Leaving the comforts of a firm, the luxury of having a large support staff, colleagues, and never having to worry about overhead, case expenses, payroll, etc. is not easy. But it is rewarding. I wrote about going solo recently and now I’d like to share stories of other young lawyers who decided to hang their own shingle. If you’d like to share yours, let me know.
First up is a fellow personal injury lawyer and UB Law alumn, Nick Parr.
On a Wednesday, my wife Katy and I found out we were pregnant with twins. Two days later, during a drive to the beach, I told my wife I was leaving the firm I was with for five years and starting my own practice.
The decision to go out on my own was scary but it felt right. I worked as an associate at personal injury law firms since I was sworn in in 2010. For my first two years, I was an associate at a personal injury law firm in Howard County. I cut my teeth in district courts in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. (At that point, anticipating traffic and knowing where to park were just as important as the rules of evidence.) For the next five years, I was an associate at a Baltimore personal injury firm. It was there that I learned how to run a firm and how to get clients.
There came a point, however, where I thought I could run things better if I was given the opportunity. That did not happen. I had two options. One option was to go to another firm, but in my experience that was like jumping out of the frying pan and in to the fire. The other option was to start my own firm, The Law Offices of Nicholas A. Parr.
So, from the moment I told my wife my plans, I had a six-month window to lay the foundation for a successful practice before my son and daughter arrived. I had to move quick!
When you go out on your own, it does not hurt to have a little luck on your side. On the same day I decided to start my own practice, a friend from law school asked me to meet him for happy hour. Brandon Mead told me his firm, Mead Law P.A. in Baltimore, had an office open. He and his mother, Margaret, offered me the opportunity to share office space, use their firm’s equipment and handle personal injury matters for their clients. A corner office on the 24th floor of One N. Charles St. was a far better alternative to working from home or setting up from scratch. Not only was the office great, but the opportunity to work alongside the Meads was like floating in an open ocean and suddenly being thrown a life raft.
I solved a huge problem right out of the gate by finding space but there were plenty more items to check off my list. I didn’t have to worry about health insurance; my wife had that covered. I made a list of immediate necessities and six-month goals. Immediate necessities included malpractice insurance, bank accounts, fee agreements, medical authorizations, letterhead, business cards, a website and logo and branding. Six-month goals included a certain number of clients and a paralegal. Luckily enough for me, I had about a dozen decent cases to take with me from my prior firm. Those cases and some criminal defense work kept me afloat for the first couple months.
Over the past seven years, I would sometimes ask myself, “Why did I go to law school?” Now that I opened my own practice, I finally have a good answer. Going solo was a risky move, but the biggest risk would have been not taking one.
Six months later, though, I realize I forgot one thing: Does anybody know a good nanny?