Going Solo Right Out of Law School — To Partner Up or Not?

by Law School Toolbox

Please welcome back to the blog Rachel Rodgers, the intellectual property and business lawyer for digital Rachel Rodgers headshotentrepreneurs. Rachel is here to talk about a subject a lot of young lawyers think about – starting a solo practice and whether to find a partner in the venture.

You can hear more great advice from Rachel at the Catapult Conference – where she’ll be a speaker!

Welcome, Rachel.

Many times, after deciding to open a practice rather than joining an established firm, people start to wonder if they really should go it alone.

The question of “Should I partner with another attorney to start a practice rather than go solo?” is one that I hear a lot.

If you ask a new lawyer or law student, you’ll often get an answer that supports joining forces. But the answer I most often hear from more experienced lawyers is no, or more resoundingly, “Hell no!” So why the disconnect?

The Benefits of an Early Partnership

Starting a solo practice is a very scary idea and often times, the amount of negative feedback you’ll get from every long lost relative or well-meaning friend can be overwhelming.

Simply having a partner who has already bought into the idea of starting a practice with you can be very reassuring.

There is at least one other person who doesn’t think you’re crazy for this dream you have.

Plus that elusive partner will also help share the burden of starting a practice. Because let’s get real here, starting your law practice is going to be an immense undertaking and just the idea of having someone to help you is going to be enticing. They’ll be there to share the workload (and the financial investment) and be a sounding board as you build the practice.

The One (Big) Drawback

However, there are some serious drawbacks by partnering with another young lawyer early on.

By adding a partner you are greatly increasing the money you need to generate from day one.

The financial stress of building a practice is substantial, but it is much easier to support one person with a fledgling practice than it is to support two. We all have dreams of starting a practice and earning $20k a month immediately but the reality is that it takes time to generate that level of revenue. Those early, lean months are much easier to survive if there is only one partner to support.

While some young lawyers could greatly benefit from partnering with the right person, having a partner in your new venture will not provide the support you really need.

Another young lawyer in the exact same situation as you, will have the same questions and struggle with the same issues you’re struggling with.

Additionally, the issues of loneliness, significant responsibility and having someone to bounce ideas off of can be dealt with in a much simpler way. Building a network of other solos that can support you and, in turn, that you can support is a much easier and more effective way to build your practice.

Building a Supportive Network of Solos

Building a supportive network of attorneys is a less-risky, more efficient way to build your practice. Use social media, conferences and bar events to make connections with your colleagues who have already gone through building their own solo firm. They’ll remember the fear they experienced when they went solo and they’ll probably also remember the excitement.

These supportive people are the ones who will help you as you build your practice. They are the ones who will respond to your emails and send you resources when you need them. And, as you grow and learn, you’ll be able to do the same for them. There’s also the added bonus of client referrals, information about everything from productivity apps to helpful books, and developing a community. Coincidentally, it’s also how you will find the right business partner down the road, if you eventually decide partnering is right for you.

Going at it alone IS scary, I’m not going to lie. But it can be done.

I had little experience at running a law firm when I started my practice with $300, an old laptop and 2 clients. It’s true that I had a one-year judicial clerkship after law school and that clerkship definitely built my confidence. But clerking is not practicing law and it did not prepare me for building a solo practice.

Building Your Confidence as a Young Solo

I recommend reading Jay Foonberg’s How to Start & Build a Law Practice. He spends the first few chapters of the book making a case for going solo right out of law school.

One of the excellent points that he makes is that there is no job out there that will prepare you for really practicing law as a solo.

Practicing at big firms for several years doesn’t guarantee you’ll have any transferable skills to starting a small solo firm. And even working at someone else’s small firm may not help you acquire the skills to run your own practice.

There are really only a few requirements for starting your own solo practice right out of law school:

  • First, you have to graduate.
  • Second, you have to pass the bar.
  • Third, you have to want to do it.
  • And lastly, you have to be prepared to work your ass off in the process.

Those four things are truly all you need to start your practice.

Having a partner is not likely to make it easier. And in fact, it may make it harder.

Written by:

Law School Toolbox

Law School Toolbox on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.