck. inho2solo05/09/17
i was once where you were-i am less concerned with the offic tttsolo05/10/17
Best of luck in whatever you decide to do. Regardless you ar prodigy05/10/17
By the way, in addition to my few other comments here, remem adamb05/11/17
I do appreciate the observation, adamb. I recognize that guy trickydick05/11/17
Consider an SBA loan, tricky. guyingorillasuit05/11/17
Loans of any kind are on the table along with many other opt trickydick05/11/17

trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 2:46 pm)

I'm laying out the groundwork for a solo personal injury and workers' compensation practice. I already have everything I need to handle cases in terms of equipment: a desk, a computer, internet access, a printer, a scanner, and a phone.

The one thing I can't do with the starting capital available to me is rent office space. I would have to work out of my home and meet with clients at their homes or in public. I know some attorneys who have also done this, but I can't say any of them have enjoyed a successful solo practice thus far. And I can't say how much their lack of an office has to do with it.

Anyone have thoughts on this?

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lawyer2 (May 8, 2017 - 2:58 pm)

Have you read this??

http://www.younglawyersguide.com/

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 3:49 pm)

I've been going over it. Lots of useful advice, some stuff that contradicts the experiences of some solos I have known. It puts me in the position of having to decide who and what I believe.

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dingbat (May 8, 2017 - 4:00 pm)

what works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 7:09 pm)

Just read the relevant portion regarding office space, receptionists, and the ego trip. Sounds like jeffm would be good with working out of a dumpster next to a phone booth. I can get on board with that.

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banana (May 8, 2017 - 4:39 pm)

Currently doing some work on a contract-basis for an attorney that does this exact thing. He does very well for himself.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 5:09 pm)

That seems to be the way of it in this field. What one guy does makes him rich, another guy does the same thing and he's bankrupt. The arbitrariness of it all is reminiscent of law school exams.

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saulgoodmanwannabe (May 10, 2017 - 9:27 am)

Why not look into office-sharing so you have a legitimate physical address and a place to meet with clients.

I'm in a flyover state but have had attorneys let me pay $50 or $75 a month to have a mailing address and a conference room to use as needed.

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isthisit (May 8, 2017 - 2:49 pm)

What are you doing for legal research, forms, etc.?

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 2:53 pm)

You don't need much in terms of legal research in either of these fields, most of what I need I can get from practice manuals and the like and I can go to a law library when I really need resources. Down the line when I can afford the luxury I'd pay for Lexis Nexis.

Most forms can be downloaded online and there are other resources available. If need be, I can even purchase some legal software.

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imoothereforeim (May 8, 2017 - 2:51 pm)

Use a virtual office. Geez, TD, how old are you? Even I know about this.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 2:54 pm)

A friend recommended this. Idea sounds interesting, don't know anyone who has used one. Any personal experience with a virtual office?

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mrtor (May 8, 2017 - 3:12 pm)

If your financial position is so shaky that you cannot afford to lease any office space, you should seriously examine whether you're prepared to strike out on your own. I am not aware of any successful attorneys who practice without an office -- that's something to consider, especially as a plaintiff-petitioner's attorney. Good clients want a successful attorney to represent them and the office is a visible display of that success. All things being even, is the client more likely to sign a representation agreement with the guy who met them in a McDonald's or the guy who brought them into his mahogany office?

At the very least, I think you should approach local firms about leasing time in their conference rooms. You need a proper place to meet clients if you're going to get a successful practice off the ground.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 3:51 pm)

It would take me another two years to save up enough cash in hand to pay my rent, bills, and office space for about a year or so. That's a loose calculation that doesn't factor in money for any advertising I may decide to do.

I don't want to wait that long. I'd like to be ready to make the jump in the next six months.

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mrtor (May 8, 2017 - 4:06 pm)

Sometimes its about what you have to do rather than what you want to do. If you pull the trigger without sufficient capital, you're likely to end up failed, broke, and searching for work in a matter of months. If you do it right, you could have a career practice ahead of you. The Lincoln Lawyer was a movie, not a guide to a successful transient solo practice. You need an office or ondemand office space.

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anothernjlawyer (May 8, 2017 - 4:54 pm)

Seconded.

I think the mechanics are less difficult than the optics. Sure, you can write briefs from home, and meet people at the library, and be every it as competent as someone in a fancy office. The problem is, your potential clients don't know that.

