December 20, 2011 Practice Points

Making Your Firm Small, but Mighty

By Virginia Sierra

No one said it would be easy opening your own firm, but accomplishing the goal of hanging your own shingle may just be worth the hardship. To make your firm thrive you need to build relationships. Use your law school classmates for referrals. Then build a rapport with your clients and other lawyers. Network. Use your local bar association and the American Bar Association resources to meet other lawyers who can feed you cases (and, of course, you in turn will do the same). In your day-to-day practice, meet as many lawyers as you can and involve yourself in as many cases as you can. Ultimately, once you have built a strong rapport with your clients and other attorneys in your area, the goal is to have an equal balance of referrals from both.

Now that you are drawing cases in, the leg work begins. You are the master of your domain, and clients appreciate that it is you and you alone handling their matter. They do not have to contact a whole team of people for an answer. They can go directly to their source—you. You are also not conflicted in cases as you are in a large firm environment because they may have represented the other side at some point. You set your own hours, and, while they may be longer hours, they are yours to set. You write your own briefs; in a small firm, there are no associates to write them for you. It takes more time, but you also have more control. You invest the time needed to win your case. As a solo practitioner, you are less likely to delegate the work. You sift through the boxes of documents, you answer the questions, and you do the leg work. Do not be discouraged—your personal investment in these cases will not only pay off in the knowledge you gain from doing the research and the respect you earn from your clients, but also in the personal victory and pride you experience when you return a successful verdict. You are small, but you are mighty.

Read more about the successes of solo practitioners.

Virginia Sierra is with Cohen, Kennedy, Dowd & Quigley in Phoenix, Arizona.

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