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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?
After taking a number of years to be home with my children I wanted to re-start my career but not in a full-time position. I quickly realized that there were few, much less part-time, positions available. Initially I hadn't intended to open my own firm but after doing some contract work I realized that it could be a viable business model. Since I work mainly from home my overhead is low.
2. What is the best part of being a solo practitioner?
The best part about being a solo practitioner is that I can set my own schedule and work load. Now that I have a fairly established client base I can choose projects that interest me most and that fit into my family schedule.
3. What is the worst part of being a solo practitioner?
The worst part about being a solo practitioner is that you are your own marketing and sales manager, accountant, and IT person.
4. What advice would you give to others looking to become a solo practitioner?
The advice I would give to others who are looking to become a solo practitioner is to have a solid business and marketing plan with measureable goals tied to timelines. In addition, be aware of the competencies you have, be prepared to learn new skills, or be willing to spend the money to outsource tasks.
5. What is a typical day like for you as a solo practitioner?
My typical day includes being up well before my family to get at least an hour's worth of work in before they wake. I take time out to get my kids breakfast and lunches ready and take them to school. My formal work day is 8:30-3. Sometimes these hours include travel to or from clients offices and networking meetings. If I have additional work I sometimes fit some in once I pick up my kids from school or after they go to bed.
6. Is there anything else that is important to know about you and your practice, or that you would like to add?
Organization and record keeping is very important for a business owner and especially so in the area of legal practice. I am very conscientious about record keeping and learned early on to keep a daily written log of work performed. I include in this log a start and end time for each task, task description, and client name.
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