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Solo by Choice: Being the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be

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Showing why starting a law firm may help you become the lawyer you always wanted to be, with 16 inspiring examples.

Showing why starting a law firm may help you become the lawyer you always wanted to be, with 16 inspiring examples.

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  • 1. "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams . Live the life you imagined.” --Henry David Thoreau
  • 2. Lawyers have dreams. You had them once too.
  • 3. Perhaps you dreamed of serving clients in this tradition.
  • 4. Or arguing cases before a jury
  • 5. Or making precedent
  • 6. Instead, you're burnt out
  • 7. or bored
  • 8. or maybe unemployed.
  • 9. Well, now you have a choice. A path not taken that can lead to…
  • 10. Opportunities beyond your wildest imagination
  • 11. Career satisfaction
  • 12. work life balance
  • 13. … and the freedom to become the lawyer you always wanted to be
  • 14. Just like these lawyers...
  • 15. David J. Abeshouse Law Office of David J. Abeshouse; Uniondale Long Island, New York http://www.BizLawNY.com
    • Jurisdiction & Admission Date: New York, 1983; EDNY and SDNY Federal Courts, 1983; Second Circuit Court of Appeals, 1984; United States Supreme Court, 2004. 
    • Practice Focus Area: Business-to-business dispute resolution, including commercial litigation, arbitration, and mediation
    • Start Date of Practice: June 2000
    • No. of attorneys/staff: One
    I started my own law practice because... “ I needed to do things my own way, after being with firms for nearly two decades; and I knew I had the discipline to devote considerable time and efforts to the tripartite necessities of marketing/rainmaking; administrative/organizational tasks; and yes, doing the actual legal work for the clients, simultaneously. “ One significant accomplishment in my practice: “ Developing sufficient experience and reputation in the legal and business communities to advance understanding of Alternative Dispute Resolution through publishing, speaking engagements, non-profit Board service, etc.”
  • 16. The Law Offices of Dawn Elaine Bowie, P.C., t/a Maryland Family Law Firm; Rockville, Maryland http://www. marylandfamilylawfirm .com  Blog : http://www. marylandfathersrights .com
    • Jurisdiction: Maryland
    • Date of Admission: 2002
    • Practice Focus Area: Family Law
    • Start Date of Practice: 2004
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 1 lawyer, plus contract attorneys and staff, as needed
    What I do in my practice matters because.... “ I do something that matters to society, and changes the lives of children for the better.” One significant accomplishment in my practice: “  When their mothers won't, and when their fathers care about their kids more than anything else, I help these children keep their relationship with their fathers reasonably intact. ” Dawn Elaine Bowie, Esq.
  • 17. Law Office of Thomas J. Crane; San Antonio, Texas www. sanantonioemploymentlawblog .com
    • Jurisdiction & Date of Admission: Louisiana (1983) and Texas (1988)
    • Practice Focus Area: employment law and social security appeals
    • Start Date of Practice: Jan, 1989 and Mar 9, 2009
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 2
    What I do in my practice matters because.... “ I help people. People who have been fired or lost their jobs through no fault of their own are incredibly upset. It is a privilege to represent them and counsel them. It is equally rewarding to assist small business owners with employee issues.” One significant accomplishment in your practice “ Closed my office when I was called to active duty in 2003 while ensuring all clients had new, skilled lawyers if they chose to continue their case.” Thomas J. Crane
  • 18.
    • The Erb Law Firm, PC; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • www.erblaw.com
    • www.taxgirl.com
    • Jurisdiction & Date of Admission: NJ 1997, PA 2000
    • Practice Focus Area: Tax, Nonprofits, Estates  
    • Firm:  International, Corporate, Tax, Business Immigration, Estates
    • Start Date of Practice: 2000
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 11 total:  5 attorneys, 2 Of Counsel, 1 intern, 2 support staff, 1 researcher
    • My mission in my law practice is...
    • “… to make sure that my clients leave thinking that it wasn't at all what they thought it would be - and that's a compliment.  Many folks are put off by the thought of going to a lawyer. That shouldn't be the case. Clients shouldn't be discouraged from seeking out answers.  And I think it's my mission to provide solutions - and value - for my clients.”
