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Time flies when you’re flying solo

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 30, 2014 in The After-3L Life

I knew it had been awhile since I’d written something here, but it didn’t really click that it had been sooo long until Thanksgiving this past week :beatup:

It also served as a reminder that an awful lot of stuff can happen in just three months.

Needless to say, things have been hectic. My associates both found (much) better paying jobs.1 I briefly brought in a trio of interns who didn’t pass the bar and needed to make ends meet for a little bit.2 Won a pair of awards.3 Lost a pair of trials I should have won. Then (when I was seriously questioning wtf I was doing with my life) won another pair of trials I should have lost. Fought with Samson.4 Fought with opposing counsel.5 Fought with my alma mater.6 Spent a much-needed Thanksgiving break with my grandparents. The list goes on.

The law firm has survived its second full year and was still somewhat profitable. Fees earned went up +37%, but expenses climbed +32% so that pretty much washed out the gain; net profit went up just over $1K.7 I’ll post a full finance breakdown at some point in the near-term(-ish) future.

The other cool thing that happened was making my debut on the law-related speaker circuit :surprised:

A room. Of lawyers. Listening to me.

A room. Of lawyers. Listening to me.

After helping a dozen or so folks start their own law firms, and keeping pretty thorough records on my own startup experience, a few months ago I was asked to put together a presentation for a North Carolina Bar Association group called Starting Out Solo that focuses on lawyers who have just started a solo practice or are thinking about going that direction.

The presentation was basically supposed to be a “how to” guide on starting up a law firm, with an added section glommed on about doing the monthly trust account reconciliations.

And a bunch of people showed up :crack:

Even though I’ve been doing presentations on leadership development and on Robert’s Rules of Order for years now, I was crazy nervous presenting to a room full of peers (you can tell my hands were shaking from how blurry the picture I took turned out). But it went very well — so much so that I was asked to do the same presentation for a CLE in October8 and another one coming up in a couple weeks.

Things have been hectic. But still good :)

Sorry for being MIA for months at a stretch y’all. Should have more soon. Have a great night!

  1. And also taught me that my managerial skills leave much to be desired at this point in my career. I learned a lot during the time they were here, including that I suck at delegation. []
  2. One each helping with NC SPICE, marketing, and getting me organized. It’s a sign of how chaotic things were that I still haven’t actually looked at what they produced on several projects yet… []
  3. The NCCU 40 Under 40 Award, and one that won’t be announced until January. []
  4. The little sh*t has somehow learned how to get into the refrigerator, and has raided it three times despite my efforts to stop him. []
  5. Including one, during discussion of a case, randomly goes “I notice you’re very into blogging.” It was weird. []
  6. I will once again be coaching the TYLA trial teams for UNCCH Law. The details are even more ridiculous than last year if you can believe that. []
  7. Needless to say that New Year’s Resolution won’t be coming to fruition :beatup: []
  8. The program for new lawyers. It was called NAPP back in my day, though now apparently they’re calling it PNA: Professionalism for New Admittees. []

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The Hectic Life of a Low-Wealth Entrepreneur

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 11, 2012 in The After-3L Life

I’m still here!

It seems like at least once a week I say to myself “I really need to start updating law:/dev/null regularly again”… I log in to the WordPress admin interface… clean out the spam comments and update outdated plugins…

…then promptly get sidetracked by something and never actually write anything down :beatup:

Life over the past month has been crazy. Certifiably nuts. I don’t think I’ve ever had this many things going on simultaneously in my life. Ever.

