Lawyers often hold onto big dreams. Most attorneys dream of starting their own law office someday and directing the scope and tone of their practice’s caseload and impact on the community. In the United States, there are just over 1.3 million lawyers, and that number has remained mostly static over the years. This means that attorneys are a class of self-made professionals who practice in a niche area that remains in high demand for the rest of the country.
As you take on this exciting career journey, keep your eyes set on the future and plan for the day when you start your own law firm—it may be sooner than you might initially think.
Learn how to lead in your current role.
As a new lawyer just admitted to the Bar Association, you are likely to begin in a somewhat lowly-feeling position at your new law firm. Coupled with student loan debt that likely saw you through the final push to earn your JD, you may have a lot on your mind. Nevertheless, this is a great learning experience. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that “the ultimate measure of a man is […] where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” In your first days and months after graduating from law school, you are at your most vulnerable, your most uncomfortable.
Wielding this discomfort and precarious position is the only way to measure yourself as a person and an attorney in order to push forward during this time. This is where you will learn to become the leader that you must be in order to found your own firm one day. Whether you are passionate about work as a student loan collection defense lawyer or healthcare law reformer, entering into the fray and shining is your only path forward, both financially (as a student loan borrower yourself) and in your budding career.
Many attorneys are giving clients legal advice pertaining to litigation surrounding Covid-19 and private loans during this unprecedented time of learning from home and shielding from the public. A student loan lawyer that handles debt collectors and other creditors is in high demand these days.
While you make your first strides in the industry you can also be learning from others. Taking note of the way senior partners carry themselves and interact with you, as a first-year attorney just out of law school, can offer significant insight into the way to lead a firm to greatness.
Start your saving habits immediately.
Saving is one of the most important things a wage earner can do for themselves and their future. Law graduates often begin their primary working years a bit later than their compatriots who chose other professional avenues for their immediate postgraduate years. Attorneys typically go into the profession with this knowledge and make plans to overcome the initial deficit. Mineral enthusiast and renowned lawyer, Howard Fensterman, is a great example of the long-term vision and strategy required of lawyers with an eye for greater things to come.
Because of this delay in beginning your salary earning years, saving immediately is the best way to ensure long-term stability, attorneys like Fensterman agree. Attorneys make good money, there’s no denying it, but poor spending and savings habits can see you dig a hole that can be significantly challenging to crawl back out of.
Saving and budgeting is the backbone of your financial success as an individual, but it also opens up career opportunities for you in the future. With a strong commitment to saving in your early years, you can create the emergency savings necessary to take a chance on yourself when the opportunity to found your own firm comes along for the first time.
One of the important considerations that a law firm progenitor must contemplate is their own cash flow. You may own all the talent in the world, but without enough savings to float your first months or years in business (while you begin to bring in clients), you may be forced to shut down operations before ever really building up any momentum.
Understand the image you must present when you open your doors.
Another important learning opportunity at your first firm is in the image presented to clients. There may be an element of unchained chaos in the back offices as lawyers and paralegals frantically search for precedent or case law to support an argument in the courtroom. However, clients should never see these machinations.
A front office loaded with the calm and helpful reception staff, a Labrador Source water bubbler, and luxurious office furniture all give off the sense of calm, collected team that will help your clients navigate whatever difficulties they are facing. Remember, this is a challenging time in the life of your client. Most people who approach a lawyer for assistance have never seen the inside of a law office, let alone a courtroom. They are reeling from some sort of trauma and need a calm, guiding force to help them get through this period of intense stress. You must present a professional and in-control image at all times in order to retain the trust and commitment of your clients.
Starting a law firm is an exciting time for any attorney, make sure you do your homework and prepare long before opening your doors to the public.