Wow... I'm tired. Doc Review is killing me.
But I have to get this off my chest.
I know that it is the impossible, or nearly impossible, dream to become a solo. But I can't help but think that my chances of being a solo have been cut off at the knees. As many of my readers know, I have been practicing for a while. I started at shit law and worked my way up. As you all should know, a person who only worked in Big Law stands little chance of getting a client for a firm until he's a partner. But I had a chance to drum up clients for a long time. And in the beginning I did. For every real estate closing I did, I gained a child custody hearing. For every traffic ticket I defended, I gained a partnership dissolution case. I had clients that wanted me to handle all of their work. They had my cell phone number and I fully intended on carrying these people with me until I could handle the cases on my own and get the money in full, rather than a salary. When I left the firm, my boss made me sign an agreement that I wouldn't take the clients with me, or I wouldn't get my last two weeks of pay.
Once I left shit law, I went to a firm that was more polished. And I still had clients calling my cell phone and asking me to represent them in various capacities. Did my new law firm appreciate that? NO.
I went to the partner in my polished mid-size firm and told him that I had a client that wanted me to handle a matter and he forbade me from taking his case. He said his liability insurance wouldn't cover a case of a different variety than the practice typically handled and he wasn't interested in the business. So, I had to hand off these clients to various friends and my former firm. I dropped the clients one by one.
And while at that firm, I gained even more clients. We would represent them in one capacity and they would ask that I handle another type of case that they anticipated coming down the pipeline. When I approached the partner with OUR clients and a different case, he once again declined the business.
I'm sure you all have heard that attorneys are not good businessmen, and this was a prime example of that. He had concerns about not handling the case as well as someone who specialized in that area of the law would tarnish our "good name." He also expressed concern with trampling on the feet of other attorneys that typically represented these businesses because they were "friends." There are no friends in business.
Then, at a big firm, there was no chance that my clients and their five figure defense costs would interest my firm. In fact, I was forced to sign a document saying I wouldn't represent someone outside of the firm or I would jeopardize my job. I never did. For the few clients that still called my cell with emergencies, I referred them away....
Now, as a doc review attorney, on every project that I take--I am forced to sign a document saying I will not represent anyone else while on the project.
So, by now I would have had a nice book of business, but I don't. It's as if being a solo is not difficult enough. All of the firms you work for figure out a way to either take you off their cases, so there is no danger of the client following you. And all subsequent firms don't necessarily want the business. You're forced to hang a shingle with no clients to speak of. You have all the experience you need, but no clients. There's not much that separates you from a solo straight out of law school.
At some point, you get to an age where you will not get hired without a book of business. I worked with a gentleman that was in-house counsel to a large company until it was bought and he was let go. He worked there for 25 years. His only client was that company. At 60 years old, looking for a job, he was told that someone of his experience could not be hired unless he came with a substantial book of business. Obviously, this was impossible. That is the ultimate in age discrimination. And, in most people's opinion, being in-house counsel was arriving.... Isn't that the apex of one's legal career?
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