Why Not Start Your Own Law Firm

AbovetheLaw are welcoming  new columnist Carolyn Elephant, blogger at MyShingle.com.  And her first column is about starting your own law firm.  Why not?


Let me start my inaugural column here at Above the Law with a question: Why not start your own law firm?

To be clear, I’m not directing this question at those of you who are gainfully employed in a legal job, however tenuous or intolerable. Over the course of this column, I’ll discuss whether and in what circumstances it makes sense to jump ship — but for now, I’ll assume that your risk aversion is reasonable.

Likewise, my question isn’t targeted at those of you who have no choice but to work at menial jobs just to survive and simply do n’t have the time or energy to get a firm off the ground. Again, there are ways that you can make starting a firm work, but it may take a lot more effort than you have to give.
No — for now, I’m just asking those of you who really have no choice. For example, if you graduated from law school more than a year ago and you’ve been sending out résumés constantly and haven’t had a nibble. Or those of you who have had a doc review job here and there, but nothing steady — but at the same time, you’re fortunate enough to have a spouse or partner or family who can at least cover your living expenses while you get a firm off the ground. Or maybe you’re more experienced — perhaps your law firm pushed you out as you were nearing 65 and you’re not ready or can’t afford to stop working yet, but nothing else has presented itself.

In these kinds of back-against-the-wall, nowhere-to-go-but-leave-the-law-entirely cases, is the horror or shame of starting a law firm worse than being unemployed or junking your JD?

What stops you from just setting up an online profile and printing a few business cards just to test the waters and let people know you’re out there? Heck, you don’t even have to buy malpractice insurance until you find a client. What’s so intimidating about that?

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