Completing law school is undoubtedly a significant achievement, but it is not the finish line. The next step is to decide where you are going to get your law degree. For many, this means making the choice to go solo as there are many benefits to running your own practice.
Benefits of Being a Solo Lawyer
Flexibility is one of the biggest benefits of running your own solo practice. You decide what needs to be done and when. If you have family to support or other ongoing projects, setting your own terms for your law practice can be a huge advantage over working for someone else. If flexibility is important to you, then going the solo route is definitely something to consider.
It goes without saying that the cost of your operations will be much lower as a solo lawyer than it will be in a larger law firm. Larger law firms have to consider larger staff and, therefore, larger expenses. Independent practitioners need less real estate (if any), less equipment, and in some cases may not need additional staff at all. Many independent practitioners rely on legal software such as CRM and client onboarding software to help them automate day-to-day tasks that they would otherwise need extra hands to do.
One of the main reasons many clients prefer to work with solos is that they enjoy working with the same lawyer who conducted their initial consultation. Large law firms may have multiple attorneys appointed to a case. This can be confusing and even overwhelming for clients with more sensitive cases who are forced to repeat the same potentially triggering information to different people. With a solo attorney, clients get a one-on-one experience without being scattered in multiple directions. More importantly, independent attorneys often offer more attractive rates, which is often one of the main concerns for those seeking legal representation.
Things to Consider When Choosing Which Practice Area to Focus On
Although the main attraction of becoming a solo lawyer is to run things your Thus, you also have a lot of responsibilities on your shoulders, which is important to keep in mind when choosing your legal niche.
When deciding which area of practice to choose, keep the following considerations in mind.
What is important to you and what would motivate you to come to the office every day and zealously represent your clients? Do you think you could see yourself portraying a potentially guilty offender? Are you willing to work under extreme pressure and are you able to handle the harsh realities that can accompany certain cases such as those in family law? Maybe you live for the negotiations that come with bodily harm and want to fight for injured victims to get their lives back on track. In short, before choosing an area of practice based solely on money, ask yourself if it is something that would correspond to what is most important to you.
Take a look at what is happening in the geographic or metropolitan area where you plan to start your business. Are there already established solo practices there? What areas do they practice in and do you have a chance against them competitively? Ask yourself if there is an opportunity for a different niche in your area that might make sense. Do you live in an area with a high rate of poverty? Criminal law could potentially bring in a lot of clients. Perhaps there is a high rate of immigration which could be conducive to opening an immigration law firm. The type of area and the demographics of your area should come into play in order to make the most strategic decision.
What is happening in the world around you right now? Is a certain area of practice more promising than others? Are there new emerging niches in the law that may see higher demand in the near future? For example, cannabis law and liability versus technology have seen rampant growth across the country. Be sure to consider the political, social, and technological climate when making a decision.
Then there is the question of where you are in your life. Does your personal life give you the bandwidth to get your business off the ground? Do you have a dependent family? Are you able to financially support a business in its infancy? As they say, “read the part” and decide what type of practice area would work best for your situation.
5 areas of best practice to consider
Bankruptcy law is a great choice for independent attorneys, as people going through exceptionally stressful financial times are generally looking for a more personalized experience. An independent attorney is there to hold his hand throughout the process from start to finish with an empathetic approach to providing legal services. Don’t get me wrong, bankruptcy law requires a love of numbers, so if you’re not a fan of math, you’ll probably want to consider a different area of practice.
Just like people going through financial hardship, people going through the emotional turmoil of divorce also want a more empathetic client experience that a solo attorney can so expertly deliver. Although family law comes with heightened emotions and a significant amount of tension, it can also be extremely rewarding to know that you have made a difference in the lives of your clients.
Not to mention from a business perspective, the current divorce rate is over 40%. In other words, out of six people who marry, almost half of them divorce. Although rates have come down over the past few decades, it’s safe to say that you’ll have a wide range of customers to market to.
According to the latest legal industry statistics, in 2022 there were over 200,000 estate planning attorneys in the United States alone. If you plan to open your practice in an affluent area full of large residences and expensive cars, opening an estate planning practice can be very lucrative. Independent practitioners looking to get into estate planning will not only find success in high-end areas, but also in counties with older demographics. These areas are teeming with residents nearing retirement who are keen to protect and prepare their assets.
The US Department of Justice reports that there are approximately 400,000 personal injury cases settled out of court each year. Although the most common type of injury occurs on the road, you will also find many workplace injuries, slips and falls, and rarer injuries. People who have suffered financial and emotional loss as a result of their injury are looking for someone to prove their case and seek compensation.
Personal injury cases require a significant amount of back and forth between insurance companies with no shortage of documentation. Financial risk is also a factor in that you may not gain anything if you do not win your client’s case. Conversely, there is the promise of insanely high settlements which could mean a big payday. The question is, how risk averse are you?
Navigating the complex world of immigration law is not easy for someone who may not even speak English. As such, an immigration attorney is there to advise clients on the laws and help them through the process to be able to live and work in the United States. Clients can range from US citizens seeking to bring their foreign spouse to the country to more sensitive cases in which immigrants are potentially separated from their families.
If you speak a language other than English, this can be particularly attractive in your marketing strategy. Many foreign clients want to work with someone who speaks their native language, so you’ll be even more successful if you can offer that personal touch of their native language that all other immigration lawyers can’t.
Take up the challenge with the right legal tools
Whatever area of practice you choose, you must always accept that you are a business person and not just a lawyer. You will need to generate customers, do the administrative work like sending invoices, assembling documents and onboarding customers. And while you choose your own hours and keep your income, ultimately all facets of your business are up to you.
Since this can be a daunting task for lawyers fresh out of law school who don’t necessarily know how to run a business, it’s important that you have all the right tools in your arsenal, particularly since there is only one of you.
For this reason, the most successful independent attorneys know the importance of turning to legal technology to give their legal clients a large firm feel with an individual touch. Using end-to-end software is the most efficient way to put the administrative side of your law firm on autopilot, so you can focus on what you do best, that’s that is, to help people better understand the law.
The right legal technology can capture your clients’ information for you and automatically populate it into your marketing emails, important documents, and invoices, reducing the time wasted in the day-to-day tasks of running a law firm. Even better, it tracks every step of the customer journey, keeping you on track with what needs to happen next.