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Solo Solicitor AMA


Mountebank
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Mountebank
  • Lawyer

Ok.

This is the LAST time I'm starting this up. 

Successor thread of the original thread of lawapps.ca, which was the successor thread of the original thread of ls.ca...

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Kurrika

Do you use a lot of precedents?  If so where do you get them from?  Are those dumb questions?

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Mountebank
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9 minutes ago, Kurrika said:

Do you use a lot of precedents?  If so where do you get them from?  Are those dumb questions?

As a solicitor, I live in an ecstasy of precedent-building. You have to make standard as much as you can so to do as little work while making bank (if you're not working ever toward the goal of collecting obscene income on income while doing no or minimal work, well then you're pretty well rogered as a human being).

Precedents originate from all over (legal texts/looseleafs, CPD materials, and, many time, generous colleagues), but are adapted by you over time to suit your experiences, needs, and style of practice.

Some precedents are wholly homemade (especially certain standard letters to clients) and you tend to guard these somewhat jealously. While others, such as for real estate transactions, are so widely available and adopted that you'll find the same grammatical, formatting, or even factual errors committed by different firms over and over again.

And no, the questions aren't dumb, but highly suspect coming from an established government lawyer.

By the way, this is literally the first time I've noticed what your avatar is. Did you change it? Does the new forum render them larger on the screen?

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Kurrika
Posted (edited)

 

  

22 minutes ago, Mountebank said:

 

And no, the questions aren't dumb, but highly suspect coming from an established government lawyer.

By the way, this is literally the first time I've noticed what your avatar is. Did you change it? Does the new forum render them larger on the screen?

I just wanted to get the ball rolling 🙂

I’ve used a variation on Mr Toad for a very long while (reading newspaper, putting on motor car gloves, etc...) - I’ve got the last one I used for ls.ca saved on a different computer so I used an earlier avatar.

 

Edit - also yes the avatars seem bigger here.

Edit edit - switched to the last one I was using at ls.ca

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GreyDude
  • Applicant
On 6/7/2021 at 4:46 PM, Mountebank said:

Ok.

This is the LAST time I'm starting this up. 

Successor thread of the original thread of lawapps.ca, which was the successor thread of the original thread of ls.ca...

Heh, fair enough on the thread-starting. 
 

I’m wondering what your practice area(s) is (are) and what areas you would consider best suited (least well suited) for solo practitioners.
 

The reason for the question is that I usually think that solo work or work with a small boutique will turn out best for me, but my main interests are all public interest generally speaking—mainly activity  connected to poverty and NGO work, but possibly union side labour, or immigration with a focus on refugees.  You know: the really lucrative stuff.  

Since I’m really just entering 0L, I’ll start to firm up the practice goals if and when I’m actually attending law school, but do these sound like the sorts of practIce areas that could (or could not) sustain a solo practice?

Thanks! 

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Mountebank
  • Lawyer
42 minutes ago, GreyDude said:

Heh, fair enough on the thread-starting. 
 

I’m wondering what your practice area(s) is (are) and what areas you would consider best suited (least well suited) for solo practitioners.
 

The reason for the question is that I usually think that solo work or work with a small boutique will turn out best for me, but my main interests are all public interest generally speaking—mainly activity  connected to poverty and NGO work, but possibly union side labour, or immigration with a focus on refugees.  You know: the really lucrative stuff.  

Since I’m really just entering 0L, I’ll start to firm up the practice goals if and when I’m actually attending law school, but do these sound like the sorts of practIce areas that could (or could not) sustain a solo practice?

Thanks! 

Well, both union-side labour and immigration can be very lucrative practice areas (the former, especially, as there's always plenty of money/corruption to go around). But I don't have any direct experience with either of those - I will say that there certainly are solo lawyers practicing immigration, although I understand it can be somewhat staff-heavy. I expect labour law would be harder since these institutional clients have existing relationships with larger (although not necessary Big) law firms.

I'm basically a solicitor who doesn't do any corporate/commercial work (so, Wills, Estates, and Real Estate). I have a very small litigation practice that I wish I didn't have.