Driving into Philadelphia (for example), there are dozens of huge billboards for two kinds of lawyers: PI and Workers Comp. Without more information, clients aren't going to pick "I have a cellphone," Esq., over "I have 5 billboards," Esq.

I would think that, if you aren't going to have an office, you need to have a rockstar website, and a very well thought-out, targeted plan for picking those cases. What that is, I don't know.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 6:21 pm)

My main selling point to potential clients will be that with me they get an attorney. With the big firms they get a mill that treats them like cattle. With the right kind of potential client, that may make a big difference.

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adamb (May 11, 2017 - 6:09 pm)

Excellent distinction - I spent a lot of time on my websites making similar pitches. Worked well enough in combination with other factors. People want a guy who is available, knowledgable, and reliable.

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ipesq (May 8, 2017 - 3:17 pm)

You should look into Wework. You can book a desk/space or conference room as needed.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 3:59 pm)

Ever since my brief experience with uber, these shared economy tech companies have given me pause. Any system that would let me book a conference room to meet with clients on an as needed basis is welcome, but anything more is excessive at this point and I'd really rather work from home for a number of reasons.

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dingbat (May 8, 2017 - 4:01 pm)

I think fairly negatively of wework, but there are plenty of places where you can rent an office by the hour. Just google "rent office hour location"

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 4:27 pm)

Can we just take a step back here? You say that you want to do personal injury and worker's compensation. This is arguably the worst type of practice to have money start flowing in sooner than later.

I think that you are making a BIG mistake here.

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mrtor (May 8, 2017 - 4:46 pm)

This is huge. Unless you somehow take several settlement-ready cases with you, you're looking at a minimum of 1-2 years before you have anything approaching steady cash flow.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 6:31 pm)

I've thought about that a lot. I've advised others against going solo in PI and comp precisely because of the delay in creating a revenue stream. I won't see significant money coming in until 18 to 24 months after I open up the first cases.

My options are simple.

1. Wait several years until I've saved enough cash to survive this period of drought.

2. Borrow enough money to survive until the settlements begin pouring in.

3. Take cases that require upfront retainers.

I don't want to engage in fields of practice that require retainers or hourly billing because convincing clients to pay for services out of pocket is harder than getting clients to give you their cases on a contingency fee basis. Plus the only fields of law in which I have experience that require upfront payment have the bad habit of involving cases that can get very complicated, very quickly: family law, immigration, and bankruptcy. These overlap in terms of clientele, but they require vastly different skill sets and it's easy to get in over your head on even simple cases. When the rubber hits the road, I don't want to have to worry about chasing clients for money, either.

Contingency cases are cleaner in that respect. You don't negotiate your bill with the client. You get your cut once you deliver and your client can't change that.

So it's either save up my pennies for two or three or five years, or borrow money and hope the settlements come in before the axe drops. If things go south I get a crash course in filing a bankruptcy case and have to live with that on my credit rating.

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tttsolo (May 8, 2017 - 4:34 pm)

where are you going to get clients? that is a much bigger issue

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imoothereforeim (May 8, 2017 - 4:47 pm)

TD has connections via one paralegal. Less we say about this the better.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 5:48 pm)

Moo, what would we do without your mirthful sense of humor? You moo therefore you are.

I'm exploring multiple avenues for client referral sources.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 6:30 pm)

I'm aware of that. Everyone in the business gives each other knowing glances and mentions knowing guys who know guys who can bring you clients. And they claim that if you're starting out in this field, you've got to pay to play.

Maybe they're right and maybe they're wrong. But I don't intend to rely on cappers. That means that the options open to me include online advertising, attorney referral services, doctor referrals, and any other form of advertising I'm willing to pay for.

I'm keeping my options open and asking around.

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adamb (May 8, 2017 - 5:20 pm)

I started my practice with a virtual office.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 5:35 pm)

What did you think about it?

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adamb (May 8, 2017 - 6:46 pm)

For crim, it did the trick because we met at the courts. I don't know if this would work for PI.

