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Take charge of your personal and professional growth as a solo attorney

greenhouse as a metaphor for personal and professional growth for solo attorneys

So, you’ve finally taken the plunge and started your own firm. Congratulations!

Of course, your first priority is growing your business. That’s natural.

But being a solo attorney also gives you a unique opportunity to engage in personal growth, too.

In this article, you’ll learn how your personal and professional efforts can dovetail to make you the best attorney – and person – you can possibly be.

Many of the tips below are obvious in one arena or the other — either personal or professional — yet people rarely apply them to both. We invite you to apply these tips to all aspects of your life. Then sit back and see just how high you can fly.

Tip #1: Grow your network

Professional networking

It goes without saying that you’re going to want to grow your network as a solo practitioner.

While some clients may follow you from your old firm, those transitions can be tricky and, let’s be honest, your one-person shop may not be equipped to service all the needs of larger clients.

Regardless, you’re going to need to get in the habit of networking.

According to the Lawyer’s Edge, you can do this by, among other things:

  • Reaching out to people you already know
  • Looking for excuses to get together with potential clients
  • Setting networking goals
  • Sticking to a networking schedule

Personal networking

One of the hardest things about starting a solo practice is remembering to take time for yourself away from your new law firm.

Nonetheless, time away from work is critical to your mental and physical health.

That said, time off isn’t quite as beneficial if you’re only spending more time with yourself — just like you already do in your solo practice. That’s why having a network of friends to do things with during your time off is equally important.

Yes, this goes for the introverts, too. As much as you need your alone time and must schedule that space, you still need healthy connections in your life. Build a network of people with whom you share interests, and not just around work. Consider exploring some new hobbies that can expand your personal network.

Many people already have a core group of friends when they start their own law firm. We’re not suggesting that you go find new or better friends.

But did you know that neglecting those friendships can actually be harmful to your health?

So, as you grow your new business, remember to take the time to let your friends celebrate with you.

Tip #2: Build your brand

Professional branding

Building a brand is critical to any new business.

Ultimately, your brand as a solo practitioner consists of two things: your reputation and your promise to clients.

It’s how people (judges, opposing attorneys, clients) view you in the marketplace and what they learn to expect from you. Do you want to be known as a high-quality, ethically-minded strategist or as a cheap solution for people who need quick legal help?

Only you can answer that question, but being consistent with your brand will certainly help you grow your business.

Having a strong and consistent brand will also help people in your network refer the right types of clients and cases to you.

Personal branding

Many people forget, however, that personal branding is also important.

Your personal brand is how people (friends, potential mates, your family) view you in the world.

Possibly the most important thing about building your personal brand is liking yourself. If you truly like who you are, you will be able to connect with people authentically and consistently.

If you don’t … well, then, it’s probably time to do some work around that (see Tip #3).

Tip #3: Know your worth

Professional worth

When you start your own solo practice, it’s tempting to simply charge the same hourly rate for your services that your old firm did.

That’s certainly an idea and if you can get your clients to pay that, good for you.

Remember, however, that your new firm may not offer the same brand value, service level, and accouterments that your old firm did — not yet, at least.

The truth is, as a solo attorney, you’re going to have the freedom to offer clients all sorts of alternative pricing models that will benefit you and them.

The best thing you can do for yourself when you’re starting a firm is do your research on solo practitioner pricing.

Overpricing and underpricing services are both common mistakes for new solo attorneys. By doing the appropriate research up front, you’ll be able to set pricing that is highly competitive in your market.

Personal worth

Personal worth is more commonly referred to as “self-worth” or “self-esteem” and it is every bit as essential to your success as the dollars your solo practice brings through the door.

Interestingly, attorneys are rarely accused of lacking self-esteem. In truth, however, many attorneys lack confidence and suffer from imposter syndrome, and both of those things can impact their practices negatively.

When’s the last time you did a self-worth self-assessment?

Never?

Well, maybe it’s time to take stock in how you truly feel about yourself and, if needed, start working on improving your feelings about you.

At the end of the day, your new solo practice IS you. Everything you do to improve your practice ultimately improves you, and vice versa.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds and forget about self-improvement when you’re growing a new business. We hope you’re able to incorporate these tips to efficiently and effectively improve your whole life.

Author

  • Jennifer Anderson practiced business litigation in California from 1999 to 2016. When she’s not writing from her floating cabin on the Columbia River, she can be found hiking or kayaking around the Pacific Northwest.