BY JAY KAMLET, JORDAN DEIFIK AND J. RYANN PEYTON
attorneys often begin their legal careers in law
in mentorship programs is one way to smooth the road ahead
and build fruitful professional relationships along the
Becoming a lawyer is a significant accomplishment, as is owning a business. Doing both simultaneously is on another level of difficulty. When you open your own firm, you lose the safety net of working in Big Law or being employed in someone else's firm. The financial challenges of owning a business come down squarely on your shoulders.
This can be not only scary, but also isolating. Long after you have finished your casework for the day, you could be up looking at tax bills, balancing your payroll, and trying to figure out how much you need to make to get through the next quarter. The long hours and isolation can drain a new solo practitioner's motivation quickly. Some will consider giving up.
business owner will tell you, running your own business is
messy. Some days you will work 18 hours without remembering
to eat. Some weeks you will wonder why you even took this
route. And some months you will not be sure whether you can
pull ahead financially. An effective mentor can help you
overcome these challenges. Research indicates that while only
half of all small businesses survive five or more years,70%
of small business owners who are mentored stay in business
for five years or more.
Flattening the Learning Curve
Law school teaches you how to be a lawyer, but not necessarily how to be a business owner—and it provides even less insight about how to wear both hats simultaneously. In the early stages of creating and launching a small law firm, owners can find the support they need in mentors.
Laying the proper groundwork ensures easier operations down the road, but without previous business ownership experience, it is unlikely that a new firm owner will know what this groundwork entails. A mentor who provides in-depth business advice and insight can flatten the learning curve and help you avoid common errors.
When questions arise regarding the day-to-day management of your law firm, a mentor is essential. Mistakes are part of the learning process, but with a mentor, you can make fewer mistakes while still benefiting from those learning opportunities. This reduces the amount of money and time lost to simple errors.
As a new business owner, you will experience problems that demand fast solutions. Brainstorming works, but for best results, you need a sounding board. Your mentor can work with you through these brainstorming sessions, providing feedback for your proposed ideas and helping you fine-tune those that best fit your needs. This type of relationship is also valuable when you are trying to create relationships with vendors and service providers. A local mentor...