I recently answered the question about which practice areas are best for solos in the other forum, so I'll just paste my answer here:

Quote

Any retail law is good for a sole practitioner because you're not relying on larger firms for institutional clients. Examples of retail law, at least as I mean it, would be: Wills, Estates, real estate, corporate/commercial (although this is a bit of a crossover because just as much corporate/commercial work is institutional as it is retail), family, criminal, and immigration. Other areas less classically suited to sole practice, but still doable, would be plaintiff-side employment, and personal injury (the latter of which is retail in the sense of how you get and end files, but is relatively heavy on the front-end and so not as scalable as some of the foregoing practice areas). Areas that would not be generally conducive to sole practice (but not necessarily impossible - there are solos in every field) would be municipal, labour, management-side employment, and some other, frankly, awful types of law. General civil litigation, like corporate/commercial, runs the gamut and is carried on in firms of all sizes. I would personally never want to be a sole civil litigator, but it's one of the most scalable practices and one of the most straightforward to run completely virtually and without staff at the outset. 

 

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GreyDude
  • Applicant

Gotcha. I almost followed up right away, but as I was writing I saw that I need to think about it first!

I appreciate the patient reply. 🙂

 

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Disbarred
  • Law Student

I’ve always thought about becoming a solo one day, but I am worried I will get too comfortable and never pull the trigger. Maybe some more information can persuade me to go down this road when the time comes. 
 
How would you recommend getting started? Should you look for articles with a solo practitioner or small firm doing similar work you want to get into, or would you be best to take a job in a full service firm for a few years?

How soon do most solo’s go off on their own? Is it practical to start shortly after completing articles, or is it best to get 3-5 years experience? 

Can you comment on how much money you make as a solo? (Perhaps a ball park range via PM if you don’t want to share publicly) I am curious how much/if any money you make during the first couple years, and what a good year might look like 5-10 years in. Money is not my primary concern, I would rather find fulfillng work, but I do have hefty loans to pay off.

Thanks a lot in advance for your insight! 

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Mountebank
  • Lawyer
On 6/11/2021 at 2:24 PM, Disbarred said:

I’ve always thought about becoming a solo one day, but I am worried I will get too comfortable and never pull the trigger. Maybe some more information can persuade me to go down this road when the time comes. 
 
How would you recommend getting started? Should you look for articles with a solo practitioner or small firm doing similar work you want to get into, or would you be best to take a job in a full service firm for a few years?

How soon do most solo’s go off on their own? Is it practical to start shortly after completing articles, or is it best to get 3-5 years experience? 

Can you comment on how much money you make as a solo? (Perhaps a ball park range via PM if you don’t want to share publicly) I am curious how much/if any money you make during the first couple years, and what a good year might look like 5-10 years in. Money is not my primary concern, I would rather find fulfillng work, but I do have hefty loans to pay off.

Thanks a lot in advance for your insight! 

I'm going to paste a recent response to a similar question from the old new forum:

Quote

For my part, I guess I always knew I wanted to run a business and I didn't really ever have any other skills. So, I applied to school partially with the thought that I could turn my law degree into a business.

One of the best things about being out on your own is that you have freedom to do other things. For instance, I have some side-interests and work that I do to vary things, hopefully help to develop more passive or semi-passive income, and so that I don't get sick of my main job as a lawyer that I wouldn't be able to do while at a firm because: A) my employer would own my work product; and B) my employer would probably forbid me from doing it in the first place. I like being able to do my own thing and not having to explain myself to anyone.

I wouldn't really recommend against going solo to anyone as long as that's what they want to do and they think they've prepared themselves adequately (and no one can be a better judge of that than you). I think the people who wouldn't be suitable for a solo practice already know it and lack the interest anyway. I mean, there's a lot that's shitty about running your own business so people don't generally get into it unless they've thought about it.

