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May 31, 2007

"Passed the Bar - Hung A Shingle" - Kimberly DeCarrera, Esq.

A new inductee into "Passed the Bar - Hung a Shingle" is Kimberly DeCarrera of Atlanta Georgia.

Why did I choose the solo route, especially out of law school?  Looking back over the past several years, I can say that I was always on this path.  From the beginning, I knew that life in the Big Law firms was not going to suit me.  I have family friends that are partners and some are associates in several of the biggest law firms in Atlanta. I saw what they went through on a constant basis.  it was not for me, and I knew it.

During my first year of law school I did all the normal interviews with the major law firms.  It was quickly apparent to me, even during those initial 10-15 minutes interviews, that what they expected was not what I wanted.  My personality does not fit in the big law firm culture.  I admit that I have a fiercely independent mentality and attitude.  Do no tell me that I cannot do something!

Since I knew BigLaw was not for me, I spent my second and third years figuring out what I did want.  At the end of my second year, I clerked for a solo in Atlanta and loved it.  I interviewed for some small firms towards the end  of law school, and I had a few offers.  However, it was difficult finding a small firm where I liked the people, the practice areas, and the pay.  Several firms were also afraid because I was open about the fact that, eventually, I wanted to start my own practice after I get enough experience.

I continued to look while I was studying for the bar exam and while I was waiting for the results.  In the meantime, I worked in the family accounting business and found out that I loved it as well.  The accounting firm has never been better.

I can distinctly remember the day that my mother (the CPA) walked in after a meeting with a client and I told her that another client was completely caught up.  The work for this client was never caught up.  At that point she said, "Stop looking for a job.  Work for me and start your own practice when the bar results come in!"  I thought it over for a little while and my mother sweetened the deal by offering to pay for a Masters in Taxation so that I could get my CPA.  So I decided to take the leap. 

I had worked for a solo for a year and a half, learning a lot about the way things should and should not be run.  I had the support of my family and close friends, including a very successful solo attorney with thirty years experience in the same building.  My old boss supported me wholeheartedly and even serves as my mentor for the Transition into Law Practice Program (Bridge the Gap in some jurisdictions) that Georgia mandates for all first year lawyers.

So, now, here I am.  My law office is at the same location as the accounting office - keeps expenses down and it has a built-in client base.  Many of my law clients have come from the tax and accounting side or from referrals from those clients.  The accounting and the law firms have very complimentary services and client bases.  My website (http://www.DeCarreraLaw.com/) is up and running, although by no means complete (of course, no website ever is!)  Straight out of the gate, I have not made as much as some of my classmates have at BigLaw, although I have made as much as the ones in small practices. I am building something for the future, something that is my own.  I am having tons of fun, both personally and professionally.

Five months after we all received our bar results and I started practicing law, a classmate got married and the reception was a mini-reunion of sorts.  I had not seen many of my classmates since the bar exam and everyone was envious of my decision. So many were already miserable at their jobs and a couple more had already changed jobs.  Although occasionally I have my moments of doubt, I can say that as of right now, I feel that I have made the right decision.  Even if a couple of years down the road, I decide that it wasn't the right decision, I'll have this experience and a CPA to go with my law degree.

Kimberly DeCarerra

DeCarrera Law, LLC

400 Perimeter Center Terrace NE Suite 900

Atlanta, GA 30346-1236

PO BOX 467280

Atlanta, Georgia 31146-7280



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