Why it may make sense to start your own legal practice

The legal landscape is changing fast. And while the traditional path to partnership starts to fade, there are still real opportunities out there for experienced lawyers looking for change – including the possibility of setting up your own legal practice.

Here’s how we see it.

The four options open to experienced lawyers

If you have some legal experience under your belt and want to move on, we think you have four real options.

1. Move to another in-house job

Why do it? Apply your legal skills in a real commercial context in a structured and secure environment.

The downsides: Job security isn’t what it once was. Limited opportunities for advancement. Variety of work can be missing.

Outlook: While the in-house market was active a couple of years ago, quality in-house roles are now less common (particularly senior ones) as companies look to do more with less.

2. Move to another private practice role

Why do it? The stimulation of specialist work, multiple clients and the lure of partnerships.

The downsides: Long hours, little flexibility… Oh, and timesheets, timesheets. timesheets!

Outlook: Increasingly little chance of partnership as firms go through a shakeup.

3. Move to a commercial role

Why do it? Get out of the law altogether and engage with the business.

The downsides You stop getting to apply your legal knowledge – at least directly. And the pay may be, well, less than you’re accustomed to.

Outlook: While lawyers’ experience is often valued, you may need to take a step backwards to go forward.

4. Set up your own practice.

Why do it? Lifestyle, flexibility, autonomy and independence. An increasingly high quality of work.

The downsides: We’ll deal with them below.

Outlook: Good, so long as you can overcome the downsides.

What you’ll need to consider before setting up your own practice

If you do choose to set up your own practice, we think there are some real issues you’ll need to deal with:

Admin: You won’t have the same level of admin/IT/finance support you may be used to.

Overheads: You’ll be responsible for things like workers compensation, superannuation, rent, PI Insurance, as well as for buying and setting up your own equipment.

Lack of peer support: You may miss the social aspects of a ‘normal’ workplace.

Workflow: Without that same peer support it’s also up to you to deal with things like holidays and sickness as well as peaks and troughs in your workloads.

Revenue stream: It can be tough getting out there each day to find your own work and you only get paid when you actually do billable work.

The real benefits of your own practice

Despite this, running your own practice can bring real financial benefits, as well as lifestyle ones.

Consider this: if you work 20 hours a week for nine months of the year and charge your time at $200 an hour (an achievable rate for most experienced lawyers) you could gross $160,000.

And while that income may not take account the overheads there may be tax advantages.

Dovetail helps eliminate the downsides

Best of all, Dovetail can help you overcome the downsides of running your own practice and finding your own work.

Dovetail has access to a huge network of clients, including many of Australia’s leading corporations. We provide our lawyers with both peer support and quality work, helping you secure a revenue stream without the need to waste time and effort on business development and marketing.

In other words, you get all the advantages of running your own practice without the worst parts.

To find out more get in touch.

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