Being...self employed?

Yes, exactly, I would also say DON’T have a email which doesn’t have one’s own domain? To me that looks, well…
I am sorry I deleted that reply too! It is hard and I think most of us, pretty much every ‘regular’ here in fact, try to avoid the kind of set tos that are too common on social media now. In itself that is welcoming?
I sometimes over step I think though. I was so pleased when David and the gang took MPU off Facebook, which I left shortly after anyway. I spoke to a professional recently, an attorney, who said to me he considers Facebook to be an ‘evil’ entity and a source of nothing but trouble. I think we all try hard to protect sites like this one. This topic is though, unavoidably political in my view to some degree.

It seems to me that your practice is well suited for solo practice (I’m a former Antitrust lawyer, so not so much). I don’t know if it has been mentioned here (or you may already know this), but your best resources are probably from your state bar association. There are a lot of private solo practitioners out there, so bar associations cater to them.

There is definitely a way to go solo, you just have to have a big enough amount of savings to cover the tough early times. Also a few paying clients upfront wouldn’t hurt.

Also I think David Spark’s old Mac Power users partner is in the same practice (although in a different state). That might be a resource too.

Did Katie Floyd not join the judiciary?

As you’d said in a one of your posts, getting the clients is the big question. Being a lawyer without any clients is the same as being unemployed. I am a solo criminal defense attorney. All my business comes from state and federal court appointments. I don’t even take retained cases because the hassle of them. So I don’t think about getting clients.

You are very right to try to meet with other practitioners in your area of practice. Getting clients has to be your number one priority—way more important than automating processes, etc. Of course, now is the perfect time to figure that stuff out while things are slow, but don’t use it as a procrastination device to avoid going out and hustling for clients. I can definitely see how estate work can be highly templat-izable, so I agree that you should use your tech savvy to increase efficiency and sell yourself to clients. But make sure you are going to have the clients first. Also, get a line of credit or whatever financial help available because the next year or two is going to be stony (hopefully the contract work you referred to will help in this regard). A question I would have is how much of your clientele will be repeat (eg annual review of an estate plan) versus one-offs. Of course, the more repeat clients you can get, the better. Good luck! I’m sure you can do it.

Lawyer here, too, and I just wanted to comment on the whole billable hour thing. I did the billable hour treadmill earlier in my career, and have talked to many people still doing it, and I’m always struck by how the system breeds questionable practices. For example, I’ve heard of attorneys traveling to a hearing location where five clients have a hearing, and the attorneys bill all five clients the full rate for the full travel time. Years ago, I heard someone say, only half joking, that if you use the restroom, make sure you at least think about a case for a few seconds, so you can bill the minimum billing increment (.1, which was 6 minutes). I come head-to-head with it in my practice, where my interest (I get rewarded for efficiency) runs head-on into the opposite force.

Billing definitely became a skill, where some lawyers could bill more than others while doing the same amount of work. Half the battle was capturing everything you did on your time sheet/program.

More importantly, I’ve always felt that hourly billing, at least in the legal field, rewards inefficiency. I’ve had conversations where I hear how an attorney performs a task that could be done in a fraction of the time (using automation, for example), but it makes no sense for the person to do it because they get paid for the inefficiency.

I know that turned into a rant by me, and doesn’t really address the original poster’s question, other than to suggest maybe you could differentiate yourself by getting work done more efficiently, with alternative billing arrangements that is better for the client and rewards you for being efficient. Not sure if there’s a market out there for that or not.

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Do any lawyers offer to quote a job? For custom software requested by a client, I had to tell my boss the length of time I thought I could do it in. And we did not get paid any more than the agreed upon price once the client accepted the quote. (We did require a minimum of four hours at our custom rate of $200/hr.)

It sounds like you’ve already done some good planning and have started the research, which is great! Your money situation sounds favorable, and I encourage you to start keeping records and tracking all of your expenses (business and personal) so you aren’t surprised by a shortfall. If you want to keep things lean in the beginning, you’ll have to become your own accountant. Even if you hire someone, you will need to review everything to make sure the accounting is done accurately and correctly, so doing it for a while is good experience.

Although I did my own taxes for many years as a solo practitioner, it was pretty stressful and took a fair bit of time (especially since my primary work location is in my home). I don’t recommend it. Start looking for a tax preparer who can handle your situation now, if you don’t already have one. And if you do start earning well this year, don’t forget to check if you need to pay estimated taxes in January 2023!

Are you going apply for health insurance through COBRA, or are you going to get a Marketplace plan? I think people usually choose COBRA (it maintains your current coverage so you won’t have to change doctors & it’s easy to apply for), but it may not be the least expensive option for you. You have 60 days to get a Marketplace plan in a “special enrollment period” — otherwise, you must wait to apply in November/December for coverage that starts in January of next year. But maybe you knew all of that!

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@ximacloudx Lawyer here. I do estate planning, asset protection, and tax planning. Can you share where you are located?

Sure, I’m in/around Columbus Ohio

And how long have you been practicing?

It is an amazing thing to be free from billable hour requirements. Estate planning, in particular, lends itself to flat-fee billing, which in turn rewards efficiency. If you take the jump, I would suggest making an investment into something like WealthCounsel. It is expensive for sure, but beyond the software, there is a community of other estate planning lawyers who can provide invaluable feedback and education. There are also several great Facebook groups.

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Lawyers bill in many different ways, such as flat fee, contingent fee, and I’m sure other ways, but I’m not familiar with them all. But some lawyers/firms bill mostly by charging an hourly rate.

These comments are spot-on; moreover they’re deeply connected.

A lot of lawyers seem to believe that every client is unique, that every matter if fundamentally different and they would not be acting in the best interests of their clients (something deeply inculcated into lawyers at a young age) to see – at least within a given area of practice – clients’ problems as being variations on a handful of themes. They know of course that this is not the case. I was once told not to mention that the firm I then worked for had an extensive bank of precedent contracts; valuable IP, the investment in which had to be recouped. The unspoken implication was that it was fine to use the precedent, in fact essential from a risk management perspective (i.e.avoiding the firm being sued because I forgot or didn’t know something), but don’t let that impact the billable hours.

Most lawyers manage this cognitive dissonance, but one result is that only very recently have thoughts about project management, let alone process systemisation and continuous improvement entered the profession. Without these techniques – which when I ran a software company in the late '80s and '90s were well known even then – the prospect of fixed fees taking off widely are non-existent.

Pardon me for jumping on my soapbox again, but I am convinced that lawyers offering fixed fees can access parts of the overall market for legal services, particularly the private client and SME market, that are virtually untapped; that’s a huge opportunity. The core skill needed is to shift to a fixed fee is project management, particularly time/ cost estimation. We know that’s possible, it’s being done now in virtually every other knowledge based industry.

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(Company) time tracking in a nutshell. I have a well worn saying, that if anyone ever figures out how time tracking works (in large companies) they will also, simultaneously, have invented time travel.

I work in a company where no-one (in my division of the business) bills to customers directly but we still get flogged regularly to be accurate on our timesheets while, at the same time, being asked to fill them out in advance so they can close the books off at month/quarter/year end. Smoke and mirrors.

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As an accountant I totally agree hourly billing sucks. Is there a service you could “productize” for a set price with limited parameters as a way to set yourself apart and save some time for potential customers that see you as a general “lawyer” and ask you to work on projects you have no interest or expertise?