Transitioning Back to Life as an Employee After Being a Solo Attorney

by Melanie Fischer on April 18, 2016

shared_office_space_pros_consWorking as a solo attorney has countless benefits. You own your own firm. You are your own boss. You make your own schedule. You choose which clients to take and which to turn away. Essentially, when you are a solo attorney you are in control of your professional destiny. But as most solo attorneys know, running a small law firm is not always a walk in the park. It can be a difficult and challenging endeavor. And it might be something that you don’t want to do forever.

Does the thought of working as an employee of a company or a law firm appeal to you? If you are a solo attorney thinking about transitioning back to life as an employee, you are certainly not alone. Many solo attorneys have moments throughout their career when they feel the desire to give up their solo practice. But even though many think about this type of transition, only some ultimately go through with it.

The demands associated with running a solo law practice can be overwhelming, and the thought of working as an employee may seem like a refreshing prospect. An employee does not necessarily have the same set of responsibilities as a solo attorney does. Working as an employee offers certain perks, including a guaranteed salary, a support staff and office management services. These benefits can seem quite alluring.

What is it Like to Transition into Life as an Employee After Being a Small Business Owner?
The transition from a small business owner into an employee position is easier for some than others. The challenges you might face before, during, and after the transition include:

  • Having a firm grasp of your professional goals. Do you really know what you want to do with your career? Before beginning your search for an employee position, it’s important to have a good idea of the direction you want your career to take. It’s not easy to close the doors of a small law firm, so you want to make sure to have specific professional goals in mind.
  • Searching for a job that will meet your professional expectations. Once you know the direction you hope to take your legal career, start looking for jobs that meet your expectations. You might find that it is relatively easy to find job prospects – or you might realize that your “dream job” will be harder to obtain than you originally thought.
  • Explaining to prospective employers why you want to work as an employee instead of remaining a solo attorney. Some employers are leery of hiring individuals who have been small business owners because they don’t think the person will adjust well to life as an employee after so much time away from this type of role. Keep this in mind, and don’t get discouraged during your job search.
  • Closing down your solo firm in the most efficient manner possible. It’s important that your law practice be closed efficiently but also ethically. In other words, closing your doors and putting up a sign that says, “Out of Business” is not advisable. More information on Closing a Practice, Dissolution, or Leaving a Firm from The Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel is available on the Colorado Bar Association’s website.
  • Adjusting to a less flexible work schedule. The thought of working as an employee might sound appealing, but keep in mind it might require that you be in an office on a strict schedule. It can be difficult getting used to an inflexible schedule after being your own boss for a significant period of time.

If you are considering transitioning back to life as an employee after working as a solo attorney, you should be ready for significant changes. The process might be exhausting and emotionally draining. But even though the transition might not be simple, it’s certainly doable if you are committed to your professional transformation.


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