    • One significant accomplishment in my practice
    • “ In terms of recognition, I'd say making the list of the ABA Journal Blawg 100 for my blog, www.taxgirl.com”
    • Kelly Phillips Erb
  • 19. The key to a starting a successful law practice is.....   “ Minimizing overhead. Expenses and long-term commitments can kill a promising practice. Keep a close eye on the bottom line, and always think through your purchases. For example, do you really need traditional office space right off the bat? Could you work from home instead?” Andrew Flusche Andrew Flusche, Attorney at Law; Fredericksburg, Virginia http://www.andrewflusche.com/
    • Jurisdiction: Virginia
    • Date of Admission: October 2007
    • Practice Focus Area: Traffic Defense
    • Start Date of Practice: May 9, 2008
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 2, myself & 1 in-office assistant
    One significant accomplishment in your practice: “ In one year, I went from no clients to more than I can handle.”
  • 20. http://www. simplejustice .us/ Scott H. Greenfield Do great work for every client you take on.  Be the best lawyer there is.  Serve your clients completely….     Being a lawyer is not about getting home early, having plenty of time to play with the kids, go to the bar with friends, enjoying life.  It's about representing clients...   The secret to success has nothing to do with a great website, or spamming for clients, or social media, or advertising.  Those are the methods of people selling used cars.  You can make some money that way, provided that you envision your career as performing mediocre quality, high-volume, low-paying work.  If that's where your aspirations lie, then the marketing magic bullet will be just the ticket.     Be excellent and you will have more business, and better business, than you could possibly handle. 
  • 21. Leanna Hamill, Attorney at Law PC; Hingham, MA  www. HamillLawOffice .com
    • Jurisdiction: Massachusetts
    • Date of Admission: 2004
    • Practice Focus Area: Estate Planning & Elder Law 
    • Start Date of Practice: October 2005
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 1 attorney, 2 part time assistants - one attorney, one paralegal 
    My mission in my law practice is... “… to help strong families through trying times– to protect their choices, preserve their relationships and pass down the things that matter. I take care of the legal matters so my clients can take care of their families.”  One significant accomplishment in my practice “ Being quoted in Money Magazine as a result of my blog. ” Leanna Hamill
  • 22. Walter D. James III, PLLC; Grapevine, Texas (Dallas/Ft. Worth) www. jamespllc .com http: //environmentalblog . typepad . com/environmental_crimes_blog/
    • Jurisdiction: Texas
    • Date of Admission: November 6, 1987
    • Practice Focus Area: Environmental law 
    • Start Date of Practice: March 1, 2004
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 2 (one staff) 
    I started my own law practice because... “ I was tired of BIGLAW’s way of doing things – there has to be a better way to delivery services.” One significant accomplishment in my practice: “ I am helping clean up the environment by assisting clients in negotiating the regulatory process.” Walter D. James III
  • 23. John D. Kitch, Attorney Nashville, Tennessee
    • Jurisdiction & Date of Admission: Tennessee, 1976; U.S.S.Ct., 1979; U.S. 6th Circuit, W.D., M.D., E.D. Tenn. District Courts
    • Practice Focus Area: Trial and Appellate, Probate, Public School System defense
    • Start Date of Practice: September 11, 1976
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 1 lawyer, I assistant  
    My advice to new solos is... “… watch the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves. “ One significant accomplishment in my practice: “ Named American Bar Association Sole Practitioner of the Year in 1997” John D. Kitch
  • 24. Koehler Law; Washington, D.C. www.koehlerlaw.net
    • Jurisdiction & Dates of Admission: Pennsylvania (October 06); District of Columbia (November 09)
    • Practice Focus Area: Criminal and DUI Defense
    • Start Date of Practice: November 6, 2009
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 1
    “ I am at that point in my life in which I don't want someone else telling me what to do. I resigned from my position at the Philadelphia Public Defender's Office… and I thought: why not work for someone who thinks I am the greatest? I was also inspired by my wife who now has a very successful small firm practice four years after leaving big law.” One significant accomplishment in my practice “ Eleven days into my practice, I've launched what I believe is an impressive website and blog.” Jamison Koehler
  • 25. Law Offices of Laura S. Mann, LLC; West Milford, New Jersey www. mannlegal .biz
    • Jurisdiction & Dates of Admission: NJ, 1996; NY, 1998; OH, 1998; US Tax Court, 2003
    • Practice Focus Area: General practice, with a concentration in non-profit corporations, family law and special education.
