Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Advice for new law grads going solo

Recent law grads who can't find jobs are hanging shingles in records numbers according to a report released by the NALP. And while going solo right out of law school is daunting in the best economic conditions, some who've taken the plunge are finding that things are working out better than they expected. This story from the Connecticut Law Tribune (via describes a couple of recent law grads who have been able to build a practice in a short amount of time by networking like crazy, placing ads and cutting overhead to the bone.  Here's an excerpt:

Jason G. Doyon, a graduate of Western New England University School of Law, . . .  started his own practice just as the economic downturn began in December 2007. He said he started making money at his East Windsor general practice within five months and may hit six figures this year.

Not bad for a guy who was forced for a time to return to the factory where he had worked as a high school kid after graduating from law school. "Ultimately, I just got frustrated with submitting résumés and applications for jobs and not getting anything back. Ultimately, I decided to put my degree to use. Enough was enough," Doyon said.

He built up a clientele via word of mouth, networking and a small ad in a local weekly newspaper. A member of the moot court team in law school, he said he does some criminal defense work, along with wills and trusts, real estate closings and landlord-tenant law.

Like his peers, Lucas Hernandez credited mentors with helping to guide him to a successful career when he decided his first boss in the legal field would be himself.

"I wanted to be my own boss; I wanted to work in the community I was from," said Hernandez, who had an office in Bridgeport for several years before recently moving to Stratford.

After working in a family business for several years following graduation from Cornell University Law School in 2000, he was ready to take the plunge. And he did it the hard way in 2004. "I literally got my start in the legal field by pounding the pavement," Hernandez said. "I started going door to door. I told attorneys, 'I'm a new attorney. I'm able to do research and court appearances and here's my card.'"

One older attorney told him he was crazy to go out on his own. But others offered him all the help they could. In one instance, a lawyer offered him free office space if he could clear a working area in the basement.

If you're looking for more advice on how to succeed as a solo (without really trying), you may want to check out which is maintained by Connecticut practitioner Susan Cartier Liebel. According to her bio, Liebel teaches a course at Quinnipiac School of Law called How to hang a shingle right out of law school." We're not endorsing this site but instead merely passing along information to any readers who might be interested.


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