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Why Did I Start My Own Office?

Why Did I Start My Own Office?

I had a thriving career in a larger downtown firm, working for my own clients as well as being a mercenary trial lawyer for others’ clients. So why leave? I wanted to be able to provide direct service to my own clients without the overall firm structure as a limitation. The big firm model relies on a hierarchy of different lawyers and paralegals all working on the same cases. The lawyers at the top maintain the client relationship and the origination credit, while associates and paralegals provide the legal services. As a partner, the big firm model encourages origination of far more work than the partner can reasonable handle, with the goal of having multiple associates perform the work for the clients.

The big firm structure works quite well for servicing multi-national corporations litigating billion-dollar disputes. The cohesive team of lawyers working together is the only way to litigate such cases effectively. The structure works far less well for many other cases. Having a team of lawyers and paralegals overlapping work means higher billings, and the additional overhead means higher rates for all work.

The typical firm structure can create a disconnect for some clients, because the highly-experienced lawyer you hired may not be working on your case at all. This same structure can create a disconnect for the working lawyer as well, having little or no relationship with the client before picking up the case.

Thus, for years I played the role of mercenary trial lawyer for other partners’ clients; bulldog for hire within my own firm. I honed my skills and reputation by jumping into the fray regardless of the situation, and finding a way to win. Senior lawyers marketed themselves and the firm based upon that reputation, perpetuating the cycle.

However, as I built my own client base, I realized I could provide vastly better service by being involved from the beginning. And my clients understand they are hiring me personally, rather than a mystery associate. I value that relationship and I value the opportunity to provide high-quality legal work directly to my clients.

So I started my own firm to step out of the pyramid and eliminate the middleman. My clients now hire me directly, and they know precisely who is working on their case, and who will be arguing their cause at hearings and at trial.

Daniel T. Goldstein

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