TGD Law: Year 1 Recap

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 12, 2013 in The After-3L Life | Subscribe

For better or worse, it’s a sign of my near-terminal inability to get back into the blogging routine that it took more than a month since my last entry. :beatup:

Several folks reminded me of the extended absence this week so I thought I’d cobble something together. :D

A couple weeks ago, back on September 21st, I officially hit the 1-year anniversary of starting my own law firm right out of law school. And with that milestone came the attendant benchmark-assessing / income-calculating / win-loss-recording administrivia.

The results were not what I’d have guessed they would be when I started: my workload has been absurd, my time management skills suck, and if my tax return is to be believed I’m financially more destitute now than when I was a homeless college dropout.1

I’m also apparently a much better lawyer than I am a businessman :crack:

A peek into the TGD Law bank account after Year 1

A peek into the TGD Law financials after Year 1

On the right is a chart I put together with some of the details from the year running from 21 September 2012 to 20 September 2013, with the percent of my practice areas based on gross income.

On the lawyer side of things, in the one year since I started practicing (and the not-quite-200 clients I’ve had in that time) I’ve only lost 1 case.2 I stopped keeping tracking of the wins entirely because it started sounding absurd when folks would ask how the year had gone; needless to say, I’ve been very fortunate on the trial front.

But I’ve also made some very boneheaded decisions in the money-making department. :beatup:

Key example #1: burning several hundred dollars’ worth of gas helping a guy I met at NC State with a dozen criminal charges (pro bono).

Key example #2: taking a personal check from an attorney I represented in a foreclosure case… whose check promptly bounced after I saved her home (and who still hasn’t paid me several months later).3 :mad:

As much as I love piling up good karma, I’m doing this to make a living — so (also needless to say) I’m a bit disappointed with how the first year has turned out.

The one bright spot in the data, aside from the win-loss record, is that more than half my practice is already in my preferred focus area helping small businesses. I have absolutely no clue how that’s happened given the still-not-completed status of the TGD Law website but on that I’m not going to complain. :)

"Did I hear you say 'food'??"

“Did I hear you say ‘dinner’??”

Things are also improving (thank goodness): the first 11 days of October 2013 have brought in more than my first two full months of practice from 09/21/12 to 11/20/12.

I just hope/pray it continues, because Samson isn’t as big a fan of ramen noodles for dinner as I am. ;)

So there’s a glimpse into the life of one particular starting-from-scratch solo practitioner! I’m still a strong supporter of the whole going solo option — I’d venture that nearly 100% of y’all could easily outperform these financial metrics — I’m just maybe a smidge more cynical than when I began.

Hope all of you have been doing well, and enjoy the rest of your weekends! :D

  1. Back then I might have been homeless, but at least I wasn’t sporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt… []
  2. It was a foreclosure defense case on an investment property that I had no business trying to defend: my clients lived in California and refused to come to court, and none of North Carolina’s foreclosure statutes protect investment homes like they do primary residences. And I still somehow got things delayed by 6 months… B-) []
  3. An attorney! :crack: []

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2 Comments

Paul Florence
Oct 28, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Thank you sincerely for posting this. Its good to know the cold, hard reality of the profession. I worked with a solo who has been practicing for over 25 years and his numbers have been way down the past few years. I think his path was similar to yours in that he pretty much went solo right after law school. He may have even started making around what you posted here, and I think he doubled it in one or two years after that. All it takes is one unexpectedly massive case.

You’ve got some guts starting out solo, I like the idea of it but I don’t think I can just jump right in to being a first time business owner while simultaneously being a first time lawyer. I hope I can pick your brain some time about your experience.

Thanks for writing.


 
TDot
Nov 28, 2013 at 11:08 PM

I appreciate it Paul! Though don’t mistake bull-headed stubbornness for guts ;)

Let me know whenever you’re downtown, I’m happy to talk over lunch any time


 

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