"Passed the Bar - Hung A Shingle" - Susan L. Beecher, Esq.
There is a significant number of law students that will be graduating over the age of 40. They go to law school for many reasons but the big one seems to be, "I want to work as long as I want to work without someone telling me I have to retire."
This week in "Passed the Bar - Hung a Shingle" we are introducing Susan L. Beecher, who graduated at the age of 52 and immediately went into solo practice. She brings a wealth of business experience to the profession and concentrates in that area of law, helping small business owners with every facet of their operation. Most importantly she states:
I also understand that a business that will not innovate will not grow. The law does not forbid innovation, and neither should lawyers. I believe my responsibility as counsel for developing companies is to work hard to find lawful and ethical ways to help them achieve their objectives, and to avoid the phrase, "You can't do that" whenever possible.
Meet Susan L. Beecher.
Law has always interested me, but I never seriously considered becoming an attorney until my late 40’s. I had been running my own freight forwarding company for twelve years, but realized that market and regulatory changes had made the field inhospitable to small participants. Law, on the other hand, still warmly welcomes the solo and small firm. So I sold my company, and fortunately made enough to put myself through law school and have something left over for the startup.
I attended the University of Washington, where many of my professors encouraged me to consider working for someone else for a while. By graduation, I acknowledged that I had the full complement of blank spots that law school inevitably leaves in one’s education, but I decided to take the leap anyway. Too many of my classmates, especially those "of a certain age" (I was 52 when I graduated) were having too much trouble lining up that first job. I decided I’d rather spend my time puzzling out court rules than sending out resumes.
The next piece of advice I decided to ignore was the accepted wisdom that says a new solo should keep costs low by starting out practicing from home. I rented a reasonably priced office in a building with eight other lawyers. Professional appearance and separation of work from home were both factors, but mainly, I sought mentors. I was fortunate to find several attorneys who were quite willing to offer the advice and guidance that a newly minted lawyer would normally look for from a supervising attorney.
I’ve never regretted going directly solo. I make it a point not to look back and not to look down. When I feel overwhelmed by some mysterious task that was never even hinted at in law school, I remind myself that I knew there would be days like this, and I know there will be more in the future. I can take all the time I need to figure out how to do the job correctly, and only bill the client for the amount of time it should have taken, because no one cares if my billable hours do not reach an expected level.
I’m enjoying myself and, less than six months into practice in business and employment law, I’m already able to pay myself. I’m not making what my classmates at Big Law are pulling in, but I suspect I’m much happier in my work
Susan L. Beecher, Attorney at Law
8407 South 259th Street, Suite 205
Kent, Washington 98030