The case for moving from big law to solo practice is a real a push-me-pull-you kind of choice. There are those who are drawn into independent practice for intrinsic motives and others who are pushed out of employment in large or medium-sized law firms, but find new career paths as entrepreneurial lawyers.
According to available recent statistics, the number of law school graduates is increasing gradually every year by about 5,000 law graduates, yet the number of law graduates able to gain employment in law firms is dropping.
There are many reasons for the changes in the law firm employment landscape, including:
- Globalization. Large law firms are expanding their practices into other countries and other jurisdictions, but not expanding practices at home.
- Alternative legal service providers are more available. The legal marketplace now includes self-help options, virtual law assistance and services provided by knowledgeable para-professionals and legal document preparers.
- Legal processes are increasingly outsourced. The delivery of legal services in larger firms has changed drastically in the past few years. More and more services are outsourced to contract firms to minimize costs.
- Big law selectivity. Employment at larger law firms has become increasingly tightened by factors such as the prestige of the law school and grade-point performance.
These changes mean that opening an independent practice is a more viable option than a position in a large law firm for many new graduates as well as seasoned lawyers. Not only that, but the move toward outsourcing and alternative legal services opens up opportunities for solo lawyers. As businesses move away from contracts with big law firms, they are seeking more flexible and cost-effective arrangements with smaller providers.
Whether you are considering solo practice because of personal motivations or because the marketplace has helped push you in that direction, it is possible to earn clients who are looking for an alternative to big law.
As you move ahead with your decision to open your own law business, keep in mind that you will be a business owner in addition to a lawyer. As a start-up business, that means you must have a tolerance for risk and fluctuating income. It also means you need to be well connected to a network of peers and professionals who can help build your business by referral. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, now is a good time to be a solo lawyer.
LawBank offers a co-working environment in Denver to help ease your transition to private practice. Solo lawyers, contact us to learn about our suites, offices and co-working options.