    • Start Date of Practice: March 5, 2008
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 1
    My advice to new solos is... “ Know your market and find your niche, whether it’s a particular segment of the population (elderly, children, women, etc.) or substantive area (business law, family law, IP). Utilize the many free or low-cost resources available to you, online or otherwise. Then sit back and enjoy the ride!” One significant accomplishment in your practice “ Making it past the first year and still going strong!” Laura S. Mann
  • 26. Law Office of Elaine Martin; Dallas, Texas www. martinvisalaw .com www. martinvisalaw . blogspot .com
    • Jurisdiction & Dates of Admission: Ireland, 1986. Texas, 1995
    • Practice Focus Area: Immigration
    • Start Date of Practice: September 16, 2008
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 1
    What I do in my practice matters because.... “ I help people do something incredibly important to them - to work where they want to work, to bring their spouse here from overseas, to allow their children stay here, to allow their frustrated spouses go to work, to get them green cards so they can stay as long as they like, to get US citizenship.” One significant accomplishment in your practice “ I'm excited that I was profitable from the first day of solo practice. I'm not buying yachts or jets, but I'm not on food stamps either.” Elaine Martin
  • 27. Smith Law Group, P.C.; Austin, Texas http: //texasappellatelawblog .com
    • Jurisdiction: Texas
    • Date of Admission: November 1, 1996
    • Practice Focus Area: Civil appeals and litigation support
    • Start Date of Practice: July 12, 2006
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 3
    My mission in my law practice is... “… to serve as the “appellate section” for trial lawyers who don’t have that resource within their firms, or for in-house counsel wanting to add appellate expertise to their trial teams.  Getting involved in cases early helps the appellate process go more smoothly.” One significant accomplishment in my practice “ Obtaining reversal of a trial-court judgment for a Hurricane Katrina victim whose post-storm attempts to recover her dog had been unsuccessful.” D. Todd Smith
  • 28. Lisa Solomon, Esq. Legal Research & Writing, New York www. QuestionOfLaw .net
    • Jurisdiction: New York
    • Date of Admission: 1994
    • Practice Focus Area: Legal research and writing for other lawyers on a freelance basis
    • Start Date of Practice: 1996
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 1
    I started my own law practice because... “ I wanted to have an intellectually stimulating practice with flexible hours that I could run from a home office” One significant accomplishment in your practice “ I have advised scores of lawyers on how to start and run successful practices as contract lawyers.” Lisa Solomon
  • 29. Tannebaum Weiss; Miami, Florida www. tannebaumweiss .com
    • Jurisdiction & Dates of Admission: Florida, 1995, US District Court, Southern and Middle Districts of Florida, 1996, U.S Supreme Court, 2000
    • Practice Focus Area: Criminal and Bar Admission and Grievance Defense
    • Start Date of Practice: March 5, 1998
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 4 Lawyers, 7 Staff
    The key to a starting a successful law practice is.....  “ Not talking yourself out of it. There's always a reason not to do something. To be successful you must first be a good lawyer, not just a good marketer. Marketing only gets you so far. Word of mouth is where the real clients are. Word of mouth can launch, or kill your practice.” One significant accomplishment in my practice “ Being recognized by the National Law Journal for one of the top 10 defense verdicts in the United States” Brian L. Tannebaum
  • 30. Winghart Law Group; Redwood City, California www. winghartlaw .com
    • Jurisdictions & Dates of Admission Georgia 1999 (Inactive) & California 2003
    • Practice Focus Area: Insurance coverage litigation; civil litigation, intellectual property litigation
    • Start Date of Practice: October 1999
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 0
    I started my own law practice because... “ I knew I could make my firm a success. I have three little kids who were not getting enough of my time. I wanted to be able to make the parent-teacher conferences and be the attorney in court. The only way to do both was my own practice.” One significant accomplishment in your practice “ I helped save a woman's home from a fraudulent lender who attempted to foreclose on her home after agreeing to modify her mortgage.” Andrew D. Winghart
  • 31. Zuger Law Office PLLC; Burnside, Kentucky www. greenerattorney .com
    • Jurisdiction: Kentucky
    • Date of Admission: 2007
    • Practice Focus Area: "Greener" Estate Planning, "Greener" Business Counseling, and Environmental Law Start Date of Practice: 1996
    • No. of attorneys/staff: 1
    I started my own law practice because.... “ I believe that the profession, and our clients, have the opportunity, responsibility, and, perhaps, the duty to utilize the law in order to advance the stewardship of our natural resources.” One significant accomplishment in my practice: “ I was named Sierra Club's 2009 Volunteer of the Year in its Kentucky chapter for energy litigation work, and committee and administrative work.” Edward George Zuger III

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