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Working as a solo practitioner has both pros and cons, just like any other attorney. Some of the pros include complete freedom over what cases they work on and making their own destiny. Some of the cons include a lower average salary compared to private practice attorneys and less support staff to help you in than you would have in private practice.
Solo practitioners enjoy various benefits that larger firm practitioners may lack, such as complete freedom over the cases they choose and the nature of their practice. That being said, there are some downsides to becoming a solo practitioner, including reduced staffing and a lower average salary as compared to larger firm practitioners. All in all, you should weigh your options and consider becoming a solo practitioner if it is the right fit for you.
1. Why did you decide to become a solo practitioner?
I see an attorney as a job in itself and a walking job opportunity. I see myself as competent, knowledgeable, and able to perform. I enjoy responding to the legal needs of others and being compensated for it. This pleasure can be obtained through furthering the goals of a corporation, serving Judges as a judicial law clerk, or for one's contributions to a firm. I found it, as a sole practitioner.
2. What is the best part of being a solo practitioner?
Flexibility in scheduling was the primary benefit of being a sole practitioner. Now, it is just my job. For example, I would take my son to school for seven thirty am and then go to the office. I could work through lunch and leave the office to pick him up from school at four o'clock. At four o'clock, I could go to the post office, deliver documents, return to the office, or work from home, for the remaining part of the day and night. Although, I could do that, many times I did not. His school had fantastic after school care. Working late hours is especially so where the legal demands are great and the motivation is strong.
3. What is the worst part of being a solo practitioner?
Income, however, depends upon the client's ability to pay fees. The attorney's focus is not only on the practice of law, but on overhead, employees, and administrative matters. The breadth of your practice is limited by your personal resources. As a sole practitioner, the hours are long. In the military, a soldier learns a great deal can be accomplished in a twenty-four hour day. As a sole practitioner, one learns there are only twenty-four hours in a day.
4. What advice would you give to others looking to become a solo practitioner?
I would advise any lawyer considering a sole practice, to be realistic and not idealistic. Before going into a sole practice, get solid work histories working with others in the legal profession. This is because going into a sole practice has connotations concerning the lawyer's ability to work with others or for others, which are not necessarily correct. Yet, these underlying assumptions and conclusions are routinely made by prospective employers. It is more difficult in obtaining employment after demonstrating the ability to practice law, independently. It is similar to being type casted in the acting arena. Obtaining a work history, before and/or during ones sole practice, if possible, will keep employment opportunities open in the private and public sector, in the event you desire to change your career path.
5. What is a typical day like for you as a solo practitioner?
A typical work day is allocating time for substantive work on cases, meeting with clients, responding and making phone calls to clients, attorneys, investigators, witnesses, judges, agencies, and companies. Substantive work on cases includes attending or preparing for conferences, hearings, and trials, writing briefs, drafting motions and petitions.