How Much Should You Work? (New Solo Week – Day Four)

All week I’ve been talking to lawyers new to starting a family law practice. I’ve been getting quite a few comments here on the site and even more feedback via phone calls and emails. Hopefully, you’re getting some value from these posts. I’ve been told, repeatedly, that these New Solo articles are applicable to practitioners with experience and aren’t strictly applicable to newbies. Lets get going with Day 4…

How much should you work? That depends on your goals. Truth be told, I’m not really talking to family law hobbyists or those looking for a lifestyle business. I’m talking to attorneys that need to generate an income to support themselves and their family. If you’re a “Gentleman Family Law Practitioner” I’m sorry, but we probably won’t relate. I practice family law in order to trade a valuable service for a reasonable fee and that’s the kind of business I understand.

It really is important for you to decide what your goals are before you can know how much time you’re going to have to spend working. If your goals are to build a thriving business then I have an answer for you. If , however, you have other goals then you’re on your own, sorry.

To build a solid practice that will generate a good income your going to have to work hard. Your likely going to work more than you did in law school. Your going to spend many, many hours at your desk and many more hours out in the community engaged in business development activities. Your going to work early in the morning, late in the evenings and on many weekends. You’re going to have a hard time finding time for yourself or your family and it’s going very tough.

My hazy memory of the first few years of my practice involved getting to work at 6 in the morning and staying until 8 in the evening most days. If I was getting ready for a trial, I often left the office after midnight. I remember driving a client home one night at 2 in morning after working on preparing her property division trial.

My practice grew quickly. I took $700 home that first year and invested most of my funds in marketing. I gained lots of sweat equity by building systems, meeting referral sources, speaking in public forums and delivering excellent service. I suppose I could have backed off some and grown more slowly, but I knew I needed to make more than $700 in the second year. I had just married my wife, she was in graduate school and $54 a month wasn’t going to meet our needs even in 1987.

How much will you have to work? Probably more than I did if you’ve got the kind of goals I had. It’s more competitive now than it was then and clients are having a touch time paying fees. It’s very tough out there, you already know what I mean.

What if you don’t want to invest all those hours? Well, maybe family law isn’t for you. Most of you will, however, invest the time. I’ve developed a feel for the people visiting this site and you’re a driven group. You’re committed to your own success. The folks that aren’t willing to work also aren’t willing to read these articles. They aren’t here. They aren’t like you. They’re sleeping now, or playing Farmville or watching TV. You are different.

Now, get back to work.

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