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Growing pains

generation-jd-sheri-hoidra“You’re only going to get bigger.”

These were the wise words of my legal assistant, who has been doing auto accident work for more than twenty years. She has seen the evolution of a solo practice before and can tell that I’m at that point, an exciting but uncomfortable time when the filing cabinets are becoming too full and it’s taking a little longer to return phone calls.

So why don’t I feel ready to expand?

The reality is that although I have a steady stream of clients, the solo practitioner in me knows that revenue is unpredictable. Every time I think about leasing that extra office space, or hiring a new associate, I find myself reverting back to the mindset I had back when I started my practice four years ago. My daily struggle back then was to make sure I had enough clients to survive and to keep overhead costs low. At the beginning of each month I would worry that the well would run dry.

But here I am, four years later, and that day never came. The nature of this business has demonstrated to me that when you do good work, the clients will come. So my new goal is to push past the new-solo mindset and trust that I will be able to finance my firm’s growth.

A perfect example of how I plan to overcome the status quo is by advertising. For the longest time, I avoided paid advertising. Not only is the cost high, but I have always had this fear that my caseload would become overwhelming and my already limited time with family would be eviscerated. To combat this fear moving forward, I’ve decided that as soon as my office space expansion is finalized, I’m going to bring on an associate. Maybe not in a full-time capacity to start, but as advertising gets underway and revenue increases, have him or her come in more and more. I know that my mental health will thank me for it. Expansion equals delegation, and delegation equals more free time.

So, to my fellow young solo attorneys: know that you are not alone. If you are in your third or fourth year of practice, it is likely you are feeling the same pressure as I am to take the next step. Remember that comfort is the death of progress. So let’s commit to grow each day, just enough to make ourselves slightly uncomfortable.

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