Hi. I’m in need of advice and encouragement. I’m currently working as a public defender(2nd year) but I would love to pursue a solo private practice. I would like to leave the public defender because I am ready to make more money and I am no longer feeling the fulfillment I once felt. I have a family and work-life balance is a priority. What is a good way to gain experience in other areas of law as a solo practitioner? What areas of law are best for maintaining a work-life balance?

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Quit now before you hate being an attorney. Go to courts in surrounding smaller counties. Introduce yourself to judges and ask for court appointments. They pay little, but you're not going to need much at first. Join small county local bar associations and be active. In my experience, the bigger the city the more saturated the market. Smaller communities have a serious need for local attorneys. Small county courts are much easier to maneuver than bigger cities. Criminal and family law will be the best way to get quick clients. Then you can decide whether you want to go to different areas. Small cities need general practices. Don't think you need a million clients to be successful. 1 new family law or pretrial crim client/week at a flat fee of $2500 = $130k/yr. Charge more for needier clients. Spend money on your practice. Rent or buy a space. Asap begin an online marketing campaign. Hire a group to do it for you and build a professional website. Find and use mentors. Having been a pd, you should know a bunch of private practice attorneys by now. Befriend them. They're your best resource for clients and knowledge.

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Thanks so much!

In house. That’s the best work life balance and decent pay. Fulfillment if you enjoy the company you work for. I have some friends that are in house at tech companies, banks and real estate companies. They love it.

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I definitely agree with all the advice from Attorney 2. I made this transition a few months ago (PD to private solo). I’ve been doing many of these things, except I haven’t hired anyone for marketing. So far I have been doing my own posts on Facebook and LinkedIn. I did use GreenGeeks website building service and was happy with it. I will add that the suburban counties I practice in now have their conflicts list application on the county website. Take a look now and make sure you qualify to be added to the lists. It’s based on experience. From the info you shared I’d be surprised if you didn’t already qualify. Finally, my plan is to add another non-court date heavy area of law, like wills, trusts and estates (creation, not litigation). I am learning this area by doing CLEs and reading horn books. There is a great pro bono organization near me (Philly) that offers you free CLEs, super comprehensive manuals and provides you with a mentor as long as you take a pro bono cases for them. I plan to take a case soon once I feel I am ready, so the client is still getting good help.

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Thank you for your this. Glad to hear your experience in transitioning away from PD work. Ideally I would like to practice in an area with no court appearances required. I’m thinking estate planning and business law.

do the five years with the public defender before you leave, then you can choose whether to sit for a career and affirmation from the bar as a specialist and/or whether to hang out your own shingle…

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My only practical experience is in criminal defense(misdemeanors and low felonies)

What state are you in?

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