Benefits of solo law practice

Whether you are newly qualified or you have done your time in the corporate world, the decision to go solo is not an easy one. The number one trait you should have is “drive”. Drive will guide you through all your doubts, decisions and ultimate success because without drive you have no goal.

Set your goal

Examine the reason you want a solo practice as opposed to being part of an established law firm. The reasons are varied and very much individual, but the general reason is “to be my own boss”. This is good and well, but having to make all the decisions yourself is hard work and very scary. Being part of a larger firm takes that worry away, however, the reward of making your own decisions is immeasurable. Do not be put off thinking that you “might” make poor decisions – there is a 100% guarantee that you will make a poor decision at one stage or the other. If you do, don’t beat yourself up about it, but use it as a learning experience for the next decision you have to make. Now that you are sure you want to go solo, you have to decide on your field of specialization.

All things to all people?

Only big corporates have the luxury of having entire departments that specialize, but as a solo law practitioner, you have to decide on just one or two fields to focus on. What do you LIKE doing? Which cases get you out of bed in the morning? What are you particularly good at? Look back on the subjects you got high marks in at university, or the cases you successfully represented – this will give you a good indication for your niche practice. However, if you have a wide range of interest, then location might be the deciding factor. If you intend setting your practice up on the fringes of a city, investigate the gap in the market for that location. Do people have to travel into the city to engage a lawyer for mortgages or divorces? Do you want to serve poorer communities in criminal cases? Decide on your forte because it is after all the reason you are going solo – being able to choose what you want to do.

You are your own brand

One of the most difficult concepts for a lawyer, is that of “branding”. All companies have their own trusted brand – retail, fast food, transport – and these companies have people behind that brand. But a lawyer is his own brand – you ARE the brand. A brand is built up through two things: Reputation and Trust. Just as a fast food chain instantly loses market share through a badly served meal or poor quality product, so you will gain or lose clients through your reputation as a professional service provider because people will base their decision on trust.

Being responsible for yourself by making your own decisions and plotting out your own future, is a strong aphrodisiac. It will not be easy and you will fail at some things, but once you have your goal set on a solo practice, you are one step closer to standing out in the crowd.