If there’s one thing attorneys can count on, it’s that wherever they go people will ask for advice. But is that a professional hazard or a career opportunity?
For Ayesha Krishnan Hamilton, facing a big move with her family and the prospect of a new job search some 13 years ago, it was unquestionably the latter.
“People seemed to be asking, so why not set up my own shingle and earn some money?” she said recently, reflecting back on her start in solo practice. It turned out to be a great fit for Hamilton, now chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) Solo and Small Firm Section.
On Feb. 24, the section, in cooperation with the NJSBA and the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, will present a full day of programming at the 2018 Solo and Small Firm Conference at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Edison.
The day’s events include a keynote address by Nora Riva Bergman, author of “50 Lessons for Lawyers—Earn More. Stress Less. Be Awesome.” Sessions will cover issues including ethics, business management and marketing, sprinkled with numerous opportunities for networking. Continuing legal education credits are available.
For her part, Hamilton has never looked back from her decision to strike out on her own.
An important piece of advice she gives others looking to do the same is to understand that you are a small-business owner. “You have to be very conscious of the business end of your practice to make sure that you’re working efficiently.”
Networking with other small business owners is important, she said, crediting the Solo and Small Firm Section for being an enormous networking and referral service. In addition, she said, she joined the National Association of Women Business Owners and met business owners in different fields.
It’s also important to be strategic and to make sure you outsource the right things, she said. “I don’t like the bookkeeping; I outsource it,” she said. Others hire paralegals or other professionals, depending on the needs of their practice.
For Hamilton, the solo life gives her a flexibility she appreciates. “I really realized that I enjoyed being my own boss,” she said. “I really enjoy the ability to balance the rest of my life with my practice.”
The rest of Hamilton’s life includes serving as a councilwoman in West Windsor and sitting on various county committees. “I couldn’t do all of these things if I worked in a traditional firm setting,” she said.
“What I feel, and I get the sense that other solos feel too, is a great sense of passion about the practice. I think of my practice as my baby. And you do what you need to do because this is all yours.”