1.1.11 - The beginning of my first full year of practicing solo.............still scary, but with almost three months behind me, not quite as daunting. In the last week of 2010, I filed Articles of Incorporation and the "firm" became a official legal entity.
Signed up two new clients in the last week of the year - a new record - and learned that an old client from the prior firm, fired......the prior firm, and hired me. The transition from prior firm to my firm may not be smooth. We'll see.
As smoothly as I wanted my leaving the prior firm to be, it did not turn out that way. First, it was decided by the partners that no file would leave the office without being photocopied - and the photocopies were to be at my expense. This reproduction of file contents was deemed to be necessary just in case I committed legal malpractice while practicing at the prior firm.
Somehow I never got a sense of that lack of confidence about my legal abilities while practicing at the prior firm, especially when handling the clients and files that no one else wanted.
If one to were to sense some bad feeling about the prior firm, that would be correct.
I needed to leave the prior firm for numerous reaons, but I really wanted to the process of leaving to be non-controversial - friendly.
What I failed to consider was that my decision to leave the prior firm might be taken as a personal affront, a betrayal of sorts. And I really failed to consider that after leaving the prior firm, I would be considered an enemy of the prior firm.
The rules of ethics allowed me, after informing prior firm of my decision to leave, to let my clients know that I was leaving, and to share with them my contact information. Prior firm did not allow me to even inform any clients that I was leaving (other than those clients who were referred directly to me, or those clients who came with me to prior firm). I researched the best way to leave a law firm, spoke to mentors, and was fully versed in what was, and what wasn't allowed.
Further, in order to leave with the clients who were referred directly to me, and those who were clients of mine prior to joining this prior firm, I was informed by prior firm that all of my clients had to sign a consent form allowing for the withdrawl of prior firm and substitution of my new firm. AND I was informed of this dictate two days prior to my announced depart date.
So, on my announced depart date, none of my clients' files left with me - two days is not enough time in which to receive signed consents.
I am still in the process of getting the signature of the prior firm on several substitution forms - it seems that my letters and faxes are being ignored.
I regret that my ideal leaving did not occur, but I do not regret the leaving. My advice to any attorney who is considering leaving a firm, for whatever reason, would be not to expect that such a transition can be done without any bad feelings - just keep in mind what is best for you, as a person, and as an attorney - and take the plunge. It will be stressful, and you will feel vulnerable and uncertain. But, if you've reached the point where you feel the need to move on, you need to move forward.
Here's to the New Year, and to a new decade!
I intend to go forth and prosper.