The current legal economy has led a fair number of recent graduates to go solo as an option of last resort. At the same time, firms looking to downsize and other factors have also led to experienced attorneys hanging their own shingle.
If you find yourself moving from a firm environment to a one-room office, remember to trust your instincts and ask for help when you need it.
Your instincts have been honed by experience
I recently transitioned into my running my own firm and spent the first couple of days over-analyzing even the smallest of decisions. Notably, I was handling the exact same types of cases I handled for my former employer. The only thing that had changed was that I was covered by own malpractice insurance, not somebody else’s.
My brain seemed to be ignoring the fact that I handled a full caseload at my old job and I was generally responsible for running my cases from beginning to end. If a better preparatory experience exists, I’m not sure what it is.
Thankfully, after a day or two of running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, I took a deep breath and plowed ahead. I didn’t move ahead haphazardly, I just relied on my experience and proceeded the same way I was trained.
Never hesitate to ask for advice in unknown situations
This is not contradictory to trusting your gut, it’s complimentary. If you were successful in your previous work, you have a good knowledge base for handling similar cases. If, however, you find yourself in uncharted territory, there is nothing wrong with asking for advice. If your gut has no opinion, or you feel you are in over your head—it’s time to reach out for some assistance.
Running your own firm and making decisions is empowering and builds confidence. It can also lead to a false sense of security and overconfidence–which can lead to disaster.
The most successful solo attorneys I know do not live in isolation, they share offices with other highly competent solos and constantly bounce ideas off each other. Trust your gut, but never be afraid to reach out for advice when necessary.
Read the next post in this series: "Suddenly Solo? Make Time for Marketing."