This post is part of the MyShingle Solos summer series which will run between June 17 and July 3, 2014.
This post is written by MyShingle Guest Blogger Caroline Barnes
I know first hand that starting your own practice right out of law school can seem daunting. You will face many people telling you that you cannot do it and you will face others who think you can eventually do it, just not right out of law school.
Over the past year, I have learned that starting your own practice right out of law school is possible. You just need the drive to do it. If you have the drive, and have made the decision to start your own practice, here are five tips I have learned over the past year that may be beneficial to you:
1) Don’t be afraid to learn as you go: As a young attorney, you will have to learn as you go in many situations. This can be stressful, but if you are worried about something, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call someone who has more experience.
2) Don’t underestimate the power of networking: The majority of my clients have come from referrals. Reach out to other attorneys in your city or to other attorneys across your state in your practice area. If you have a federal practice, don’t restrict your networking to local are state-wide sources. You should network nationwide.
3) Sign up for listservs in your practice area: Once you join the association for your practice area, join the listservs your association offers. When you are part of the listserv, you will receive questions and answers relating to your practice area via email and you can ask more experienced attorneys questions you may have.
4) Embrace new technology:
-Go Paperless: Do this from the very beginning. I run my paperless office by scanning every document that lands on my desk through my Fujitsu Scan Snap. The Fujitsu Scan Snap really is the best scanner out there right now for scanning legal documents (I promise this is not a paid advertisement). The only issue with my Fujitsu is that if you need to scan certain documents, like passports, you will need another scanner for that. I use the scanner on top of my Brother printer for scanning thicker documents. Once everything is on my computer, I save the scanned documents to Drop Box.
-Use cloud-based practice management software: This allows you to stay even more organized and to access information from anywhere. I use Clio and I highly recommend it. It has helped me keep all my clients organized, keep track of my trust account, and to do billing with ease.
-Try Google Voice for your office phone: Google Voice is a free service and gives you a free phone number in whatever area code you choose. Once you download the Google Voice app to your cell phone, you can have your Google Voice office number ring to your cell phone. You can also have it ring to your computer when you are in your office. Google Voice will transcribe voicemails for you so you can read your voice mail from anywhere.
5) Pay it forward: Every attorney needs help at some point in their career. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help; and when another attorneys asks you for help or advice, pay it forward.
If you are new attorney with tips of your own or a more experienced attorney with some advice for those beginning a solo practice, please share your tips in the comments section below.
Caroline J. Barnes is an immigration attorney and owner of Caroline J. Barnes, Attorney at Law LLC located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Ms. Barnes handles many types of immigration cases including family based immigration petitions, affirmative asylum, and deportation defense. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, playing golf, hiking, and running.