The greatest fear of any small law firm or solo practitioner is that they will not be able to make enough money to maintain their business and keep their doors open. Being the small firm in an ocean full of bigger firms means that you are fighting for every client and therefore every dollar that passes through your doors. But when it comes down to it, really, these factors are not the most crucial to whether or not a small firm or solo practice will or will not survive. As I reflect back on the past seven years of running my own practice, I would say that some of our success has come from several key components:
When I decided to hang my own shingle, I spent a health period of time investigating certain areas, population numbers, population growth and demographics after considering my selected practice areas. I ended up selecting my office location due to it being between Raleigh and Durham but more importantly it was close to the Research Triangle Park (RTP). I strongly believe that you don’t have to work in a bustling metropolis in order to be successful; however, knowing your geographic market can certainly help. Additionally, when selecting your office location or practice location, consider where potential networking opportunities may exist. You should position yourself to be able to meet new people and create business contacts daily.
After you have hung your shingle, you should consider working and networking are a minimum of 60 hours a week. How you divide those 60 hours a week should depend on how much work you have and how many networking opportunities you have.
The bare minimum of 40 hours a week just won’t cut it, in my opinion. Regardless, be willing to put in the time and extra effort.
~Jared Pierce, Wallace Pierce Law
You must be committed to making your practice successful no matter the odds, the challenges or the sacrifices. This can’t be a backup option or a way to pass time until something better comes along. This is your first choice and commitment.
Your personality does matters! By this, I mean that you have to be able to connect with people, sell yourself and build relationships. Basically, if your personality sends people running and you can’t seem to hold down even the most basic personal relationships, you are going to have a hard time making business relationships work.
So that’s it! You’ll notice that not one of these steps mentions anything about money or signing clients. Those will come with the territory if you can honestly check off these items. At the end of the day, you can’t live in paralysis, always fretting over bigger firms, more well-known lawyers, or cash flow. Focus on what you can do, lose the fear and you will succeed where many other lawyers have failed before you.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h