NY Lawyer: Going Solo A Mistake? Or Is Something Else Going On Here?

Is being a solo worth it? This article at NY Lawyer.com seems to suggest, “No.” And before I get mad, I think, I’d better laugh.

It was actually a good choice – the laughter – because the article really doesn’t achieve its purpose, assuming its purpose was to convince readers that those who leave BigLaw to go solo made mistakes. Here’s a sample quote:

Perry isn’t the only new solo to try her hand at steering her own ship only to find that she missed the crew. The tension between the desire to be the captain and the need for help has led other recent solos to rejoin established firms. Former Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins partner Reed Kathrein said recruiting into his startup was difficult, leading him to hop on board with a Seattle-based firm. Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy veteran Bruce Simon said he spared himself at least six months of slow growing by joining a boutique with headquarters in Los Angeles. “Part of being an entrepreneur is constantly challenging your business plan,” Simon said. “If it’s not working, then you need to change. You need to be flexible.”

“Recruiting is difficult”? “Challenging your business plan”? “Be flexible”? Is that really what’s going on here? Or is it something unfortunately far more common and insidious?

Here’s what I think: Being a solo – being an entrepreneur of any flavor – is hard work. If you go in to it thinking anything different, then you’re deluding yourself. If you aren’t ready for that difficulty – to make those hard choices, to juggle the varying demands – then the solution isn’t to go running back to Big Law. It’s to get ready!

Have we become a profession of doing the easy thing, of avoiding something just because it’s hard? Of giving up simply because it’s not all sunshine and daisies?

I don’t think so. What’s going on here? A little fear of success, perhaps some fear of hard work, but more likely, a lack of preparation coupled with an inflexible mindset (one reason I have to laugh at the “flexible” quote above). It’s easy to get caught up in the giddiness of planning for your new business and gloss over the gritty details. That’s a mistake. But if you do gloss over something critical (and I confess, it’s happened to me), the proper response is “fix it.”  Not “leave it.”

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