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wtretire (May 8, 2017 - 5:46 pm)

I am getting set up to go solo and have a similar dilemma. I found an attorney who is willing to sublet me an office with unlimited conference room access at a great building in town. This attorney is a solo as well, and his practice area does not overlap with mine. I have given the matter considerable thought and have decided to go for the office with a six month commitment.
I know others who have found similar arrangements. If you poke around you may very well be able to find a similar arrangement in your area.

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guyingorillasuit (May 8, 2017 - 5:52 pm)

Tricky, you can start with a virtual office. You will have a business address to receive mail, and X number of hours a month to meet clients in a conference room. Some places provide you with a cubicle for work space, and some others provide telephone-answering services.

The question is: how will you afford investigators and accident reconstructionists? You can get doctors on a lien (though everyone will know they are on a lien), but how about non-medical experts?

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 6:39 pm)

I've given a lot of thought to this and I'm going to have to focus primarily on comp cases initially. The reason being that there are almost no out of pocket expenses for filing and prosecuting a comp claim and the procedural requirements are as informal as those for your typical mediation. There is even a statute that requires an insurance carrier to pay you attorney's fees if they take the deposition of your client, regardless of whether or not the claim is accepted or denied.

To the extent that I take PI cases, I would have to settle them without filing a lawsuit. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, I'd have to refer the case out to a firm that could handle the cost of litigation. I wouldn't be able to.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 7:30 pm)

Once the insurance defense bar figures out that you can't file a lawsuit you are screwed. You better be in a very populated area.

I've read through this whole thread and, with all due respect, this is a disaster in the making.

I wouldn't want you handling my case the way you make life decisions.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 8:14 pm)

You must have skipped over this part, "I've given a lot of thought to this and I'm going to have to focus primarily on comp cases initially."

I guess you thought you were being insightful, but I've handled enough personal injury lawsuits to know that even simple cases can require substantial costs. Referring out a case rather than filing may be detrimental, but filing a lawsuit and then not being able to pay for the costs is even worse.

The plan would be to avoid taking any bodily injury claims that couldn't be settled before a lawsuit, maybe avoid taking any personal injury cases at all, until I'm getting enough of a return on the comp cases to provide a war chest for lawsuits.

Do you have any experience with workers' compensation cases? It won't surprise me if you say no.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 9:07 pm)

I have enough experience with worker's comp to know that you need substantial volume and support staff to make it work well.

I also know that if you are hell bent against filing suit in a PI case, your clients won't bet getting as much in settlements as other lawyers can get for them. You'll be playing a rearguard action. They deserve a lawyer who can play offense.

Have you worked in a firm? If so, what went wrong?

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 9:23 pm)

"Have you worked in a firm?"

You're obviously new here. There's a sub forum on this site that could benefit from your contributions. Here's a link: http://www.jdunderground.com/dome/thread.php?threadId=131568

Welcome aboard.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 9:36 pm)

If you are going to be snarky, try to be right. Nowhere in this thread is my question answered.

I'm assuming that you are completely green based on your statements, but it was an honest question.

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vohod (May 8, 2017 - 8:25 pm)

You aren't hiring him, the proletariat underclass of cretins is. I highly doubt any of us would "hire" any of the rest of us on JDU. He is a trial lawyer.

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superttthero (May 8, 2017 - 7:38 pm)

The one dude I know that succeeded without an office was the most unethical attorney that wasn't a boomer (I mean that he was my generation).

Everyone else I know under 40 that's started a successful solo practice had space, either rented an office, got a free room from a friend/family member in another office, shared work for space with a solo, or had a virtual office membership.

I'm sure that people have done it though, I just don't know any.

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guyingorillasuit (May 8, 2017 - 8:53 pm)

If you have a solid case which you think you can handle, but no money, don't refer it out. There are lots of "litigation loan" providers which charge higher interest rates than normal, but will front you the necessary money. Your local trial lawyer association will know these people.

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isthisit (May 8, 2017 - 10:00 pm)

I'd never hire a virtual lawyer to handle a personal matter for me nor would I hire one on behalf of my family's real estate interests or businesses.

With that said, you're going to do PI/WC so you might be able to get a couple suckers to sign on. But even the poor want to know where they can find their attorney when they're unresponsive or dragging their feet.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 10:09 pm)

They also want to believe that you are successful and know what you are doing. Image matters. Not having an office is going to scare all but the fools away.

