Five Myths About Starting Your Own Law Practice: An Appellate Attorney’s Perspective

Paul Katz

s-sf-photoStarting your own practice isn’t for everybody. Yet I’ve found that many of the supposed obstacles aren’t as scary as they initially seemed, such as:

1. It takes a lot of money to start a law practice.

A law practice’s product isn’t a tangible good or even a cost-intensive service. Instead, as attorneys, clients pay us primarily for our minds—a free and (relatively) limitless resource.

When I started my appellate practice, my initial expenses were rather minimal: a multi-purpose printer, malpractice insurance, and Westlaw. I started in a home office until I could justify office space.

2. You already need to have a book of business.

For many law firm associates, attracting clients can seem daunting. But before starting my practice, I didn’t realize that my network of friends and colleagues provided a good jumping off point for reaching clients.

And networking events, such as the those hosted by BASF’s Solo and Small Firm Section, have been a great way to expand my network.

3. The administrative aspect is overwhelming.

A law practice’s administrative structure can start small and grow over time. And because it’s your practice, you can organize your processes to conform to your style.

I used my first few clients as administrative learning experiences to understand how best to handle electronic and paper foldering.

4. Interesting legal issues only happen in big cases.

There is little (if any) relationship between the size of a case and interest-level of the issues it presents. As a solo appellate attorney, I’ve prepared briefs involving a range of thorny legal issues, from anti-SLAPP standards to juror bias.

5. Working as a solo practitioner is lonely.

I was warned that becoming a solo appellate attorney would engender a “monastic” lifestyle. But I often co-counsel with attorneys at other law practices. And BASF has plenty of CLE and networking events that serve my gregarious nature.

About the author:

Paul-J-KatzPaul Katz has his own solo practice, Law Office of Paul J. Katz, that handles both civil and criminal appeals. Email him at paul@pjkatzlaw.com or visit www.pjkatzlaw.com.