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October 10, 2008

When Times Get Tough the Tough Solos Start Building Their Practice

http://www.blogcadre.com/files/images/superheroes.jpgThere is an interesting phenomenon afoot.  The tougher the times, the more people get up off the couch, break through their "I'm afraid" paralysis and finally start taking charge of their lives in a way they may not have in the past.  Is this the result of that dormant 'survival' instinct awakening as the realization hits there is no 'employer' who is going to rescue them with clients, a comfortable paycheck and a 401K or simply the intuitive knowing that no one else is responsible for feeding their families, paying their bills or protecting their homes BUT them.  I don't know the answer. Maybe it's a combination of the above.

However, one realizes very quickly; the time for complaining and commiserating over one's personal employment fate is over.  There has never been a more critical time for serious introspection, resolution and commitment to making something happen. At a time when most feel an overwhelming loss of control their is a tremendous desire to gain control over the future. This might also explain the uptick in those contacting me to help them get started by shortening the learning curve to a profitable solo practice.

While I've always enjoyed a steady flow of business and am grateful to those who have partnered with me in order to get to where they want to go, does it really take a global crisis to awaken these entrepreneurs?  Get them to be proactive in their own futures? For some, yes.

Frustrated legal entrepreneurs who've had private debates about their futures are now coming forward and declaring, "I'm ready. I'd rather sink or swim based upon my own efforts.  I'm not going down without a fight. And I don't see any life rafts or buoys out there."  It's also a time when real heroes are born, the Clark Kents shed their glasses and suits and don their capes and the Wonder Women tease out their big hair and slip on their spandex.  Everyone loves to be a superhero, a chance to present their alter ego.

Whatever the motivation one must always be able to take care of themselves regardless the economic times.  Survival of those best able to adapt and all that, right?

What is your survival gene telling you to do?  What color is your spandex?


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Brian Herrington

This post is somewhat apropos to a conversation I recently had with my wife about my going back into a solo practice. Quick background, I've litigated cases for 13 years and made senior partners a lot of money. I felt it was time to start making money for myself, quit having to worry about interoffice politics, etc., and start my own practice.

Of course, initially, times were tough. I don't get paid until my clients get paid, so I can go 2-3 months without making a dime. The urge is always there to return to a firm for safety. But, last week I made a comment to the effect, "It's time to be my own hero." Yes, that's a bit cheesy, but the principle is true.

The plaintiff's lawyers with lots of money are not really smarter than I am -- I know because I've worked for or with quite a few. Most were just able to stick it out through the tough times and then reap the rewards themselves when cases finally paid off. This is what I'm doing now and I couldn't be happier.

Counter-intuitively, I have more time to spend with my kids, and the stress created by making your own way is much more tolerable than the stress found in a larger firm.

So, I agree with your post and encourage all solos to be their own hero.

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