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guyingorillasuit (May 8, 2017 - 10:12 pm)

I tend to agree with you, but office rents vary depending on where you are. My small office is $1,500 a month, in a class B building. If you want glass and steel, you're paying almost $100 a square foot around here. Just 20 miles away from me, a friend is leasing a office suite with 3 offices and a reception area for $800 a month - 20 to 25% of what it would cost here.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 10:33 pm)

Pretty sure you're talking over ruralattorney's head. From his comments, he genuinely sounds like a flyover land attorney who probably handles low end cases but can still manage to afford an office that's a renovated barn or something.

To guys like that the idea of a solo starting out renting office space from another attorney or a group of solos sharing the cost of a single office sounds outrageous, to say nothing of working without an office. Some people have a way of thinking that says if they can't do it, neither can anyone else, the worst sort of tunnel vision.

In the geographic area where I practice, with a high COL and wide range of clientele, I've seen solo attorneys make seemingly preposterous business models work, stuff a lot more off the wall than anything I'm proposing. Some didn't make it, others are getting by, a few seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. An aspiring solo can't allow the narrow minded and inexperienced to close off possibilities.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 10:44 pm)

Trickydick, if you want to keep shooting the messenger rather than the message keep at it.

And for the record, your assumptions about me couldn't be farther from the truth.

You keep dodging my question: What practice experience do you have?

I've got twenty years worth and am now General Counsel for a multi-state corporation. If you truly believe that you are a visionary and that I am a fool, then that says more about you than me. If you can't find work and are desperate, there are much better ways to establish a solo practice. This is especially true given your lack of capital.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 10:37 pm)

I don't think that you need anything fancy, but you need something.

Also, a client whose outcome is not favorable is going to look for excuses to blame you. If you can't even afford an office, "My lawyer is an incompetent hack" is going to be at the top of their list. Why make their bar complaint easy?

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 10:43 pm)

You sound like you have some experience being on the receiving end of state bar complaints.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 10:44 pm)

Not once, I am proud to say. But I did serve on the professional ethics committee.

What's sad is that I'm honestly trying to help you. Good lawyers can learn. Yet you seem determined to ignore any and all constructive criticisms.

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 10:50 pm)

I agree, it is sad that you honestly think you're trying to help me.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 10:53 pm)

So how much experience do you have?

EDIT: Nevermind. I found the answer. Less than three years.

This thread is a gem: http://www.jdunderground.com/lawpractice/thread.php?threadId=106823

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trickydick (May 8, 2017 - 11:12 pm)

You should really read the thread where I cautioned against becoming a bitter, resentful attorney with a chip on his shoulder. Others may disagree, but I say it's never too late.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 11:27 pm)

Allright, I've changed my mind. I encourage you to open up an office-less PI/comp firm with minimal capitol. Best of luck.

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disappearedattorney (May 9, 2017 - 6:59 am)

I've read through this whole thread, and I have to agree with ruralattorney here. There are so many things wrong with this plan, I don't even know where to begin. But to pick one thing that hasn't been mentioned elsewhere, it sounds like TD has a job now that allows him to save money that he's going to give up to do this. SMH.

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jeffm (May 8, 2017 - 10:48 pm)

I still think an office is a waste of money, but I understand the whole "image" thing. It's hard to resist, and I acknowledge there is some value to it. I just have my doubts whether it's really worth it. On the flip-side, my advice wasn't steadfast against office space; it was to say that if you can't afford it, don't be dumb enough to spend money on it. Work up an income stream; then, build the image.

I don't know how you can start up business taking on only comp cases. I'm sure someone's done it, but it seems like if you're broke, you'd be hungry enough to take what you can get.

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ruralattorney (May 8, 2017 - 10:50 pm)

If money is truly an issue, I think that shared office space is a happy medium.

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whiteguyinchina (May 9, 2017 - 5:08 am)

how dare you guys stomp on a dream. fly, little bird, fly! the sky is the limit.

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ruralattorney (May 9, 2017 - 8:02 am)

Here are some thoughts from other smart people:

"An office is a small investment in putting yourself in the middle of the business world, instead of 10 feet from your bedroom. You can’t afford an office? You’re a lawyer, negotiate something. Especially when you’re young, or building a new practice – do what you can to be around people – and real people, not the ones on your computer screen."
http://abovethelaw.com/2012/03/the-practice-the-great-stupid-office-debate/

I tend to agree. If you aren't creative and savvy enough to negotiate an office arrangement that you can afford, you just aren't ready to negotiate on behalf of others.

