One of the decisions you have to make in preparing to open your personal injury practice is whether to practice solo or form partnerships. To make this decision, you need to analyze yourself if you are willing to share a firm with another practicing lawyer. Life as a solo is less structured than life in an organization. Solos don’t require you to have regular meetings. When you go solo, you don’t have to share office and other stuffs, you get to keep everything. However, when things go bad, you would expect that you won’t have anyone to share your problems too.
The advantages of partnership are both social and financial. Partnership in law practice is like marriage. There are two or more people to bring in resources and generate fees and to share expenses. This will give you peace in mind especially when one of you had a bad month as there is someone to catch for the office expenses. Solos can get feedback from other lawyers in making tough decisions but the advice of someone who has a direct stake in the decision is often more sound than that of someone who has no interest in the situation. Without someone to challenge, or at least question, a lawyer is more likely to make decisions on the “spur of the moment.” Partnership also allows you to take vacations as there is someone who can handle emergencies when you are out. If you go solo, it is your legal secretary or legal assistant who will take care of most things that might come up during your absence but what about the need for unexpected court appearance? Your secretary might arrange another lawyer to cover it but then it can be a hard situation. If you have a partner, there will be someone that can organize to cover a deposition or other proceeding while you were away on your vacation. And of course, you in return will do the same in case your partner is away.
K. William Gibson wrote that there are two primary reasons why having a partner will help you get financing for your personal injury law practice:
1. Your partner may have additional resources to use as collateral to secure a loan.
2. A lender will feel more secure about having two people on the hook for the loan rather than having just one person.
The person you choose to form partnership in personal injury practice should first and foremost, can be trusted. Do research before making the big decision of choosing your partner. You can talk with their former partners or other people who know them better than you do. Check their references. On a personal level, “your partner must be truthful, ethical, and considerate of other people, compassionate, slow to anger, and unselfish,” says K. William Gibson. On a professional level, he must have “good work ethic, diligence, thoroughness, a willingness to fight for clients, and the ability to present a case effectively” (How to Build and Manage Personal Injury Practice, 14). It is a lot better to have a partner who has the same goals for the practice as you have. Your partner should also have the same financial objectives as you. A partner with different financial goals and objectives with you might leave you crippled. Avoid someone who could just as easily live on his or her trust fund.