In terms of when to go solo, this is very personal and will vary a lot. Probably, a lot of people would've waited longer than I did (I was in my second year of call when I left to do my own thing) and it's definitely true that the more experience you can get in practice in a firm environment, the better. But you learn as you go and it's not like you stop learning after you go solo (on the contrary, you spend a heck of a lot more time making yourself competent and relying on yourself more to make it happen).

Yes, it's definitely worth it financially for me. What a solo lawyer earns runs the gamut. Some soles barely make minimum wage, while others pull in well in excess of half a mil. For me, I haven't been on my own even two full years yet, but I'm basically now making what I would have as an associate and, honestly, I'm probably working less (or at least, doing less legal work). I make enough to be the sole breadwinner for a family of five and work almost no weekends. I have one assistant and am in the process of searching for another one. We have a house and some, admittedly meagre, savings, but we don't have cause to worry much about money. I spend a lot of time with my family and I don't have a boss to answer to. It's a good life.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
historicaladvantage
On 6/7/2021 at 4:46 PM, Mountebank said:

Ok.

This is the LAST time I'm starting this up. 

Successor thread of the original thread of lawapps.ca, which was the successor thread of the original thread of ls.ca...

For a young lawyer just of out articling looking to get into solo practice without working as an associate at another firm or working as an associate only for a year or two, what are the biggest challenges, legal, business, marketing, or otherwise? And how do you overcome them? 

Also, what's the time commitment like as a solo practitioner? Do you have a lot of control over the amount of files you take or do you feel overwhelmed at times? 

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Mountebank
  • Lawyer
2 hours ago, historicaladvantage said:

For a young lawyer just of out articling looking to get into solo practice without working as an associate at another firm or working as an associate only for a year or two, what are the biggest challenges, legal, business, marketing, or otherwise? And how do you overcome them? 

Also, what's the time commitment like as a solo practitioner? Do you have a lot of control over the amount of files you take or do you feel overwhelmed at times? 

For the first question, I would strongly encourage you to work as an associate first. This is important not just for competence reasons but also to help you make contacts in your local bar and to help you learn the business of law, office procedures, etc.

If you're starting out on your own without an existing practice, then your principal challenge will always be developing your core business (i.e. building your practice). A lot goes into this, including some of the items you mentioned, but basically this is the never-ending work that you have to do as a sole practitioner (unless you've purchased or otherwise inherited a strong, existing practice, although I expect that comes with a host of legacy problems). You don't ever overcome this challenge; you just keep working at it until you quit or die. So, you're going to have to learn to enjoy it.

More concretely, I would say the biggest challenge is building legitimacy/a name for yourself (again, this may not be applicable to someone who has taken over an existing practice). You want to be thought of as someone reliable to turn to, especially among the local bar. If you can position yourself as a the local expert on some niche or even broader area of law, that can really help. Failing that, just being generally pleasant to deal with goes a very long way in generating referrals.

As to the second question, this is very tough to answer. On the one hand, it's extremely flexible because if you choose not to take on a file, you don't have to explain that decision to anyone. On the other hand, when you're on your own, it's sink or swim and you don't ever really seem to stop worrying about billings. I knew a senior sole practitioner who was billing up to $650k annually (which is a lot for a sole when you consider you're keeping most of that). He'd been at it for years and was up to his eyeballs in work. Yet, he could still never say "no" to new work and he always took drop-ins when they stopped by. Now, I'm not anywhere near where he was, but I'm consistently seeing strong growth in my billings and yet I'm no less nervous than I was when I started. It never really ends.

Apart from the mental aspect, which takes a lot of discipline and some financial success to overcome, you'll feel overwhelmed at least sometimes because for those files where it's "all hands on deck", you're the only hand. For this reason, it can also be very difficult to take holidays and I still haven't figured that one out yet.

The holiday issue is a real one that can't be understated. It's one of only two extremely serious drawbacks to being a sole practitioner that I've experienced (YMMV). The first is the relative isolation that you have to actively resist (lunches with colleagues, online communities, listservs, other online communities etc.). The second is long-term holidays, of which I have taken none since going solo.

