When Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life,” he probably was not thinking about the life of a solo practitioner. Most of us work extremely hard — and hopefully find our jobs intellectually and financially rewarding. Then again, lawyers are not strangers to hard work. For many of us, hours and weeks of poring over our law books are succeeded by the years spent honing our legal skills in various law firms, and they all culminate in one overwhelming question: “Should I hang out my shingle?”

During the years that preceded the “economic slump,” most aspiring small firm owners were entrepreneurial in spirit, full of excitement and anticipation, as they brainstormed about the names of their new firms and their structure, and as they created lists of potential clients and practice areas.