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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Monday, Aug. 6, 201811:00 AM EST

Young Lawyers: The secret to success in a small firm

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Attending happy hours sponsored by the JBA Young Lawyers Section can be an asset when building a law firm.

By Shannon Schott    Solo and Small Business committee chair

I read the other day that the scion of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, Kylie Jenner, is on the verge of becoming America’s youngest self-made billionaire.

While I find this impressive, what is more impressive is that Jenner, 20, turned $250,000 into $1 billion in less than three years. That’s a 4,000 percent return on investment.

Simply stated, her recipe for success is low overhead (she has only seven employees and outsources everything), a love for the product and technology. We can all take a lesson from Jenner.

When we first contemplated the launch of my small firm in 2014, my law partner and I read a reputable guide to starting a law firm. There was an entire chapter on furnishing a law office.

We put the book down because we wanted to find clients and practice law. We didn’t want to take out a huge loan to make our workspace rival the lawyers lounge at the courthouse.  

Being the millennial that I am, I broke down exactly what we needed to practice law. My list was simple: A Florida Bar license, a bank account, a computer, a place to meet with clients and a way for people to find and contact us.

We didn’t need a loan to get started, and we found free or nominally priced services (online, of course) to acquire everything else. We bought our domain and built our website for $20. We rented a furnished shared workspace. Our first client called, and we were on our way.

Eventually, to compete with our peers, we were lured into paying for services like web design, marketing and advertising that were neither necessary nor worth the price.

We practiced new areas of law that we did not have a passion for and our business growth reached a plateau.

We took a hard look at what our business model had become, waited for our contracts to end and realized that we needed to revert to free marketing and advertising, like social media, and stop practicing areas of law that, while lucrative, we did not love. 

Nearly four years later, we did end up furnishing a law office and we still do what we love. We do not pay for online marketing and advertising, but rather focus on organically building a free presence online and invest instead in continuing legal education.

And while having a love for the work and taking advantage of technology is imperative in the modern practice of law, even Jenner will tell you that you still need to have friends’ IRLs. 

Social events are the third element of the success trifecta.

Fostering relationships with staff, colleagues, clients and other business owners face-to-face leads to personal and professional growth. We accept every offer for lunch and accept invitations to attend every event, particularly Jacksonville Bar Association Young Lawyers Section happy hours, where we have met so many attorneys who lift up our practice. 

Not every lawyer gets to share the joy of business ownership, but for those who do or plan to, the Solo and Small Firm Committee is here to support your journey and help your business grow.

Whether you’ve been splurging for years or scrutinizing every expense, we can connect you with services and companies who may help you lower your overhead and maximize productivity. Finally, we are going to connect with each other and learn so that we can all enjoy a 4,000 percent return on investment like Kylie Jenner.

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