Yet again, too much time has passed since my last post. My current position, of which I’m trying to escape, has only become that much more of a motivating factor for this change I so desperately need and want. Time has been a huge factor. Many nights have been worked late, hour commute, dinner, kids, and here I am struggling to keep my eyes open so I can set out to do what I said I would and blog. C’est la vie I suppose.
Mapping it out. What do I mean? I guess I just mean making a rough outline of steps. As lawyers it seems like outlines and lists are really what we survive off of. My survival guide of sorts is “How to Start & Build a Law Practice” by Jay G. Foonberg. I’m embarrassed to admit that I only have the 3rd edition of this book. Quite frankly, I was broke in 2008 when I bought it. After passing the bar and having no job other than part-time work at the grocery store, it was all I could afford. So, my version is from 1991. I know! I was only in about 4th grade at the time. I knew I wanted to be an attorney then…but I digress. The more recent version- the 5th edition- is still quite old in technological advancement years, considering we get a new I-phone or fancy gadget thrown at us each year. Instead the 5th edition of this book is from back in 2004. A lot of advancements have for sure come about since 2004.
Needless to say, this is by no means gospel. Well, maybe that is not a fair conclusion. There are MANY things that have made law practice easier since 1991, and 2004 for that matter. So, I read Foonberg’s book knowing that many of the general principles still prevail, but I recognize that I may learn more about virtual offices, virtual receptionists, new case management systems, computing, gadgets, lawyer apps, and so on, from blogs and youtube tutorials. And I’m not alone in this understanding. Carolyn Elefant, who is a solo start-up giant in her own right, wrote about this very thing at the end of 2013 here. I absolutely loved what she had to say about Foonberg’s book:
“[l]ooking back, it was Foonberg who first articulated in the 1970s the sense of autonomy and possibility that hanging a shingle could confer on lawyers. Taking the time to speak those words out loud and commit them to print — that was the innovation.”
I think there is no paragraph in this book that epitomizes the sense of autonomy and possibility than right in the very beginning. In Part I, entitled “Getting Started” he lays it all out on the table for you. No holding back. And for that I cannot help but appreciate his innovation that much more. This is where it is at folks:
“Risks of Failure– Nothing in life is guaranteed except death, and some religions claim they can guarantee against even death. There is a substantial risk of failure in opening up your own law practice. There is also risk if you accept a job with a law firm. Law firms merge, are absorbed, and go out of business. Megafirms open and close branches, leaving lawyers unemployed. There is also an element of luck involved. This is no more or less true with a law practice than with any other activity. Marriages fail, children and parents divide, even the Penn Central went bankrupt. I would not be candid if I didn’t make clear the possibility of failure. Should You Start Your Own Practice? Are the risks justified by the rewards? In my opinion, YES.”
There is certainly risk involved in this, but you cannot have possibility without them. And really, there is risk staying in my current position too. That is much more personal and I care not to go down that path, as I have had a paycheck and a sense of security for which I cannot ignore and be ungrateful for. So, I will just state it is time to move on. It is time to take new risks, spread my own wings. I have kids so I am certainly in no position to jump without a parachute, but the parachute of a year’s worth of salary that Mr. Foonberg suggests in the 1991 edition is certainly NOT available on this aircraft. Nor will it be at the end of this planning year even. I will just have to look to other safety devices. Hey, I did just get a coupon in the mail to sell my plasma. 😉 So, I have that going for me.