Are you a dangling a hook in somebody else’s pond?

Law firm fishing in pondIf you’ve decided to hang a shingle or start your own law firm, it can be a difficult endeavor.  Statistics show that most businesses fail (8 in 10).  So, getting your firm off the ground and moving forward is not always easy.  Many lawyers end up seeking employment at a different law firm, once their law firm doesn’t work.

But if you have some success, and if you do some things the right way, there can be an opposite problem that can take hold.  Now, you have gotten some clients.  You’ve got some business.  Folks start to get used to seeing you at the courthouse and elsewhere.

Some of the people who see you at the courthouse may be other attorneys who practice in the same area or areas of the law.  Some of the other attorneys might be folks who tried to hang a shingle themselves, but it didn’t work.  Some may have hung a shingle, and while the firm hasn’t collapsed, it hasn’t been as easy or profitable as they were hoping.  Others might be attorneys who have had a great deal of success in the past, but are worried when somebody who they view as new is coming along.

This can cause a realistic — and often unforeseen – problem for other attorneys who have started a law firm with a reasonable or great amount of success.  It can result in various degrees of wondering about why your law firm is working?  It can also result in various degrees of worry that your success might come at their expense.

In sum, others can also look at the client pool in your area of law as limited — or a zero sum game.  So, if you are doing well, the worry of some is that it might be bad for them.

What do you do if you’ve hung a shingle and have had good success?

  • If you are you are doing well, you have to expect that some may view you as dangling a hook in their pond.
  • Second, you just have to simply keep doing things the right way in terms of how you run your practice.
  • Third, you have to be respectful and professional to everyone you encounter.
  • Four, you have to remain humble, level-headed and always keep things in perspective.
  • Five, you always want to keep your head on the long-game and understand that this might just be a right of passage.

In the end, it is difficult quandary for many lawyers who have decided to hang a shingle and start a new law firm.  On one hand, you don’t want your law firm to fail or struggle.  On the other hand, if you have success, success comes with its own set of unique problems, like this, that you probably never envisioned when you started it — and were just hoping that you weren’t going to be in the 80% of businesses that fail.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.

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