Last Saturday night I was talking to a group of college students, some who were thinking about law school. They liked the idea of law school, but were concerned about the job market for young lawyers. I told them they could always think about starting their own law practice and they were interested to know more.
Going into your own law practice straight out of law school can be very rewarding, but (in this day and age) I told them my best advise would be to start planning your law practice way before you graduate from law school and take the bar exam. Of course, there are many things that go into starting your own business, but here are some that I thought would be most beneficial to law students.
- First, you should have to have a pretty good idea of where you want to practice and an appreciation of the finances involved in a start up law practice. Office sharing with a group of other lawyers is often a great way to keep start up costs down and there is always the possibility that the lawyers you share common space with can pass on valuable experience as to the tricks of the trade. As I was getting started in my own practice, I was able to do legal research for an experienced lawyer. This not only was helpful in giving me a foundation into handling legal matters, but I also was able to make some side income.
- Second, I think it is a good idea to investigate an area of law you want to concentrate it. Nobody is going to hold you to your decision, but you can start this investigation by working as a summer intern in law firms that do that kind of legal work. Though that experience, you not only begin to learn about what practicing law is all about, you can also begin networking with the legal community. The sooner you begin collecting lawyers business cards, the better.
- Finally, if I was as a law student in 2018 and thinking about the possibility of my own practice, I would post a website and work on improving my Linked In profile. Your on-line presence is going to be vital to your future marketing and client procurement efforts. In addition to your educational and work experience up to that point, you might post a little bit about your future aspirations. It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged site, just start out small and by the time you pass the bar, you will have a strong head start.