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Lunch with TJSL’s Solo Practitioners: Learning to Go it Alone

April 11, 2013

Lunch with the Solos
Lunch with the Solos
Lunch with the Solos
Lunch with the Solos
Lunch with the Solos
Lunch with the Solos
Lunch with the Solos
Lunch with the Solos

TJSL hosted an informative event on April 10 – “Lunch with the Attorneys in the TJSL Center for Solo Practitioners.”

The nine TJSL alumni who are part of the incubator program – the “new solos” – talked about their experiences at the center and answered questions posed by the students, faculty and staff that came to the event.

“The experience has been fantastic,” said Patrick Long ‘10, who along with the other eight attorneys, has his own solo practice in the collaborative environment of the center, where they all share an office. “I am building my practice slowly, but surely.  More and more clients are coming in.”

Of course, getting clients is one of the biggest challenges any solo practitioner faces.

“How do you get clients?,” asked Hannah Bingham ’10, one of the new solos. “Involvement with the community and building relationships,” Bingham said, answering the question.

Ashley Clark Stewart ’09 added, “Network. Join associations of other lawyers.”

One important referral source the new solos stressed is the TJSL family itself – faculty, staff, students and alumni.

“Keep us in mind,” said Jill Cremeans ’05. “We’re trying to get the word out.”

“They are fantastic,” said Adjunct Professor Lilys McCoy, Director of the Center for Solo Practitioners. “They are go-getters. They are motivated!”

The mission of the center, which began operation in downtown San Diego in November 2012, is not only to provide the lawyers with the resources and knowledge on how to succeed in solo practice, but to provide affordable legal services to the community as well.

“TJSL is on the cutting-edge of realizing that legal services have become too expensive for some people to afford,” said Jeffrey Abate ’06.

“In the center, we have a lot of resources we wouldn’t have if we were practicing alone. We are very collaborative and supportive of each other. And I can say to a client, ‘If I can’t help you, I know someone who can!’”

TJSL has a solo practitioners track for law students, some of whom asked the panel what they can do differently in the classroom while still in law school to prepare to launch their own practice when they graduate.

“You should realize how valuable the classes are,” said K. Lee Graham ’09. “Realize the weight of what you are doing.”

“Be prepared,” was Jill Cremean’s advice. “The transition will be easier,” she added, talking about how the prepared lawyer is the more effective lawyer.

“Learn to think on your feet,” said Ashley Clark Stewart, who has been surprised in the courtroom observing lawyers who can’t do that.

“Take as many classes as possible,” said Long. “And practice your legal writing.”

Other new solo attorneys on the panel included;: Ben Aguilar ’11, Joshua Bonnici ’10 and Stuart Zander ’09.

All of these attorneys are showing the way for those who will come after them in solo practice.

“This group is especially special,” said Professor McCoy.