"Personally, I believe it’s possible, depending on the types of matters that you handle. If you have an appellate practice or do contract work for other lawyers, it is entirely feasible to practice law from a home office. The key is to have a practice that requires very little consumer client contact."
http://www.mycase.com/blog/2012/07/should-lawyers-practice-law-from-a-home-office/

I have known attorneys with these types of practices. The one thing they have in common is that they were not generating their own business. All of their business came to them from an affiliated firm.

Bottom line: While there may be genuine debate as to the overall question, the one thing that cannot be debated is that you will get less clients without an office. Successful lawyers play to win, not just to survive. Yes, you can make this work, but you will always be behind the curve because you tried to make it work. Build for your future now - in the best way possible.

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mrtor (May 9, 2017 - 10:04 am)

In sum: Undercapitalized, underexperienced, underequipped, and starting in practice areas that will take at least 1-2 years to generate any income. The cold, hard truth is that this is a pipe dream, not an actual plan with any hope of success.

If you ever want to get it off the ground, you need to continue learning, planning, and saving over the coming years. You may even want to look into transitioning to a small firm that will allow you to originate. If you have not experienced what it is like to have to drum up your own business, independent of your employer, I think it will be an eye opening experience.

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blakesq (May 9, 2017 - 3:53 pm)

I started my solo practice working out of the spare bedroom in my apartment, and I had a private mailbox as my "office address". I used the private mailboxes at the UPS store in my town. I did whatever I could to keep my overhead low. Once I was making enough money, then I rented office space from another lawyer. Now I have my own office, small, but it is all mine with a nice view of the green in our town.

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inho2solo (May 9, 2017 - 10:33 pm)

Understood, Mike, but starting off a solo patent practice after having been a partner in a successful firm is a bit different.

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caj111 (May 9, 2017 - 4:02 pm)

Let me add in my two cents here. I think whether a brick and mortar office is necessary when starting a practice really depends on the type of law you plan on doing. I once dealt with an attorney who did the closing on the sale of my home. I never met him in person, only dealt with him via phone and email and have no idea if he really had an office. But he handled my closing smoothly, correctly and for the right price. Real estate closings were the only thing he did (aside from working as an adjunct professor teaching real estate law at night), I think and his practice seemed to be the volume-based type. For other types of law, YMMV. If I was the plaintiff in a serious personal injury lawsuit, the image of a physical office would be more important to me.

I will say that you really should have a separate business address, i.e. UPS store, where there are people to sign for any deliveries that require a signature. Plus you don't want people randomly stopping by your home. It can and will happen. DO NOT use a P.O. box - besides the image issue, you can't receive FedEx or UPS there.

Also, a lot of people on this thread may have made comments that don't appeal to you, but if you started this thread expecting to hear what you wanted to hear, this isn't the place. I am in no way implying that you will fail with whatever you do, but a lot of people here have posted the cold, hard realities of solo practice which you can choose to keep in mind or ignore. Maybe your experience will be entirely different from others on here, it's possible, but don't ask for advice and then expect people to just say you have a rock solid plan for success.

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trickydick (May 9, 2017 - 10:10 pm)

This thread was narrowly tailored to address the issue of perspectives on running a solo firm without a dedicated office. It was never intended as a full exposition on my plan and it was certainly never intended to assert that my proposed plan was guaranteed to make me wealthy. I never even indicated whether or not I thought it would or wouldn't succeed because the truth is I'm not sure and am not confident in my plan. At this stage I'm considering the very real possibility of failure and being reminded of that possibility isn't so much an insightful revelation as it is an unnecessary aside. Whoever said my idea was guaranteed to succeed?

Nevertheless, as is typical of JDU, my idea became a Rorschach test for anyone interested enough to consider it. It really wasn't necessary to come in and advise me that my idea sucked and I had no idea what I was getting into when I hadn't suggested it was a rock solid idea that was going to make me rich. Where the confrontational tone came from I'm not sure. Also, there have been more than a few haphazard reactions made by posters based on a lot of assumptions.

