Crossroads: Which Path Is Right For You? Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings – that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide. – Budda
WMU-Cooley Professor Gary Bauer, a recent ABA Solo and Small Firm Trainer award winner, teaches Estate Planning to third-year law students and a directed study class he created called Solo By Design. His blog, sololawyerbydesign.com, provides law students, recent solo practioners, and seasoned professionals who wish to go solo, with information and resources to be successful in the legal business. This blog post was first published on June 16, 2016.
I have been publishing this blog for over a year. I hope you have found it to be helpful. However, my ideas are my ideas. And, you need to develop a practice that is well suited to your circumstances. That means that you will need to do all the work necessary for your success and create a practice that builds upon your strengths and compensates for those aspects of your personality that are missing or weak. This will constantly challenge you and your ability to succeed in the business of law. There are a lot of “coaches” out there who will offer to help you. But there are many who really don’t know what they are talking about. Or they tell you that, if you do this or that, you will be successful.
What follows is a quote from a blog called the “Unwashed Advocate at unwashedadvocate.com.” In it, the author has a “List” intended to share ideas that the author feels someone in the practice of law needs to know. This list was first published after the author’s first year of practice. Copied below is one of the elements of that list that I wish to share with you. His entire list is really good too! But this bullet point explores the fact that no one, but you, can really determine the path you need to follow to be successful. It is also the reason I tell my students to go into the field and interview attorneys in their geographic area who are the same gender and the same ethnic background as themselves. Interview practicing lawyers with over 10 years of experience and attorneys with less than three years of experience. Do this to better understand the good, the bad and the ugly of going solo before dipping your feet into those murky waters. The greater number you interview, the better prepared you will be to handle the stress and realities of solo practice. He says:
You’re just as smart as self-titled gurus, business practice experts, SEO gurus, solo practice experts, and law office startup coaches, unless you hire them. I promise you, you are just as smart as any of these people. Like them, you can Google business information and read about the ins and outs of starting your practice, building a business model, and attracting clients. The only way you are below them in expertise and intellect is if you hire them. Secondary note: if they have been licensed to practice law for less than 5 years, they have no business giving advice. They know precisely squat. Secondary secondary note: if they’ve never established their own long-term successful practice, they don’t know anything more than you. Wake up. Spot these charlatans early and often.
Finding your way is not an easy task and it takes work. But, if you are willing to do the hard work, the payoff is great. The results will be worth the effort you put into it.