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historicaladvantage
2 hours ago, Mountebank said:

For the first question, I would strongly encourage you to work as an associate first. This is important not just for competence reasons but also to help you make contacts in your local bar and to help you learn the business of law, office procedures, etc.

If you're starting out on your own without an existing practice, then your principal challenge will always be developing your core business (i.e. building your practice). A lot goes into this, including some of the items you mentioned, but basically this is the never-ending work that you have to do as a sole practitioner (unless you've purchased or otherwise inherited a strong, existing practice, although I expect that comes with a host of legacy problems). You don't ever overcome this challenge; you just keep working at it until you quit or die. So, you're going to have to learn to enjoy it.

More concretely, I would say the biggest challenge is building legitimacy/a name for yourself (again, this may not be applicable to someone who has taken over an existing practice). You want to be thought of as someone reliable to turn to, especially among the local bar. If you can position yourself as a the local expert on some niche or even broader area of law, that can really help. Failing that, just being generally pleasant to deal with goes a very long way in generating referrals.

As to the second question, this is very tough to answer. On the one hand, it's extremely flexible because if you choose not to take on a file, you don't have to explain that decision to anyone. On the other hand, when you're on your own, it's sink or swim and you don't ever really seem to stop worrying about billings. I knew a senior sole practitioner who was billing up to $650k annually (which is a lot for a sole when you consider you're keeping most of that). He'd been at it for years and was up to his eyeballs in work. Yet, he could still never say "no" to new work and he always took drop-ins when they stopped by. Now, I'm not anywhere near where he was, but I'm consistently seeing strong growth in my billings and yet I'm no less nervous than I was when I started. It never really ends.

Apart from the mental aspect, which takes a lot of discipline and some financial success to overcome, you'll feel overwhelmed at least sometimes because for those files where it's "all hands on deck", you're the only hand. For this reason, it can also be very difficult to take holidays and I still haven't figured that one out yet.

The holiday issue is a real one that can't be understated. It's one of only two extremely serious drawbacks to being a sole practitioner that I've experienced (YMMV). The first is the relative isolation that you have to actively resist (lunches with colleagues, online communities, listservs, other online communities etc.). The second is long-term holidays, of which I have taken none since going solo.

Wow. Thank you so much for this response. It really captures a lot of things I wasn't thinking about.

Holidays are a big thing for me. I really enjoy and look forward to them. Wouldn't it potentially be possible to take a holiday once you've finished with a particularly big file, and you find yourself in a bit of a lull? I imagine such lulls get fewer and farther between the more popular your practice gets, and you'd have to be open to planning a vacation with little to zero notice. I know many articling students that would be absolutely hammered one week, and then find themselves completely free another, during which time they'd spend a lot more time doing things for themselves. Do you get weeks like that? 

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Mountebank
  • Lawyer
1 hour ago, historicaladvantage said:

Wow. Thank you so much for this response. It really captures a lot of things I wasn't thinking about.

Holidays are a big thing for me. I really enjoy and look forward to them. Wouldn't it potentially be possible to take a holiday once you've finished with a particularly big file, and you find yourself in a bit of a lull? I imagine such lulls get fewer and farther between the more popular your practice gets, and you'd have to be open to planning a vacation with little to zero notice. I know many articling students that would be absolutely hammered one week, and then find themselves completely free another, during which time they'd spend a lot more time doing things for themselves. Do you get weeks like that? 

It's a lifestyle thing too. If you expect to have kids, for instance, then last-minute holidays aren't really feasible. Certainly, the further in advance you plan, the better. But you have to be prepared to suffer a dip in billings and potentially turn away work or disappoint an existing client.

A week isn't crazy - I've had almost a week off. I meant proper holidays longer than that.

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bamalam
  • Lawyer

Any tips for finding contract lawyers? lawclerk.legal seems like a decent platform, but it doesn't appear to have Canadian lawyers.

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Mountebank
  • Lawyer
Posted (edited)
On 6/25/2021 at 6:41 PM, bamalam said:

Any tips for finding contract lawyers? lawclerk.legal seems like a decent platform, but it doesn't appear to have Canadian lawyers.

