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March 27, 2008

"Passed the Bar (Almost) - Hung A Shingle" - Janus Research, LLC

This post is a little different then the norm.  This is not about one lawyer who has taken the plunge into the solo practice of law.  This is about four current law students who have created a legal research business.

I was so impressed with these four students who have yet to take the bar that I wanted to introduce them to you.  And also to let you know there are many ways to utilize your law degree, hang a shingle and be an entrepreneur.  The front man, the writer of this post, is Joseph Jacoby.  These students discovered their life plans included creating lives for themselves without the traditional time restraints the actual practice of law requires.   And the way to make it work is to pursue their real twin passions, research and writing.  And rather than go it alone, they realize entrepreneurship is in their blood but they need the strength of their mutual commitment to their goals and this gave impetus to the creation of Janus Research, LLC.

Joseph Jacoby, Janus Research, LLC

I have always been an entrepreneur at heart, though I would never have thought that I would be using my adventurous spirit to pay the mortgage. Conversations with close friends had always caused me to think “could I do it?”, but being a solo practitioner never seemed an option.

About halfway through this past summer, I woke up. I was putting in hours working on incredible cases for a well-respected firm. I was hard at work drafting briefs, motions and memos till my fingers were falling off, when a friend called me to meet up with him and a fellow member of our study group.

Sitting on the patio of a favorite local pub, we enjoyed a couple beers, joked about how little law school had taught us about practicing, and discussed what it would take for us to start out on our own. All three of us soon realized that we did not desire to work for a big firm and that the drive for us was to have careers we loved but would not control our personal lives. Most importantly we came to the conclusion that practicing law was enjoyable and had its perks, but the real thrill came with research and writing. I felt inspired, like a lightbulb had been switched on and I could clearly see that this was the path to take. My entrepreneurial spirit was stirred. Research and writing would give us the chance to learn about many areas of law, network with countless attorneys and build an incredible working knowledge of many practice areas.

We met weekly for the rest of the summer, discussing everything about business ideas and where we would want it to be in one, two, five and ten years. The conversations were candid and empowering. Fall came and our conversations became more involved. School was a priority, but felt more and more like work. Our meetings were invigorating feeling more like the pursuit of a passion. The realization soon hit that the only guaranteed path to a balanced life was our self-made path.

That is when the rubber met the road. We started to get the appropriate forms together, build an internet presence, assign tasks, draft an operating agreement and add one last member. The conversations that had taken place over the previous summer and fall semester proved to be of immeasurable value. We knew where we were heading and all of our decisions and discussions became streamlined because of it. Eventually we were a unit, a company, united by a desire to work with each other and for each other so that we could be free from slaving for a senior partner’s bank account.

We became Janus Research Group, L.L.C A group that will allow lawyers from any size firm to outsource research, writing document review and other “grunt” work, leaving the lawyer to make rain or take a breather from the daily grind. We are quality legal research, on demand. The hope is that all of the legal profession will benefit from our services by having help on demand and that solo practitioners can grow their practice without having to take on an associate or partner.

Janus Research Group will allow us to do the work we love; research and writing. It also will act as a foundation for when we expand beyond research and writing into a law practice of our own.

The initial response we have had to our business has been incredibly encouraging. Professors who have done this work before have been willing to step in and offer their input, former employers have stated their interest in using our services, and classmates have even been asking for jobs.

I know that it is not typical for graduates who go solo to quickly associate with others because of the added expense and logistics, however, that is where we get our strength and stability.

I am more at ease now than I have ever been in life. I know that my success and my company’s success rests on the shoulders of people I know and trust. More importantly, my success is directly tied to the work that I do. I do consider myself a member of the “solo practitioner” community, I am just doing things with a “twist”. I appreciate the legal education I have received, but the real value for me is the fire that I have within myself to pursue the unknown.

In August, following the July bar exam, we will officially open our doors and accept new clients. One of our members will be in Boston, while the remaining three will be in the Southeast. No BMW in the garage or corner office, but that is not me. I am a husband, a photographer, a sailor and soon to be a lawyer. I am proud to be entering into this profession but I take more pride in the entrepreneurial spirit that Janus Research Group is built upon because of Anthony, John, Jessica and myself.

Joseph Jacoby
Managing Partner
Janus Research Group
Phone: 1-877-786-2618
Post: PO Box #131310 Ann Arbor, MI 48113-1310

I'm really impressed with these four students because they have discovered while in law school a different way to practice law.  However, I recommend they start following the wisdom of the Queen of Legal Research and Writing, Lisa Solomon at Question of Law, because she knows how to successfully capture a market with her high-quality research and writing and has the ability and desire to teach others how to emulate her own success.

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Comments

Chuck Newton

No website?

This practice niche lends itself to a website if not a blog.

Even if not from an advertising standpoint, it makes you readily available to attorneys and others that need your help. They know where to go to find it.

Other than that, best wishes.

Susan Cartier Liebel

Chuck,

My mistake. I forgot to put it in. It's there now. Thanks for letting me know.

Joseph Jacoby

I appreciate the comment on having a website, we are working in that direction for a permanent "business card" style presence on the web.

We do however also appreciate the power of a blog in spreading legal news and ideas with other professionals. Coupled with the networking power, a blog is the best method of maintaining a presence on the web while finishing our education.

Thanks for the well-wishes.

Lisa Solomon

Thanks for the kind words, Susan.

I share the same passion for legal research and writing that Joseph describes, and heartily agree with him about the benefits of this type of practice.

Janus launching at the perfect time: lawyers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of using contract attorneys to perform discrete tasks, whether the task is making a court appearance, defending a deposition, or researching and writing a brief. I believe there is amazing pent-up demand for high-quality outsourced legal research and writing services, and welcome Joseph and his colleagues to the field.

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