Can a solo firm based solely on personal injury and workers' compensation cases prove viable? Of course it can. A lot of people have done it. Is it easy? No. They're among the toughest fields in which to survive as a fresh young solo. I know that. I never said otherwise. But as long as you have sufficient volume and a sufficiently low overhead, it can be made to work.

Can I achieve the necessary volume? I honestly don't know yet.

Can I keep my overhead low? Yes. Absolutely. In fact, the only substantial cost I won't pay for is an office. Other than the perception it will have on my clients, an office serves no purpose. With the exception of hearings and the (very) occasional deposition, an office is completely useless to me. All the work I need to do I can do out of my home.

Do I have the experience needed to manage my own cases? That's a moot point because I'm already managing my own cases. Although I work for a mill, no one held my hand when I learned this practice area. I was given assignments and I had to leaf through practice manuals and utilize online resources, even including this website. My clients and peers are free to make an opinion on my competence, but I've brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees on settlements over the last few years and, according to my bosses, have brought in more than many of the other associates. How much that is due to any skill on my part and how much due to the firm's reputation and resources is up for debate.

But the point is I'm handling cases with a lot of autonomy and dealing with a lot of responsibility but receiving only a small portion of the earnings. If I'm going to be straddled with the responsibility, then I at least want the benefit of the compensation as well.

But it's not mainly about the money. It's about the frustration of dealing with the disorganization and constant chaos endemic to this firm and so many mills like it. I'm fed up with it and I don't think firms have to be run like this. In college and law school, I was frequently surrounded by people who were cramming for tests and writing final papers at the last minute. I was the guy who had everything done ahead of time. When I studied for the bar exam, I ignored the Barbri lesson plans and did things my own way. The weekend before the exam everyone was panicked and doing last minute studying. I spent that weekend relaxing and binge watching movies and in fact didn't study again afterward. I took the exam with a confidence that not a single other test taker I met shared. And I passed the bar exam the first time with no problem. Maybe it is naïveté to think I can bring that same confident approach to running my own solo practice. But I refuse to believe that law firms have to be run the way I've seen most set up.

As for starting my own practice, I think that inevitably I'm going to give it a shot. I just feel an overwhelming yearning to try. But I haven't committed to any decisions. I'm going to look into potential client sources and consider what they have to offer. Once I'm confident that I can at least get clients, I'll look into it further.

But, yes, the single biggest issue that I am considering is how to survive the long drought between signing up the cases and the creation of a revenue stream when they start settling. This is the problem inherent in starting a law firm with cases taken on a contingency basis. The only way to make it work is to go into debt, save up enough cash to survive this period, or learn practice areas that include retainers and hourly billing. I haven't decided which path to go with.

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adamb (May 11, 2017 - 6:06 pm)

Don't listen to the naysayers. You sound similar to me - so I think you will be fine. You are well aware of the financial difficulties of solo practice, but if you can survive 18 months you'll he good (and tired too). But there are many benefits to being solo. Starting with a virtual office may be fine. Try to office share - many of these arrangements in NYC/LI - it is better for civil practice. Or start VO and then go to office share after a set time or set income amount.

If you plan things out and build a strong online presence, you should survive long enough to build a sustainable business model.

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inho2solo (May 9, 2017 - 10:37 pm)

Good luck.

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tttsolo (May 10, 2017 - 9:17 am)

i was once where you were-i am less concerned with the office space issue than where the clients are going to come from. yellow pages are dead. google ads are incredibly competitive and expensive. if you want any off board assistance email me at a my throw away-jdharm76@yahoo.com

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prodigy (May 10, 2017 - 9:59 pm)

Best of luck in whatever you decide to do. Regardless you are tricky and you are the boss.

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adamb (May 11, 2017 - 6:19 pm)

By the way, in addition to my few other comments here, remember this: the jdu boomers or old gen xers mostly told me that I was a green dipsh!t who would fail. So...

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trickydick (May 11, 2017 - 8:42 pm)

I do appreciate the observation, adamb. I recognize that guys like you and GIGS are the exceptions that prove the rule that going solo isn't easy and the guys who fail outnumber the ones who succeed.

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guyingorillasuit (May 11, 2017 - 6:42 pm)

Consider an SBA loan, tricky.

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trickydick (May 11, 2017 - 8:43 pm)

Loans of any kind are on the table along with many other options. I'm not married to anything yet except the focus on area of law.

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