I don't know if I understand the question. Do you mean finding lawyers on contract for overflow? If so, that's very difficult. If the lawyer is advising clients or has carriage of a matter and they're not part of your firm, then this is an issue for Lawpro unless you've made a straight up referral out of your firm (in which case, you may consider a referral fee agreement if you're referring out good files). I know this because I've tried to clear this arrangement with Lawpro before and they said no sir.

If you're just looking for someone to do some legwork behind the scenes, then you're looking for a clerk anyway and, honestly, I don't know that I would trust a lawyer who was looking for work like that.

Edit: I guess I should add that this doesn't preclude a co-counsel situation, but it has to be clear to clients that co-counsel is a completely separate lawyer/firm. But this is a position of trust and expertise so you'd normally already know the lawyer.

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bamalam
  • Lawyer
5 hours ago, Mountebank said:

I don't know if I understand the question. Do you mean finding lawyers on contract for overflow? If so, that's very difficult. If the lawyer is advising clients or has carriage of a matter and they're not part of your firm, then this is an issue for Lawpro unless you've made a straight up referral out of your firm (in which case, you may consider a referral fee agreement if you're referring out good files). I know this because I've tried to clear this arrangement with Lawpro before and they said no sir.

If you're just looking for someone to do some legwork behind the scenes, then you're looking for a clerk anyway and, honestly, I don't know that I would trust a lawyer who was looking for work like that.

Edit: I guess I should add that this doesn't preclude a co-counsel situation, but it has to be clear to clients that co-counsel is a completely separate lawyer/firm. But this is a position of trust and expertise so you'd normally already know the lawyer.

Yeah, I'd like someone to assist behind the scenes. Stuff that an articling student or junior would do in a corporate/commercial group at a firm. I don't have nearly enough work to hire someone full time.

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Mountebank
  • Lawyer
4 hours ago, bamalam said:

Yeah, I'd like someone to assist behind the scenes. Stuff that an articling student or junior would do in a corporate/commercial group at a firm. I don't have nearly enough work to hire someone full time.

If it's work that a clerk is capable of doing, then there are options out there for remote clerks on a per-file basis. I've done this before for real estate and it's a decent solution if you have some overflow but don't yet want to hire additional staff.

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  • 2 weeks later...
PhoenixWright
  • Lawyer

Which financial institutions do you use for your trust/general accounts a solo? Is a local Credit Union feasible, or would you stick with a Big 5 bank and try to build a relationship with the local branch manager?

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Mountebank
  • Lawyer
21 minutes ago, PhoenixWright said:

Which financial institutions do you use for your trust/general accounts a solo? Is a local Credit Union feasible, or would you stick with a Big 5 bank and try to build a relationship with the local branch manager?

Lawyers generally bank with the Big 5. I've thought about the credit union thing, but ultimately I don't think they're set up for business banking, especially with trust accounts, in the same way that the big banks are.

I bank with TD for my general and trust accounts. Your experience with each bank will depend heavily on the local branches, so I can't really recommend any to look at or avoid. Where I am, it seems like TD and BMO are the best for lawyers and RBC has a reputation for being the worst, but I've heard differing accounts from lawyers elsewhere in the province.

All the Big 5 are pretty well lockstep in terms of fees and plans, so it really just comes down to convenience and service. Personally, I prefer TD because it has the best hours of any of the banks (as in, it's actually open 9am-5pm or later every day. Some banks, like Scotia, close at 4pm or 4:30pm on some days during the workweek, which makes no sense to me).

I've had a good experience with TD overall, except that it's clearly the worst bank for wire transfers as they're subject to delay more than any other bank. On sale files, you have to really keep on top of those and I always advise purchasers' solicitors to deliver the balance due on closing by direct deposit unless they can wire in the morning to ensure receipt in time for closing.

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bamalam
  • Lawyer
3 hours ago, PhoenixWright said:

Which financial institutions do you use for your trust/general accounts a solo? Is a local Credit Union feasible, or would you stick with a Big 5 bank and try to build a relationship with the local branch manager?