The law firm’s been up-and-running for a smidge under two months, and I’ve had around 13 clients in that timespan. The crazy part is that I’ve represented those clients despite having no business cards, no website, no letterhead or envelopes or advertising — just my LinkedIn profile, an unpublicized Facebook page, and the Twitter account I barely use.1

I’m also 6-0 in adversarial proceedings, which is just downright surreal. Had you told me back when I got my license that I’d go my first two months without losing a case, I’d have called you crazy. But I’m now 3 foreclosures, 2 misdemeanors, and 1 breach of contract down without a losing client. I know the first loss comes to everyone eventually but I’m over-preparing in the hope I can delay the inevitable as long as possible ;)

Panorama of the new place right after moving in

Speaking of the law firm, I also migrated out of my apartment into a bona fide office. Trying to work from home was cheaper but incredibly inefficient between the dog and the lack of dedicated space for office-related work. The office is huge (~223 square feet), half a block to the Durham Courthouse, and cheaper than damn near everything in downtown Raleigh or Durham — and a testament to the utility of both networking and poker. :surprised:

How so? Well one of my friends from Student Senate connected me to a Raleigh attorney to talk about NC SPICE. I had lunch with him, and he recommended I talk with a particular Durham DWI attorney. I had lunch with him, and he invited me to join his friends at a weekly poker night they have on Mondays. After losing my entire buy-in one week and half my buy-in the next week, I randomly asked him if he knew any attorneys with spare offices they wanted to sublease.

Turns out he had two, including the one I’m in now :spin:

So I’ve got an office, conference room, full kitchen, lobby with receptionist, free parking, all right next to the courthouse! Plus the place is huge enough that I’m now splitting it with EIC, who’s getting ready to start her own practice as well.

And speaking of NC SPICE and splitting things, there’s been some developments on that end as well. I got a response from the Internal Revenue Service that it would take them 9 months just to assign our 501(c)(3) application to somebody for review, then that person would have 90 days to make a decision — meaning we’ll get no update at all whatsoever until June 20132 :crack:

So at our most recent Board of Directors meeting last week, the Board authorized me to cleave the group into two: the education-related components will stay in the nonprofit, and the office support services will get rolled into a new corporation. Since then I’ve lined up 4 investors interested in getting the program off the ground, and we’ve got our first in-person interest meeting and focus group slated for 12/12/12 at 6:00pm.

We’ve also got around 216 people following the NC SPICE Facebook page, and a hair’s breadth over 200 followers on the NC SPICE Twitter feed.

The only downside is that I’ve now gone from running one nonprofit 6 months ago to running a nonprofit, a corporation, and a law firm all at the same time :beatup:

A long overdue lifestyle change. Just 18lbs to go!

On the personal side, my quest to get back in shape is still on target with me down -27lbs since June 30th. I don’t think I ever wrote the original entry I meant to write on that, but during bar prep my good friend Tim Lipka (Mr. QC) from NCSU’s Student Government passed away from a heart attack at age 25. I’d just had drinks with him when I was in DC for the Howard Moot Court Competition back in February, and we’d talked on Facebook about grabbing lunch when he came to town before the DNC convention in Charlotte. His passing was coupled with an unexpectedly high blood pressure reading I got during a regular checkup the day before, so the two of those things combined freaked me out enough to get my life in order.

More exercise and less food has been the lifestyle change for the past few months, and I’m slowly making progress. My target weight is 175lbs so I’ve got a bit more to go but it hasn’t been nearly as hard as I imagined thus far — and my blood pressure is coming back down slightly, hopefully meaning I’ll be able to avoid medication.

Aside from my personal health, life is good. I’m still contributing semi-regularly over at JD Oasis. Samson is still happy and healthy. And even though I’m broke financially I know things are going to pick up as time goes on.

That’s all I’ve got for this entry, but hope to (seriously) have more some time soon. I hope all of you have had an amazing weekend, and enjoy the week ahead! :D

  1. Turns out my “no frills and no bullsh*t” reputation from years of overexposure in N.C. State‘s Student Senate, the UNC Association of Student Governments, and NCCU Law‘s Student Bar Association has helped with client development — which is odd considering those groups each had plenty of people in them who are now lawyers :crack: []
  2. I thought the purpose of us having to pay $850 just to apply was to ensure the IRS had adequate reviewers to look at these things in a timely fashion, but apparently I was wrong… []

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