In a column entitled Start-Up of You, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times made the case for a new model of career development. According to Friedman, this job market is “not your parents’ job market,” in which you could expect to move up the corporate ladder at a single company and then retire. In this job market, things are no longer so stable. To be competitive in this new market, Friedman suggests that you treat your career as if it were your own business. This means that you should constantly experiment and adapt, search for growth opportunities, and be resilient.
This is great advice for lawyers (both Biglaw and small-firm lawyers). This advice, however, can be taken even further. As many solo practitioners will tell you (and as one in fact did), having a law degree means that you can do more than treat your career as if it were a business; you can actually have a career where you have your own business….
Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.
It is not easy staying abreast of all of the important issues affecting small firms, but I do it because my words impact our nation’s policy. Do you think it was a coincidence that less than a week after I instituted the Small Firm Pro Bono Push, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee suggested that private-sector employees need to do more pro bono work? Obviously not.
But sometimes even I need guidance. So I enlisted the help of Susan Cartier Liebel, the guru of solo practice.
Liebel founded Solo Practice University (“SPU”) in order to provide the resources for people to start their own firms that she found to be utterly lacking when she first decided to hang a shingle. SPU offers a wide variety of educational programs and networking opportunities. As Liebel stated, SPU provides the 360-degree experience to learn how to open a law firm in a simple-to-use and cost-effective online platform.
Above the Law covered SPU back in 2009, but much has changed over the past two years. Learn more about SPU after the break….
Ed. note: Welcome to the latest installment of “Notes from the Breadline,” a column by a laid-off lawyer in New York. Prior columns are collected here. You can reach Roxana St. Thomas by email (at email@example.com), follow her on Twitter, or find her on Facebook.
Thank you so much for the back-to-school care package you sent when I started classes at Solo Practice University! I must ask: where did you find the Wonder Twins pencil box? I absolutely adore it, and I love the Trapper Keeper (and the puffy stickers with googly eyes!) you picked out. I am also crazy about the Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox, and the note you included was very thoughtful. (I’m not sure that “Knock ‘em dead!” is appropriate advice for a lawyer, but why split hairs?)
I’ll address, seriatim, the questions you posed in your enclosed letter. Regarding your first question (“What are you going to wear on your first day of class??”), I had a hard time deciding between the plaid skirt, button-down shirt, and penny loafers you helped me pick out when we went back-to-school shopping, and something a little more casual, like the Guns ‘n Roses t-shirt and holey jeans you turned your nose up at when I was modeling outfits. (I believe your exact words were “If you think you’re leaving the house dressed like that, young lady, think again,” and “If I put a 7-11 hot dog and a Slurpee in your hand, you’d look like Britney Spears – on a bad day.”)
But that, my fashion-forward friend, is the beauty of Solo Practice University: I don’t have to leave my house to go to class. Susan Cartier Liebel, the headmistress of Solo Practice University, calls it “carpet commuting,” but since, as you know, I live in true Manhattan-style squalor and thus do not have a carpet, I simply call it “convenient.” In any event (and because I also do not have an air conditioner), I opted for a tank top with a large coffee stain on the front, and shorts. Though I was certain my mother would pop out of the closet, smack me on the back of the head, and remind to “dress for the job you want,” she did not make an appearance. The cats, however, channeling her disapproval, looked at me with disdain.
As for your second question, things here at Solo Practice University, or “SPU,” as we call it on campus, are going well. The classes that SPU has to offer are – at this point – too numerous to list here, but as you know, they are divided four general areas: Substantive Law, Marketing and Management, Technology, and Work/Life Balance. In fact, the course content is so voluminous that I spent a few undignified minutes wringing my hands, uncertain about where to begin. (Again, the beauty of SPU is that no one can observe, firsthand, your minor meltdowns.)
No, Lat: there’s no need to start gathering piles of Zoloft for my next care package (although a little Valium never hurt anyone – let’s talk later). It turns out that my generalized anxieties, and the sense of being overwhelmed by the nuts and bolts of solo practice, were a valuable object lesson. Many people, Susan told me, are derailed by their fear of solo practice. One of her goals, therefore, was simply to “demystify” the reality of lawyering without a net. This led me to a minor, but useful, epiphany about one of my perceived barriers to solo practice: my fear of commitment.
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
The JOBS Act created new tools for companies to publicly advertise securities deals online. As a result, thousands of new deals have hit the market and hundreds of millions in capital has been raised, spurring a wealth of new business development opportunities for attorneys.
Fund deals, startup capital raises, PIPE deals and loan syndicates are just a handful of the transactions benefiting from the JOBS Act. InvestorID FirmTM is a platform designed to help attorneys equip their clients with the workflow, marketing and compliance tools to publicly solicit a securities offering online. By providing clients with the tools to painlessly navigate the regulatory landscape of general solicitation, InvestorID FirmTM helps attorneys add value above just legal services.
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) went into effect in 2013 and permits Regulation D offerings of securities to be advertised publicly. This means that funds and companies can now use social media, emails and web sites to market transactions to new “accredited” investors.
However, with these new powers come new pain points. InvestorID FirmTM provides a secure, fully hosted, cloud-based platform with a breadth of tools for your clients, including: