You may have heard that last week I left DLA Piper to start my own law firm. I am humbled and appreciative of all the support that I have received from many of you. Thank you.
As an antitrust attorney, I analyze markets every day. Even when I’m not working, I do it. I can’t help myself. When I go to the grocery store and stare at a shelf of products, my three-and-a-half-year-old son—who is my grocery-shopping buddy—might think I am carefully determining the best product to buy. (Well, he actually is probably wondering when we are going to come across more food items with cartoons on them).
Instead, I find myself looking at the difference in prices and the placement of companies’ products on the shelf, and thinking about, for example, whether loyalty discounts or category management played a role.
The same compulsion to analyze markets is now occurring in my own market—the market for legal services—now that I am participating in it as an owner rather than an employee. Thus, I thought it would be fun to periodically blog about my experiences moving from biglaw to my own law firm.
So, in addition to antitrust, appellate, and even the occasional movie review, I will periodically blog about law firms, legal practice, and my own journey. My antitrust background might provide a slightly different perspective than the average attorney that starts their own practice, as I am hyper-conscious of market and competition issues.
So here are a few initial observations from my first week.
- There are many attorneys at biglaw that recently left to start their own practice, are about to leave, that plan to leave, and that really want to leave. It is a trend that will accelerate over the next few years. The reason is simple: there is high demand for top-quality legal services at reasonable rates. And the size of huge firms is becoming more of a disadvantage than an advantage.
- Starting your own law firm doesn’t mean you are alone. While one model is a single entity full of attorneys that share everything, and another model is a single attorney that works entirely alone, there is a lot of room between those extremes to serve clients. By that I mean that small firms can and do create affiliations and relationships that stop short of a partnership, but improve their ability to serve clients. I am working on some exciting opportunities along those lines myself. I believe that the future of top-quality legal practice will move in this direction and away from the big-firm model that has dominated the top-end legal market for years.
- I really enjoy it. This doesn’t surprise me, but I am thrilled that I like it as much as I thought I would. I have actual client work right now, and it is incredibly meaningful. I am especially appreciative of these first clients that are helping me begin my own practice. I am not sure I can articulate this well, but it feels entirely different working on client matters for my own firm than it did for biglaw. I am a legal nerd, so I actually did enjoy working on my cases for biglaw. But it is different and better now. I am as professionally happy as I have ever been.
- There is a lot of administrative work, but I don’t mind it so much. I look at it as running a business, which it is, and that is fun. After spending so many years analyzing markets, it is great to actually participate in one as an owner.
- There are a number of third-party providers that can help you start your own law firm and allow you to outsource time-consuming aspects of your business. One is Nexfirm. I am grateful for all of their help and their services. I am not sure that my launch could have run nearly as smoothly without them. And they are still with me. For all of you that are thinking about starting your own firm—and I know that there are many of you—a call to Nexfirm is a good place to start.
One final note: Next week is the ABA Antitrust Spring Meeting. I hope to see you there.