My Shingle

Yes, You Can Solo Part Time

by Carolyn Elefant on June 29, 2007 · 6 comments

in Business Models, Work Life Balance

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Conventional wisdom used to be that if you’re going to succeed as a solo, you need to jump in with both feet. But the one rule of solo practice is that there are no rules, only millions of exceptions. And here’s one of those exceptions: Danielle Colyer, a teacher by day, busy real estate attorney by night, as described in this article,
Her Homework: Law Practice
. According to the article, Colyer went to law school after she’d burned out of teaching. But after getting her law degree, she also received a “dream job” offer teaching law to high school students. Still, as a single mom, her teaching salary didn’t go far enough, so she started a real estate closing business on the side. According to the article, these days, she juggles 100 closings with the aid of a part time assistant and earns as much from her part time practice as from her full time teaching job.

So if you’re thinking about solo practice, but too nervous about cutting off your salary entirely, see if you can arrange a part time gig and use it as support to get your practice growing…before making the leap entirely or, keeping a slash career.

  • http://www.legalandrew.com Andrew Flusche

    Hi Carolyn,
    Thanks for linking to that article. I’ve been toying with the part-time idea once I’m admitted to the bar. I’m glad to hear that I’m not nuts. Although I’ve got a full-time public service job to juggle. We’ll see what kind-of free time it provides.
    Love your blog,
    Andrew

  • http://www.legalandrew.com Andrew Flusche

    Hi Carolyn,
    Thanks for linking to that article. I’ve been toying with the part-time idea once I’m admitted to the bar. I’m glad to hear that I’m not nuts. Although I’ve got a full-time public service job to juggle. We’ll see what kind-of free time it provides.
    Love your blog,
    Andrew

  • http://www.susancartierliebel.typepad.com Susan Cartier Liebel

    One of Foonberg’s more interesting concepts is to jump in with both feet to shorten the time between no income and income from your solo practice. He brings up the important point when you are not billing you should be marketing your firm, going to court houses, networking. Spend the full work week working on your practice until the percentage of time billed is greater then the time spent marketing. By dividing your time between your practice and non-legal work you are extending that learning curve.
    In the real world of expenses and committments, this part-time approach has merit. I think, however, it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t detract from your image as a lawyer and what you are trying to build. While some clients will understand, it does depend upon what you are doing to earn the cash.

  • http://www.susancartierliebel.typepad.com Susan Cartier Liebel

    One of Foonberg’s more interesting concepts is to jump in with both feet to shorten the time between no income and income from your solo practice. He brings up the important point when you are not billing you should be marketing your firm, going to court houses, networking. Spend the full work week working on your practice until the percentage of time billed is greater then the time spent marketing. By dividing your time between your practice and non-legal work you are extending that learning curve.
    In the real world of expenses and committments, this part-time approach has merit. I think, however, it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t detract from your image as a lawyer and what you are trying to build. While some clients will understand, it does depend upon what you are doing to earn the cash.

  • tom milburn

    I have some experience with this as I am a police officer who practices part time. I have not been as successful as I would like and have a list of things to do and not to do in this kind of practice. Some of these mistakes have cost me a great deal. Briefly.
    1. Keep office hours, don’t just practice here and there.
    2. Make it clear that practicing law is not a hobby or side gig, particularly when getting paid.
    3. Keep a close eye on how many clients you have on your plate at once. The work won’t always spread out and you may have to do a lot for all of them in one week unexpectedly
    Good Luck

  • tom milburn

    I have some experience with this as I am a police officer who practices part time. I have not been as successful as I would like and have a list of things to do and not to do in this kind of practice. Some of these mistakes have cost me a great deal. Briefly.
    1. Keep office hours, don’t just practice here and there.
    2. Make it clear that practicing law is not a hobby or side gig, particularly when getting paid.
    3. Keep a close eye on how many clients you have on your plate at once. The work won’t always spread out and you may have to do a lot for all of them in one week unexpectedly
    Good Luck

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