Going Solo; Confessions & Inspirations - Joshua Andrews
This next guest blogger's type of practice is an idea whose time has come. Joshua Andrews loves doing legal work and doing the work for other lawyers as an associate. But at the same time he knows unequivocally he must be his own boss. However, he doesn't just want to limit the work he does for others to just legal research and writing but doing all manner of associate work including court appearances. So, he took his idea to the next level and branded himself and his practice as 'The Outsourced Associate.' Read and enjoy his story. It's a very smart idea. Why? How many times have you said to yourself, "I wish I had an associate but I can't afford to bring one on board." Well, maybe now you can have all the benefits without all the overhead.
Guest Blogger - Joshua Andrews
I have always wanted to work on my own. After graduating from Cumberland School of Law in May, I took the July bar exam, and was admitted to practice in Alabama on September 26. Now, I have achieved my dream of working for myself - I have started my own legal outsourcing practice in Birmingham, Alabama. The road to freedom, however, was not always certain.
When I started law school, I knew I wanted to have my own law firm. When I mentioned wanting to go solo, however, to other students, professors, or worse, the career services office, I was discouraged from the idea. I was told to focus on my grades and not to work during the semester. Going into law school, I was married and my oldest daughter was almost one. I knew I had to work, and I wanted the practical experience that only comes from doing the things that I was learning in class. When I began working, I thought I was gaining experience that would help me when I had my own firm.
Somewhere along the way, however, I resigned myself to the traditional route of working for someone else. I comforted myself by thinking: “Someday, I can go out on my own.” After working the summer after my first year, I found a part-time position with a small firm in town for the school year. Over Christmas break of that year, I was hired by a new solo practitioner. By March, I was offered a full-time position with the firm. At the time, I thought this was the perfect situation. At this firm, I would be able to build the practice I wanted without having the initial worries of starting the practice. I worked full time through the summer and into the beginning of my third year.
I was encouraged by the firm to begin thinking about client development. Despite that encouragement, each potential client I brought for consideration was summarily rejected for one reason or another. I became discouraged and began to think that this dream job did not come with the freedom I wanted. In early January of this year, I left the firm for that and a number of other reasons. Always, in the back of my mind, was the knowledge I had gained from helping this upstart solo practice get off the ground. After leaving the firm, I embarked on what would turn out to be a fruitless job search.
In early March, I discovered Build A Solo Practice, LLC and began to think that it might be possible to go out on my own right after law school. This rekindled the dream I had allowed to be crushed by naysayers. I halted my job search, began researching business models and read material on how to write a business plan. I subscribed to the Build a Solo Practice E-zine, this blog and many others written by solos.
Once I decided to go solo, I needed to settle on a practice area. On March 27, the Janus Research Group guest posted on this blog discussing their legal research and writing practice. In that post, Susan mentioned Lisa Solomon, who also runs a legal research and writing practice. After reading the post, I read more about the Janus Research Group, and about Lisa Solomon on both her firm's site and Legal Research and Writing Pro. After reading about these practices, I became fascinated by the idea of outsourcing legal services. I was intrigued by the possibility of running a business that helped others achieve the renown and success they had always desired. I allowed myself to dream some more, and the idea that has now become my outsourcing practice was born.
After settling on legal outsourcing as a practice area, all that was left was to implement the details. I drafted my business plan, connected with a few people who were in solo practice and continued to read the Build a Solo Practice E-zine and every blog I could find on solo practice. I met a graphic designer on the internet. I asked her to help me create a brand identity. She worked on my image while I took the bar. After the bar, I wrapped up the final details to launch my new legal outsourcing practice. On September 15, 2008, I announced that The Outsourced Associate, LLC was accepting clients.
I cannot say that I do not have fears about being out on my own immediately after law school with a young family to support and student loans to pay. By building my own solo practice, however, I know I am going to be there for my family in a way that I could not if I worked for someone else. Today, I do not have a large salary, but my family has me. I have another baby girl due in February. Now I know, when the time comes, that I will be with my family and not locked up in a library somewhere unable to get away. I love my family, and I love the practice of law. Now that I am on my own, I can keep them in that order.
The Outsourced Associate, LLC
P.O. Box 381474
Birmingham, Alabama 35238-1474