From "Going Solo" to "Your Hired"!
This seems to be the gleeful song this month from some of my readers and clients. On the way to opening their solo practices they got job offers they could not resist. Unusual? Not at all. Let me explain.
When you embark on starting a solo practice you are reframing your own attitude about being a lawyer. You are going from the mindset of 'employee' and 'I need to be trained' to 'self-employed' and "I need to start producing business on my own". You are going from asking permission to function in the legal world based upon others' judgment and acceptance of you to accepting yourself non-judgmentally and giving yourself permission to be a business person, rainmaker and service provider. You no longer have your nose pressed up against any sized law firm's window hoping you will be noticed amongst the crush of others; you have stepped back from the crush. You have decided to design your own career and life.
This is heady stuff. This radical shift in your attitude about yourself and your relationship to the professional community, colleagues, judges and clients and the non-legal world you live in emanates from you. You are putting yourself out there as an independent, free thinking self-starter. You are starting to concentrate on your 'connectivity' with colleagues who you no longer see as future employers but peers. You are starting to learn life long marketing skills to promote yourself, not sitting back in a job waiting for a senior partner to hand you a file. You are defining and actively seeking out your ideal client, not reacting to the mandates of others. You are building a laser-focused technologically advanced web presence, not being absorbed by someone else's vision or lack thereof.
And with this change in perspective and attitude, potential employers actually start to take notice as you navigate yourself through the legal community.
I have been approached several times by headhunters specifically asking if I know self-starting solos who may be interested in joining a small firm for advancement and eventual partnership.
And this month I received three separate e-mails from people who started creating their business plans for solo practice, started to connect to colleagues in a different way....getting job offers which they took.
Why were they approached now? They showed confidence, initiative, a sense of how to build a business, understood what they needed to do to build a web presence, had already branded themselves.... and these are all VERY attractive qualities to prospective employers or those looking to even bring in partners.
You may ask, "if these individuals were so keen on going solo, why did they accept jobs?" I have a motto: Plant as many seeds as possible...you never know what will grow. Life is about giving yourself options and the flexibility to answer the door when opportunity knocks. By showing they didn't necessarily NEED employment, they became desirable and were courted. Yet, everyone is different. What matters is whether or not it was the right choice for them, what the incentives were which made it appealing?
I've also had two clients recently accept jobs; jobs which would NEVER have been available to them had they not started the process of going solo. They openly acknowledge this because they are the ones who told me once they repositioned themselves in the community, changed their own perspectives, redirected their energies towards building a business rather than getting a job, they became very attractive to their new employers and the jobs offered were just too perfect to decline.
And for some strange reason my clients thought I would be disappointed they got a position. Absolutely NOT. Life is about options, the right options for each of us. Just because I will help those who want to go solo doesn't mean I'm unhappy when they don't. I want lawyers to feel fulfilled with their careers, to understand there are many ways to practice law. There is happiness in all types of practices. This blog's focus happens to be with the happiness one derives practicing law as a solo. But if you are happy practicing law in whatever form you are doing so....that's the ultimate gratification...for you and me.