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How Many Hours a Week Does a Solo Attorney Work?

by Melanie Fischer on November 6, 2015

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There is no definitive answer to the question, “How many hours a week does a solo attorney work?” This is primarily due to the fact that a solo attorney can choose to work as many or as few hours as he or she desires in any given week. Just about any attorney who has worked for a law firm knows that young attorneys and attorneys new to a firm are typically required to work many more than 40 hours per week to meet billable hour requirements.

In contrast, a solo attorney does not have the same type of billable hour obligation as an attorney who is an employee of a firm. Nonetheless, in order to develop and maintain a successful independent law practice, a solo attorney must work the number of hours required to network with potential clients, meet with existing clients, complete legal work, run an office, bill clients, pay bills, and more. The total number of hours per week that it takes a solo attorney to complete all these tasks can vary from one solo attorney to another.

The Freedom of Working as a Solo Attorney
Unlike an attorney working as an employee of a law firm, a solo attorney has quite a bit of freedom. In contrast to an attorney working as a law firm employee, a solo attorney is in control of his or her own workload. If you are committed to working only a certain number of hours per week because you have other obligations such as young children or a part-time position somewhere else, it is certainly your prerogative as a solo attorney to work fewer than 40 hours per week. Working as a solo attorney does not necessarily provide you with a steady paycheck, but it does allow you to have ultimate control over your work schedule.

Hours Must be Spent Running Your Business
It’s important to remember that a solo attorney has several responsibilities that are not necessarily required of attorneys who work for a firm. For example, a solo attorney is responsible for all administrative duties associated with running a business. Bills must be paid, networking events must be attended, marketing efforts must be completed, and files must be kept organized. Someone has to be responsible for all of these odds and ends. Unless you hire someone to complete these tasks for you, responsibility for them probably falls on your shoulders. Therefore, the number of hours a week a solo attorney works must include the time spent on administrative, networking, and marketing duties.

A Solo Attorney Works as Hard as an Attorney who Works as an Employee of a Firm
It’s a misconception that a solo attorney does not work as hard as an attorney who works as an employee of a firm. In reality, the two employment situations are quite different. Even though it might seem as though an attorney who works as an employee of a firm works more hours per week, that attorney does not typically have the same business management responsibilities of a solo attorney. No matter how you look at it, attorneys in both settings must work very hard and be extremely diligent in order to achieve success.

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