I'd encourage you to due some due diligence when making this decision, especially if you're in a smaller centre. I launched without much planning and simply went with the bank that gave me my PSLOC. I have regretted that decision on many occasions, but I haven't had the time/energy to change banks.

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PhoenixWright
  • Lawyer
19 hours ago, bamalam said:

I'd encourage you to due some due diligence when making this decision, especially if you're in a smaller centre. I launched without much planning and simply went with the bank that gave me my PSLOC. I have regretted that decision on many occasions, but I haven't had the time/energy to change banks.

What in particular do you regret about your bank? The hours? Branch Staff? Rates/services offered, etc? 

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bamalam
  • Lawyer
4 hours ago, PhoenixWright said:

What in particular do you regret about your bank? The hours? Branch Staff? Rates/services offered, etc? 

The branch hours and my advisor's lack of knowledge and/or motivation are the main issues.

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  • 1 month later...
MrGambini
  • Lawyer

Does anyone have any experience starting up a small, part-time practice, while working in-house? Besides making sure your private practice work doesn’t conflict with your employer, are there any other tips or tricks you would recommend?

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  • 5 weeks later...
Hitman9172
  • Lawyer

Thanks for doing this @Mountebank. I'm an associate at a large firm practising primarily RE and corporate/commercial law and have been thinking of going solo for the last little bit. I think (hope) I could make more or at least as much as I do now by keeping the overhead low, as that's what seems to kill profits at big firms. I have a couple questions for you if you don't mind answering whenever you get a chance (sorry - there's a lot):

1. In terms of the administrative set-up, was it quite a hassle getting started? I've heard a lot of soles use Clio to streamline things, but getting everything set up to start seems to be a big mental barrier for me - as all the systems at a big firm are ready to go for you.

2. Do you rent an office or are you working virtually or with flex space as needed?

3. For my RE practice, I was hoping to work solo to save on overhead, but I imagine I would need to hire an assistant or a paralegal to help with all the admin stuff like land title searches, obtaining title insurance, etc. Do you think working entirely solo in RE would be feasible?

4. Do you do hourly billing or alternative arrangements (e.g., fixed fees)?

5. What's been your biggest source of referrals? I imagine networking with brokers and accountants is a big one for most people.

6. How has the mental stress been compared to being an associate at a larger firm? I imagine you're always mentally "on" as most entrepreneurs are.

7. How many hours a week or month would you say you work and bill? 

Edited by Hitman9172
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Mountebank
  • Lawyer

@Hitman9172 No need to apologize - I don't know why people always think a lawyer would mind taking time to talk about himself. Unfortunately, to run a solicitor practice in a serious way, there will be some overhead (I'm just a relatively new and little guy, and my expenses are north of $100k annually). Although, bear in mind that you keep everything you collect after expenses (rather than only, say, a third working in a larger firm). Also, it's worth remembering that, in solo practice, you get all the benefit of any clerk or assistant time you bill out, whereas in larger firms you likely don't.

1. It's a lot of work, but all doable and some a little exciting if you have a strong desire to run your own shop and especially if you do your research (which it sounds like you're doing). It helps that you have firm experience so you'll at least have some idea of the kinds of things you'll need. In terms of software, I'd strongly suggest Cosmolex over Clio for a sole practitioner. I've tried both and vastly prefer Cosmolex (I made the switch from Clio about 7 or 8 months into sole practice). The problem with Clio is that it doesn't help you at all on the accounting side, whereas Cosmolex does both business and LSO-compliant trust accounting (with a bank feed, etc.). They're both cloud-based. Clio's UI is a bit more modern, but the program has limited functionality for the price. Get Cosmolex. I also recommend going completely cloud-based from the start - I use Microsoft 365, Adobe Pro, and some enterprise security through Microsoft for basically all my needs except for practice management and law-related programs (which are also all now web-based). Get a tech guy who can set you up with some good machines (computer(s), printer/scanner/fax, shredder) and consider leasing/financing instead of buying.

