June 6, 2008

Wedding Invitations Are in the Mail!

After a flurry of negotiating wedding registry information, designing, selecting paper, printing, slicing, tying bows, agonizing over guest lists, addressing envelopes, stuffing envelopes, and applying stamps, the invitations are finally in the mail!!

It gives me goose bumps.

The Law

An ABA publication reports the number of lawyers is high, the pay is low, and the industry is transforming itself.* In 2004 solo practitioners averaged $46,000 per year in the United States and that situation has not improved. The demand for fresh law school graduates is ever increasing because big law firms continue to eagerly vacuum up those fresh young faces, put them to work, skim off the profits, and then fire them when they fail to "make partner" a few years later.

The ABA's analysis of census figures indicates (to them) that "lawyers" and "attorneys" stop designating themselves as such long before their working lives would normally have been over. They are either retiring or finding other work.

I know a solo practitioner who cleared six figures in 2006. He won't come close to that in 2007 because he spent the year partnered with another attorney who spent as much on her lavish office as she brought into the firm in income. He freed himself of that bad situation but now he hates his practice. He can't quit because he's supporting a wife and three young children at home.

I've had my law license for a year as of May 15th. No one hired me in that year. I went on several very nice interviews but no job offers appeared. In between interviews I've been working as a contract attorney for a small firm that gives me various projects in dribs and drabs. It's fun and it's great experience but it's neither enough work nor enough money. It would have been enough if I hadn't had to split my fee with my law firm.

Last week, late at night, eyes wide open, I was staring at the darkened ceiling and waiting for sleep. I got up, switched on my computer, and in the dim light cast by my computer screen I went to the Secretary of State's website and registered my LLC. It took five minutes.

I'm striking out on my own. I'm going against the advice of Professors who told me the law has become far too complicated to try to go it alone. They may be right about telecommunications and tax law but I'm pretty sure I can figure out a simple will, a DUI, or a non-competition agreement. And if I can't, I'll just go begging to the Bar Association for help.

If I make $46,000 this year it will be about three times what I've made in any year since I quit my job to go to law school (a decision I've had to decide not to regret).

Yes friends, I started my first law firm while wearing my pajamas. I hope it's an auspicious omen. Wish me luck, please. I can't wait to start helping people, and getting paid. :)

* - Hidden Transformation of the Legal Industry, by Richard Sander, Vol. 12, #9, The Young Lawyer, June 2008, publ. American Bar Association Young Lawyer's Division.