Don’t Have Experience . . . Can’t Get Experience

I’ve been looking for a new job for 3 months now.  I’m finding it incredibly frustrating.  For the past 12 years, I was a court-appointed defense attorney in juvenile criminal court.  I’ve spent 12 years in front of judges, defending minors.  I’ve spent 12 years analyzing evidence.  12 years negotiating good outcomes for my clients and going to trial when necessary.  12 years dealing with difficult kids and their (sometimes) difficult families.

Apparently, all of this counts for nothing.

Why?  Because I don’t have experience in any other type of law.

So the fact that the past 12 years have given me the skills to do, admittedly, with a learning curve, other types of law, that doesn’t seem to matter.  I can’t even get an interview.

Are there just too many attorneys out there?

I’m in the midst of doing the training to be a court-appointed attorney for minors in family court.  I just learned today that there’s an experience requirement – having represented minors in six contested custody cases.  I don’t have that experience so how am I supposed to obtain it??

Sorry . . . I know I’m venting here but I’m incredibly frustrated.  I’m smart, organized, professional, good interpersonal skills, good written and verbal skills.  And I can’t find a job.

Starting a Business – What to Spend Money On?

As I work on developing my private practice (I’m an attorney, for those of you who don’t know), I’m beginning to face the question of just what should I spend money on?  What’s most important?  Where will my money be best spent?  What do I need to do now versus what can I put off a little bit?

Figuring all of that out can be more than a little overwhelming.  It seems like there are so many choices, so many options, so many possibilities.  And maybe worse of all, oftentimes there’s really no clear “right” or “wrong” answer.

My approach to sorting through these decisions is to go back to the very basics.  Starting with, “O.k., to  make this work, I’m going to need clients.”  So . . . where am I going to find those clients?

The first obvious answer seems to be the internet.  So, I need a website.  Luckily for me, I have a good friend who designs websites.  She thankfully agreed to work on mine and it should be up and running soon.

The internet is good but pretty broad and doesn’t really guarantee anything.  Our local Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service that I’m in the process of signing up for.  Unfortunately, that led to another expense . . . malpractice insurance.  I got a couple of quotes and need to finish up that paperwork today.

The Bar’s referral service made me wonder if there are other referral type services in our community.  Back to the internet . . . we have a bunch of “self-help clinics” in the county but they can’t handle everything and so . . . they have their own list of attorneys they refer out to!  I sent them emails and am working on getting on those lists.

So I’m feeling like that’s a pretty decent amount of marketing without much cost (really, zero cost besides the malpractice insurance).

Next question:  If I get a client referred to me, where am I going to meet with them??  This one is trickier because I don’t want to spend the money on renting an office, furnishing it, phones, internet, etc.  I’m not anticipating ever having a full-time practice.  I could use my husband’s therapy office but 1., he uses it more than full-time and 2., there’s not a table or anything to spread papers out on, etc.  That doesn’t seem like a good option.  Second option is that I had an attorney offer that I can use his office any time I need, free of charge.  I don’t know this attorney well so I hesitate to take him up on his very generous offer but that may be the best option for the moment.

Let’s see . . . what else??  I have business cards.  I have a very basic letterhead that I just print out on plain paper.  I have file folders and forms to take notes on, a fee agreement, an email and an office phone number (which is a free google number).

I feel like there must be things I’m missing!!!!  But I’m really afraid of spending a bunch of money and then having zero clients walk through my non-existent door.  I’m trying to cover the basics and that’s it.

Would love to hear from people who have started their own businesses!!!  What did you spend money on?  Where was your money well spent and what could you have skipped??

The Evil Necessity of Networking

Networking.  I shudder when someone says that word.  However, in the past couple of days, its occurred to me that I might need to undertake some of this dreaded task.

I need a new job.  The job search hasn’t turned anything up.  I’m not even getting calls back for jobs I’m clearly qualified for.  I don’t know why and its becoming a bit depressing.  I feel like I’m doing everything right but am getting zero results.

In the meantime though, an acquaintance just happened to refer a colleague to me who needed a juvenile criminal defense attorney.  Hey!!  That’s what I am!!!  Why, yes!!  I can help you!

That puts me at three clients (2 of whom are paying me; one I’m doing pro bono.)  Which has got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could give private practice a try.  Which got me to thinking about networking.

Ugh.

I’ve stated here on my blog previously that I’m pretty introverted.  I can get up in front of people and talk (particularly if I have my Hawaiian float hat on – that’s another story) but facing a room full of people where I’m supposed to introduce myself to people, strike up conversations and make contacts pretty much fills me with dread.  How do people do that??

Where do I find places to “network”?  How does this even work?  So many questions!  So far out of my comfort zone.

I started  yesterday by having coffee with an acquaintance (she’s my stylist . . . Style by Malia . . . stylebymalia.com . . . she’s fabulous) who has her own business and seems to do a lot of networking stuff.  Thought I would ask her for some advice.  That was really helpful; she gave me some good resources.

O.k., o.k., but now, I actually have to go to one of these things.  And, like, talk to people.  But I do need to, right?  Because I need clients.  And telling people that I’m an attorney and open for business is how I’m going to find them, right?

Sigh . . . o.k.  I’ll report back on my first networking adventure.  Wish me luck!