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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 decided to go solo because I enjoy the broad practice of taxation law and the number of firms with which I worked wanted to "pigeon hole" me.
2. What is the best part of being a solo practitioner?
The best part of being a solo is that I control my docket.
3. What is the worst part of being a solo practitioner?
The worst part is that my clients' needs control me. Other than in connection with recertification/continuing education, my wife and I have not taken a real vacation in years. Although I have been solo since 1992, I have not developed "calluses".
4. What advice would you give to others looking to become a solo practitioner?
My opening advice to attorneys who would seek to be solos is to have some kind of a client base, join a couple of referral services and develop a website.
5. What is a typical day like for you as a solo practitioner?
As a solo, a typical day is up early, spend 15 minutes on the treadmill and ten more with the dumbbells, go to the office and review faxes, telephone messages and emails, return telephone calls promptly (very important) and settle in with the schedule I made for myself the previous day. These are always interrupted by telephone calls and it is very important to take them. Likewise, to periodically check emails and return them. I offer a half hour free consultation which makes potential clients (including the more sophisticated business clients) feel comfortable. My schedule includes meeting with tax agency representatives on the various cases for which I am representing clients and doing research which is an essential part of my practice.
6. Is there anything else that is important to know about you and your practice, or that you would like to add?
I would add a quote/paraphrase from Alice in Wonderland: "You are old father William, the young man said and yet you continue to chew on bones. Do you think at your age it is right? In my youth, the old man said, I took to the law and argued each case with my wife. The strength that has given my jaws has lasted the rest of my life!"Perhaps that's why she has stuck with me.
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