JEL23652-Blackford, Sheila P3 (2)   by Sheila Blackford   ©2010   I see more lawyers these days who are launching their solo practice. Some line up office-sharing arrangements while others decide to go slow by initially working from home. An article I wrote for the Oregon Bar Bulletin, “Home Alone: Where to Hang Your Shingle” may give some ideas for lawyers thinking about this option.

An over-riding concern of lawyers starting up their solo practice is making sure that they don’t spend too much money all at once. For some, starting up on the proverbial shoestring seems to be the best they can do given the circumstances. Almost two years later, I still find my article “Law Office Start-Up: Law Office on a Shoestring” can help some lawyers think through their early budget. No matter how small, a budget is essential.

Starting up a law practice as a solo is starting up your professional life. Do it with at much thoughtful investigation as you can. Make a business plan and put it in writing. I remember the following adage: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” being drilled into my head early in the business world. It made me a planner! Sucessful ventures are usually accompanied by well-thought-out plans.

Not all of us are entrepreneurial. Not all successful solo lawyers are either. It is natural to feel nervous and even fearful starting up a business, especially a law practice. Some starting up now will be successful and some will hang it up before the year is up. The important thing is not to become paralyzed by fear wondering which will be your destiny. It’s not knowable today. Today, the task before is to take the first step. Summoning courage that carried you to this point, enables you to move forward or as Goethe urged, “to begin it.”

“Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days…What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has Magic, Power, and Genius in it.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Posted by SBlackford

Sheila Blackford is an Oregon attorney who has been a practice management attorney for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund since 2005. She loves writing, riding her horse, and taking long walks with her husband and their dog.


  1. Before I launched my own solo practice six months after becoming an admitted attorney, I read article after article stating that new attorneys were ill-prepared to competently represent clients, and therefore should not start a solo law practice after law school. This idea that young attorneys are incapable of competent representation is absurd.

    We spent a great deal of time and money education ourselves to become competent, so why should anyone that spends thousands of education dollars and thousands of education hours pursuing the goal of becoming an attorney not take their career in the direction they truly desire?


    1. I agree that you should take your career in the direction one truly desires. Law school and preparing to sit for your bar exams represent great expenditures of time and money. Law school trains legal analysis skills and some are fortunate to take clinics and classes that help with law practice. Some schools are including law practice management courses. I was sworn in and was open for business as a solo the next day. Hard work, but there are resources available to support new lawyers and new solos. Remember everything you did that led you to this moment and congratulate yourself! Forget nay-sayers. One who is dedicated to becoming a professional usually succeeds. Important to not become discouraged and turn away before reaching your goal. Invite a newer lawyer to lunch or coffee. Good luck!


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