Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not just idly pondering...

No siree bob.  What I'm about to say is 100% serious.  I am genuinely certain that I am going to do this.

I. Am. Starting. A. Law. Firm.

That's right.  In a few months, I will be the owner, managing partner, and sole proprietor of the Law Office of Bridgete A. McAuley.  I will be taking on my own clients, setting my own fees, balancing my own caseload, and, within reason, deciding how I want to spend the hours of my day.

I've wanted to start a law firm since...I don't even know when, sometime during law school.  I'd intended to work for a while, get some experience, and then go into it, but, well, things change.  The economy is improving, but not fast enough, and because hiring a new associate is approximately a 3-year investment for a firm (more than 3 years if the firm is fairly small), most law firms aren't quite ready to start hiring just because the economy is finally just barely starting to pick up.  Also, I realized that although it's a bit scary to do it now, it might actually be scarier to do it when I've worked for 5 years and have built myself to a decent salary in someone else's firm that I would then have to abandon in order to do this.  At least now I'm used to just getting by from month to month, so I can live with that for a while longer while I grow the firm.

As for being inexperienced, well, I've looked at several books and other resources and have discovered that it's really not as much of a problem as I thought.  In terms of getting clients, I just have to exude confidence to my clients and they'll trust me.  After all, I'm the one with the license to practice  law, and I have it after 3 years of work in law school.  That's why they're coming to me for help.  Inexperienced or not, I still know more than they do.  As for doing the work, well, I'll draw on what experience I do have, and I can ask for help from other lawyers when I get stuck.  Solo practitioners ask fellow lawyers for help and advice all the time.  You're not really in direct competition with each other -- in fact, small firms and solo practitioners are really good for the legal profession -- so other lawyers are ready and willing to offer help to someone going out on their own.  And actually, on the subject of not being in direct competition with other firms, often these firms will even more directly help a small firm or solo practitioner by sending them clients or giving them some contract work (document review or discovery requests or something else they might be drowning in).

There's a lot more I could say to really hit it home that I am dead serious about this -- like where I'll get my start-up capital, how I plan to find clients, etc., but really this post is just to tell you all that I'm doing this.  Naturally, if you know anyone who needs legal help (in Mass, of course), once I open my doors, send them my way!  Oh, I plan to do general litigation for the most part.  I was going to specialize more within litigation, but I've been looking at what various small litigation firms in the Boston area do and they seem to just put it out there that they're a litigation firm and then do a variety of work within litigation.  The solo practitioners seem to do this the most, they probably all start with an idea like mine... "I just want to litigate!" and then let the specialization happen naturally.  I do have access to a huge client base with my connections to the local Brazilian community so I'll probably end up doing quite a bit of immigration work.  Marcelo is going to get himself certified as a Portuguese translator to help with that.  I'm sure I'll also do some tax work, because I know enough about it, but I'd like to try to mostly focus that on tax litigation (there's not a lot of opportunity for litigation in tax work, but there is some).  As for the rest, I'll just see what comes through my door and go from there.  So, there you go!