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William D. Cope, Solo Practitioner (Attorney)

( 4 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
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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 was a former partner at 2 law firms and learned a lot through those jobs. I then decided but I wanted more freedom to practice types of law that I enjoy and more freedom with my calendar.

2. What is the best part of being a solo practitioner?

Not having to answer to anyone else being able to take the types of cases that I like without worrying about hourly billable limits or other partnership matters.

3. What is the worst part of being a solo practitioner?

Having basically to do everything by myself, i.e. practicing law along with managing the firm and conducting administrative tasks, money concerns during slow times and not having partners or other attorneys to brainstorm with during complicated cases. Working with firms in the past I was sometimes able to hand complicated research matters to other partners or associates when I was too busy. Other benefits were that I was able to seek the aid of other partners in areas of law that I was unfamiliar with and it was also just nice sometimes to have the support of my partners. But I found that having the freedom that comes with having your own firm, at least for me, trumps the benefits that come from being in a larger firm.

4. What is a typical day like for you as a solo practitioner?

Make sure you have a solid referral base or reoccurring clients. Otherwise, find a way to effectively and economically advertise. Also, find a good, trustworthy and very confident paralegal to help you.

5. What advice would you give to others looking to become a solo practitioner?

I generally start the day by checking phone messages and returning calls and then checking emails and returning them if necessary. If I have a brief due I generally turn off the phones and work on that after the calls and emails. I spend some of the day consulting with my paralegal. I also typically have a new client or 2 and my consultations usually take about an hour depending on how complex the case is.

6. Is there anything else that is important to know about you and your practice, or that you would like to add?

I practice mainly bankruptcy law, all areas, negotiations for clients, some personal injury and civil litigation. I've been practicing in the bankruptcy area of law for a long time and take pride in helping and obtaining good results for my clients. My paralegal is top-notch, very professional, as is expressed by most of my clients at the conclusions of their cases, and a great help to me and my practice.

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