Thomas Jefferson School of Law Alumnus Peter C. Blair '09 opened his criminal solo practice in 2013 where he now handles mostly serious and violent felonies, narcotics possession and sales, domestic violence, fraud, and simple misdemeanors such as DUI and petty theft. “I am thankful for my success in my short career as a solo practitioner, and I am determined to secure continued success in the future,” said Blair.
“It was an incredibly difficult decision to make. After receiving a decent salary for a number of years, it was daunting not knowing when and where the next paycheck was coming from. Thankfully, the decision paid off. I honestly could not have asked for a better start to my practice,” he added.
At the beginning of every case, I determine what the best possible result can be and then attempt to do better. “The most exciting/rewarding part about the job is formulating strategies and working to achieve this goal. This is what separates attorneys that get great results, from those that get unbelievable results. It is a strict policy that benefits my clients and ultimately the long-term future of my firm,” said Blair.
Blair was originally interested in intentional law during law school. During his first year, he clerked for a sports agent working with athletes and corporate sponsors in the United States, Europe, and South America. He also worked for an entertainment law firm working with local musicians and artists in San Diego dealing mostly with intellectual property and music incorporation before joining a criminal defense firm. “Within a week, I met several clients that were good people, with good families, that were facing very difficult situations. After a few weeks working in the criminal defense, I realized I had found the right career,” said Blair.
After law school, he worked as an independent contractor for several different firms – one of which was a top criminal defense firm in San Diego where he worked as an associate for approximately 3 ½ years. Reflecting on his experience there, Blair shared, “I learned valuable lessons and strategies in terms of how to obtain the best possible results for clients. I also learned how to run a successful criminal defense firm. While working at the firm, I handled hundreds of cases, including a number of highly publicized media cases in very serious felony and federal matters.”
Blair continued, “I feel very fortunate for the knowledge, education, and experience that I obtained, and I continue to maintain a very good working relationship with that firm. Working at a high volume, high profile firm for a few years provided me with a solid foundation that has enabled me to obtain very good results for my clients in my own firm.”
When asked what advice he would give others considering opening a solo practice Blair said, “For anyone flirting with the idea of leaving a steady paying job to go solo, keep in mind that there is always somebody out there working harder and getting better than you at what you do. Work harder than that person, and you’ll be fine.”
For the recent grads who have passed the bar, Blair added, “Whether you are applying for jobs or are thinking of going out on your own, my advice is the same: Know your place in your legal community. If you are starting to apply to jobs, be aggressive.”
So what does that look like? According to Blair, “For many people, ‘job search’ consists of sitting in their pajamas submitting resumes on Monster.com. Those applications go straight into the trash. Many graduates are content applying to X number of firms per day, sending the same cover letter, and only changing a few sentences depending on “to whom it may concern.” It’s all they need to do to feel justified in complaining about the economy and job market. You need to be more aggressive in your job search. Go to the firms. Ask to meet the partners. If they are unavailable, which they will be, leave your business card, resume, and a cover letter that is specifically drafted for that firm. If they don’t call you back, which they won’t, go back a week later. Do this until you get a short meeting. Offer to do work for free. Take small, independent contracting work from a number of different firms if you have to. Do whatever you can to show you are eager and willing to do whatever it takes to work at that specific firm.”