Monday, May 7, 2012

Let's check-in with a recent law grad going solo; finding mentors is key to success

You may remember back in April we told you about a new blog, Hang Shingles, started by a recent law grad who, facing no job prospects, decided to go solo working out of his apartment bedroom. At the time, our new solo had $3500 in the bank, $130k in student loan debt and had just picked up his fourth case (two of the four are pro bono).  So how's he doing now? 

It turns out he's picked up a few more cases, billed his first 40 hour week and most importantly is getting lots of support from the local community.  In particular, he's found an attorney willing to mentor him in connection with preparing real estate title opinions about which our new solo knows nothing.  As he says, the generosity of others is making it "impossible" for him to fail.

Here's an excerpt from a blog entry called "Busiest Day Yet."

I’m pursuing another project: title opinions.  I spent the afternoon at my county abstracting company.  They were super nice, and sat down with me and spent like an hour going through abstracts with me.  I know, I know, it is really risky and one law professor has already told me not to do it.  Here is the thing though; I also sat down with a lawyer in town who offered to proof each title opinion I do at the start, so I have an experienced eye looking at them before they go back to the customer.  Then, I sat down with a realtor who offered to refer buyers to me.  Could people be any more generous?  Did you read what I wrote?  A lawyer, who I would be taking business from, offered to proof my title opinions for free.  He also offered to let me use his law library for free.  People are just making it impossible for me to fail at this.

I’m going to take this very slow, and make sure I know what I’m doing, but let’s be honest, title opinions are a good way to make some money for a small practice like mine, and I’m going to pursue it.  I just hope the criminal work will keep me afloat.

I don’t think I could have done what I did today in a big city.  I had a lawyer, a realtor, and an abstracter each take like an hour out of their day to sit down with me.  Just awesome, thank you.  Trust me, if down the road I’m established and some young lawyer comes to town trying to do what I’m doing, I swear I’m gonna take him out for steak dinners like every night.

For balance, one commenter (April 20, 2012 @ 7:45 p.m.) warns that some real estate agents may have ulterior motives for wanting to help the new guy learn how to prepare title abstracts so you best be on your toes.

On the more altruistic side, our new solo talks about interviewing for a part time teaching gig at a local community college to help pay some bills. After mentioning to the interviewers that he's trying to start his own law practice, they load him up with free food left over from a staff party. Just goes to show the power of community support.

Click here to read more of the blog Hang Shingles.


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