2. Although my practice is cloud-based and I don't maintain a local server, I do have a traditional office space. It's my second-largest expense after payroll. I've toyed with the idea of going virtual, either part or full-time, but I don't think it would work for me and my practice. Clients still come to the office for appointments and they still drop off documents and payments, etc. Plus, I prefer working at the office rather than home and I wouldn't like to have to travel to another space just for meetings. I also think it adds legitimacy and I know there's one brokerage I have a relationship with that I wouldn't have been able to establish if I didn't have a decent office space to meet them at. That said, there are some lawyers who are completely virtual. These lawyers typically also have no staff so their practices are very lean. If you're a solicitor, you'll likely need some staff at some point relatively early on even so this may not work for you. A cost-sharing arrangement with an existing law practice would be something to look at, though, if there are any suitable ones available in your area.

3. If you're mostly doing residential work, then there are ways to work solo but there's a cap on how much volume you can do (remember that you'll also be in charge of the trust account and will have a lot of bookkeeping obligations related to these transactions). Real estate isn't my main practice, but I still can't afford to do all the work myself (and wouldn't want to anyway). My set-up is: for sales, my assistant staffs the file (prepares closing docs, schedules appointments, does bank runs, etc.); for purchases and refinances, my assistant does the administrative stuff, but I hire an outside conveyancer to do the title searches/prepare closing docs/request funds/order title insurance/report to lender, etc. The outside conveyancer charges me on a per-file basis. I disburse back to the client the cost of the search expenses, but I swallow the conveyancer's fees as a cost of doing business. I generally do all the registrations, although I can pay the conveyancer to do this for me (and I have done once or twice on very busy closing days).

4. Mixed. My billing practices are typical of a solicitor's practice. Fixed fee for normal transactions, basic Wills, and probate applications. Hourly for advice administering Estates, some refinances, severances and related work, and basically any other kind of file. I don't do free initial consultations.

5. I've had no luck with accountants, who in my area are very loyal to the bigger firms. Also, because most of my time as a sole has been during Covid (I went out on my own in Q4 2019), opportunities for networking with non-lawyers has been more limited than it used to be. I still get a decent amount of cold calls/messages through my website, but my largest referral source is, by far, other lawyers. I am active online and have a decent network so this is where a decent amount of the work comes from. As time goes on, I am also getting some repeat clients and some referrals from existing clients (which is, of course, ultimately the goal; i.e. to have a practice completely sustained by itself).

6. Hmm. I don't know. There's a very serious freedom that comes with being on your own and I don't really have to answer to anyone (even the clients, most of the time), which relieves some pressure. I don't have any real billable hour targets and there are no firm politics. At the same time, like any entrepreneur, you're basically always worried about whether you're going to make enough next month and I don't think this ever really goes away. The two biggest drawbacks are the difficulty faced in taking long holidays, which I'm still trying to figure out, and the very serious potential for isolation - you really need to make a concerted effort to reach out to your colleagues for some social interaction and also for guidance when facing more vexing files.

7. It's inconsistent and also very hard to measure since A) a lot, if not most, of what I do is business-related and so I don't track those hours; and B) I don't docket my time on all my law-related work (such as RE and Wills), so even that's hard to measure with certainty. However, one thing I know for sure is that I spend way less time doing legal work than I used to. My schedule changes depending on the time of year (and the school schedule, since I drop my eldest off at school in the mornings), but right now I'm working about 9:30am-6:30pm during the week and I'd be very surprised if I spent more than half that time on actual billable work. I don't work evenings or weekends, except very rarely (and except for maybe an hour of business-related work when I have a few minutes on Saturday morning or something, but that's barely even work), so it's a fairly comfortable schedule that I keep. Before this school year, I was keeping earlier days (which I preferred), so it was more like 8:15am-5:15pm. If I were more organized, I could probably cut down on my day a bit by doing some work from home in the mornings, but I tend to just relax with my coffee/read the news, etc. in the mornings.

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