The First Client

When we decided to open a law firm, there were a lot of preliminary questions. Are we really cut out for this? How do we purchase malpractice insurance? How much money should we spend? But one of the biggest questions for us, and every newly minted solo lawyer, is whether clients will actually call.

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For a while, the only source of income we had was contract work from other attorneys, and court appointments. The contract work is great because it pays well and we get to see types of cases we normally wouldn’t see. I also enjoy the court appointment work quite a bit, even though it doesn’t pay well.

But neither of those things is really the same as getting our own clients. So when the phone rang for the first time and we signed our first client, I pretty much had this exact reaction. I was tripping over myself to get our intake sheet filled out and an initial meeting set up.

Some of you are fondly remembering the first client who ever called you. Others are wondering how we finally got a direct solicitation. The answer should come as no surprise: a personal referral. Chalk this up to further anecdotal evidence that personal referrals work. And I doubt the logo on my card even mattered to them.

Do you remember your first client? Tell us about it in the comments.

  • http://www.ColoradoElderLaw.com Marco Chayet

    Remember my first client so well when I decided to open my own firm February 14,2002. 30 years old, A few years out of law school. Referral from a friend, $5,000 retainer (felt like $500,000 at the time). 10 years later and we are THE boutique elder law firm in Colorado. Dream came true with hard work and the stars aligning!

  • Corinna

    I am one month into my new practice, and while I have a lot of movement in a positive direction, I haven’t quite secured that first paying client; how long did it take you guys?

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/joshcamson/ Josh Camson

      Congrats on your new career Corinna. It took us about three months before the directly solicited client I discuss in the post. But prior to that we got enough work through court appointments and contract work to keep the lights on.

      • Corinna

        Well, I’m happy to check back in and report that I landed my first paying client today! I launched my practice on June 1, so it has been 6 weeks to the day. Granted, the client is a family friend, but it definitely feels great to be sending out my first invoice. Lucky Friday the 13th!

  • http://utahcrimlaw.blogspot.com Joshua Baron

    Congratulations, Josh. I’m sure it will keep picking up from here.

    My first couple of clients were pretty crazy. One made me meet him on a street corner to make a payment in cash. I made my partner come with me in case he decided to kill me. I am no longer desperate enough to meet my clients for payment.

    Keep it up.

  • http://blog.simplejustice.us shg

    Do right by your first and he’ll bring you your second, and tenth. and maybe even your hundredth.

    Congratulations, Josh.

  • Court Koehler

    I was asleep when my first client called. (It was 4:30 in the afternoon – but that’s what happens when you’re bored and have no work). I have the recording of the call, and I sounded ridiculous – I honestly can’t believe she hired me, but she did.

  • Andiswa Tube

    I’m a South African Attorney planing to go solo in September, finding that first paying client is also my greatest fear.