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Solo Solicitor AMA


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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
  • Lawyer
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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