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Let’s face it, the Big Law life isn’t for everyone. Some 4.4 percent of law school graduates—or about 1,900 each year—launch their own firms, according to the National Association for Law Placement, which last ran the numbers in 2014.

In talking to young lawyers who went into business for themselves during the past few years, Law.com found that some had no choice: They couldn’t find a place at a law firm, where hiring from top-tier schools has improved since the recession but generally not from lower-ranked schools. Some of the recent graduates we talked to did find a law firm job; but they didn’t like it. Others were realizing ambitions—they preferred the flexibility and autonomy of running their own practices, plus the close interaction with clients.

The solo career choice is not easy, they said, but added that practice incubators, which provide office space and support for young solos, can ease the pain. The lawyers we spoke to were virtually unanimous in their advice to others contemplating law school: Think carefully and understand what you’re in for, both during your legal education and when launching a career. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Michael Pernesiglio, 29, The Law Offices of Michael S. Pernesiglio
Tausha Riley, 41, Signature Law Firm
Christine MacDonald, 28, The Law Offices of Christine R. MacDonald
Richard Thompson, 33, Law Office of Richard J. Thompson
John Varga, 33, Assemble Law Group