Thoughts on a Lawyer’s Entrepenuerial Imperative


Recently, there was an exchange of blog posts between Jay Shepherd at Above the Law and Carolyn Elefant at myShingle, taking different views on the imperative of lawyers going solo in a jobless environment. On one hand, Jay argues that the only relevant question to a would-be solo is:

Do you want to run a business, or do you want to practice law?

He contends that if your answer is you want to practice law, then don’t hang a shingle because:

[you will] find [yourself] in the worst possible job [you] could imagine: working as an underpaid wage slave for a complete idiot of a boss. ([Yourself].)

In other words, the labor-intensive process of business management will make you miserable, when all you really want to do is try cases. His response to the lackluster job market? Just keep looking.

His views certainly have merit. No one is very good at doing things they don’t like to do. Running a law (business) practice is no small order, so if your performing it poorly, things could get bad real fast.

On the other hand, Carolyn expresses her concern that:

. . . Jay’s advice will deter from solo practice many really good lawyers who simply don’t view themselves as business people. Moreover, his advice is particularly dangerous in the current economic client where jobs are scarce, and many graduates with law degrees may not have the option of finding a job no matter how long they look. Thus, they may settle for doing document review or leave the law entirely, instead of taking a shot at starting a firm – which can better position them to find a job if that’s what they eventually decide to do.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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