Mr. Ade, who himself worked for a law firm for 12 years before starting his own law firm, talks about why this “apprenticeship” period is absolute crucial, no – necessary, before any lawyer should even think of starting their own law firm.
Mr. Ade writes:
Starting a law practice is one of the worst decisions an inexperienced lawyer can make. Becoming a good lawyer requires years of post-law school training and real-world experience.
Many new lawyers do hang up shingles, and while I admire their courage (although it’s more likely desperation) I wish they would stop and think about it. By launching into the profession without getting proper training from successful, experienced lawyers, they are doing their clients a disservice and the entire legal profession takes a hit on credibility.
Mr. Ade goes on to write:
I have met other lawyers who choose to go it alone and they [are] incompetent in the practice of law. I mean no disrespect; they are simply inexperienced. These fresh-out-of-law school shingle-hangers can be a black mark on the legal profession. I cringe when I hear that people fresh out of law school have started their own practices. I didn’t hang my own shingle until after I had a good dozen years of experience and, more importantly, extensive training and mentoring. Even with all that experience, it was still a challenge to open and operate my own law practice.
This article bothers me so much because I see a lot of great young lawyers coming out of law school that really want to do the right thing with their law practice. They want to help people. They want to make life better for their clients. You don’t need 12 years of experience at a firm to learn that.
There is a great book that addresses the flaws in Mr. Ade argument in a fantastic fashion – Winning Through Intimidation, by Robert Ringer. Here are a couple takeaways from that book that are relevant here.
According to Mr. Ringer, the “leapfrog theory” says that:
A person has no legal or moral obligation or, for that matter, logical reason to “work his way up through the ranks” … The quickest way to the top is not by fighting your way through the pack; the quickest way is to leapfrog over the pack and simply … proclaim that you’re above it. However, you must be prepared to be above it, or the realities of the business world will knock you right back into the pack.
When you start a solo practice straight out of law school, you need to be prepared to silence the critics. You can be a successful lawyer and run a successful law practice, but you need to start with the end in mind and know how you are going to get there.
Here’s the second little nugget from Mr. Ringer’s book, and it’s call the “three type theory”.
Three Type Theory
Mr. Ringer proclaims, and I think accurately, that there are three types of people in the business world.
Type 1 – This person lets you know that he is going to try and get all of your chips, then he goes out and tries to do that.
Type 2 – This person assures you that he is not interested in getting your chips. But then he tries to get them anyway.
Type 3 – This person assures you that he honestly does not want to take your chips, and he or she may actually mean it. However, at the end of the day, this person is still going to try and take your chips.
What’s the lesson from this? In the world of business, no one ever does anything for anyone without expecting something in return. This is especially true when we are talking about lawyers.
To be continued next… Saturday. We welcome your opinion on this
Unini Kate Chioma