Career Alternatives, Job Searches, Layoffs, Small Law Firms, Solo Practitioners

Can’t find work? Start your own firm.

sarah buckley and alexandra hutchings b & h.jpgThe number of attorneys looking for jobs continues to grow each month. And we can’t help running into them in New York, ground zero for attorney layoffs. We asked one Thacher refugee whether he had thought about banding together with other jobless legal eagles to start their own venture. “Too junior, not interested,” he replied.

Well, that’s not stopping two recent law grads from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The Kansas City Star reports that Sarah Buckley and Alexandra Hutchings were unable to find work after passing the Missouri bar exam last year, so they’ve started their own firm: Buckley & Hutchings, LLC:

The question remains, though, whether they are an exception or — as more law school grads find a serious shortage of law firm jobs — the start of a trend.

Are these bright-eyed, bushy-tailed UMKC grads blazing a novel trail? More after the jump.

It may be easier to do in Kansas City than New York City. But it wouldn’t be unprecedented:

[A]ccording to [National Association for Law Placement] data, around 3 percent of graduates open their own firms each year. But in 1992-93 that rose to around 7 percent, an increase that could be the result of an economic downturn at the time, said Judy Collins, the association’s director of research.

We wonder how many of those firms founded in ’92/’93 are still around today.

James Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement, chimes in with skepticism, and cautions new grads against hanging their own shingle.

[F]reshly minted lawyers may know legal theory, but they rarely know the more practical stuff: how to bill clients, for example, or how to navigate the court system. Also, running a law firm is closely akin to running a small business. Few young lawyers learning the ropes of their profession could handle the added burden of keeping the books and being sure the light bill gets paid.

Unfortunately, senior management at Thelen, Thacher, and Heller Ehrman weren’t able to handle that added burden either.

Starting your own firm does require sacrifices:

For now, Buckley lives at home with her parents to save money, and she is looking for a second job. Hutchings has a second job as a hostess at a Country Club Plaza restaurant.

But Sarah Buckley says, “At least we have some place to go every day.”

Fledgling lawyers start legal firm after futile job searches at other practices [Kansas City Star]

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