Monday Q&A: Starting a law firm with 30 days notice

ericperkinsEven an advanced degree can’t ward off a pink slip. But a law degree may help local lawyers deliberate (and certainly footnote) all the options.

Eric Perkins started working at Hirschler Fleischer right after finishing law school. That was more than 10 years ago. But in March he was laid off. So he weighed the options and started his own firm focusing on business transactions.  Being in business now for himself gives him new insight into the sorts of challenges his clients face. And down the road that may make him even better at his job.

RBS chatted with Perkins about how he got started, and what it’s like to be on his own after more than a decade with a big firm.

Below is an edited transcript.

BizSense: When were you let go?

Eric Perkins: I was told first week of March, and within a month I had wrapped things up at Hirschler Fleischer.

BizSense: Had you had thoughts before that about starting your own firm?

Eric Perkins: I can’t say I never thought about it. Most people think about different career options as they go. And you can do a lot of things with a law degree. But without a doubt, the immediate catalyst of what I was going to do was losing my job. Do you focus on looking? Do you move laterally to another law firm? Do you spend time looking for an in-house position with a company? Or do you branch out on your own? Ultimately, starting a firm so I could continue doing the same type of business transactional work, and I’d be able to do it on my own.

And I could enjoy the benefits of being my own boss.

BizSense: That’s a big one for business owners. What have you enjoyed so far?

EP: As an example, being able to work with a local company to design my own website. It features the kinds of information and articles that I thought were relevant to my target audience. And to be able to jump online at a moment’s notice and update something on the website is a big plus for me.

BizSense: You were able to take some of your clients, right? So it wasn’t like starting from scratch?

EP: Yes. I was in regular communication with my clients. And now I have a healthy mix of clients. But I’m still actively marketing myself and looking for some new local clients.

BizSense: What are some challenges you’ve faced?

EP: While I can intellectually understand and appreciate the things business owners go through — handling everything from day-to-day administration, to marketing, to finances, to business generation. But, you don’t really have the true flavor of it till you do it yourself. Having been in startup mode, I have new-found and greater appreciation for a lot of clients I work with.

BizSense: Do you have an office?

EP: Yes, at Innsbrook. One unexpected thing in the startup process was that office. I had originally contemplated working at a home. But then I started looking around and talking to some people and taking office tours. I was surprised how tenant friendly the local real estate office market was and how affordable quality office space can be.

BizSense: Marketing a law firm can be tough. What’s your game plan?

EP: Right now I am a solo practitioner. So I’m marketing Eric Perkins the brand as opposed to regional or national law firm brand. My primary objective starting out is simply to get out in the community and network and meet people. In some respects it’s easier and more liberating than being part of a large company trying to sell a message.

BizSense: Are you going to expand?

EP: Well, within next three to six months, I hope to hire my first paralegal or associate attorney.

Aaron Kremer is the BizSense editor. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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