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    The Panel Discussion At Santa Clara Law

    Yesterday, I had the honor of being one of the 4 attorneys participating in a panel discussion hosted by Santa Clara's Law and Business Club. We spoke in front of about 40 students.

    The panel was very diverse: William Russell, a family law attorney who works as a freelancer to other family law attorneys, joining them as co-counsel in litigation. A Santa Clara Law graduate who runs her own estate planning and family law firm; a 2009 graduate with a brand new temporary CFO/accounting/law practice business, and myself. 

    One of the first interesting things we found out that Mr. Russell works as a freelance attorney, but hadn't realized that was the case. He had spent many years in various firms, practicing family law. And then he decided that he's tired of dealing with the family law clients, and wants to deal only with the courts - and began working as co-counsel to other family lawyers who didn't want to tlitigate anything. So, Mr. Russell took over their litigation.

    The four of us had an interesting conversation - and as usual, answered lots of great questions from the audience. At first, the moderators tried to direct all the freelance questions to me specifically. However, after a short while, all the panelists came to an agreement that a freelance practice is truly a better option for a recent graduate.

    A true solo practice is certainly rewarding - but it's also incredibly difficult to build, maintain, and grow. A new attorney without the necessary and wide-ranging skills will not notice any of the rewards of a solo practice as she'll be too busy worrying about not going under, or committing malpractice. A freelance practice, however, is a great way to acquire all those skills, with a much lesser amount of responsibility than as a solo. 


    Catching Up... 

    Well, I've been busy. The estate planning practice is seasonal – spring and fall are very filled with clients. (Interesting how nobody wants to think about dying in the summer… But fall and spring are the seasons for housekeeping-type activities). So, lots of billable work. At the same time, I’ve been doing lots of seminars: at Boalt, at Hastings, at Santa Clara, at UC Davis.

    The main thing I’m learning by giving the seminars is this: the material in the book will always be in the book, and the handout usually is comprehensive enough to be a stand-alone document. But the conversation with each particular group is what’s unique, an irreplaceable opportunity that should not be passed up. It’s what keeps me looking forward to my next seminar. 


    My Independence Track Process

    A little over a week ago, I presented my Independence Track seminar to a group of Boalt Hall graduates. I may have been the least experienced attorney in the room (I'm class of 2007). In fact, I am pretty sure I was the least expereinced attorney in the room.

    And what did I learn from my experience (because you know, presenters learn too!)? Well, I learned that I need to make Independence Track focus more narrow than it was originally. 

    Or rather, I need to return to the roots. Because from the very beginning, my passion was in law school reform, and I was inspired by helping recent graduates get jobs straight out of law school. But then, as time went on, I became older and gained more experience, and began feeling like I can speak to ALL attorneys, not just recent ones. 

    My Boalt Hall seminar taught be that I was wrong - my message is designed specifically for NEW attorneys. That is where I come from, that is where I have credibility, that is where there is the most need for help. 

    From now on, the title of this project becomes: "The Independence Track: How To Succeed As a Freelance Attorney, Right Out of Law School."

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