5 Quick Ways to Get Your Practice Off the Ground

hints_btnAs stated in my first article for Reasonable Doubt, I plan to continue to write articles to aid young lawyers such as myself. In this piece, I outline 5 quick ways to make your transition from struggling law student to struggling criminal defense lawyer a little bit easier.

  1. Run Lean

This might be the most important piece of advice I have ever been given. My mother and father ran their own medical practice, and they always used to preach the importance of keeping your expenses low. As someone that started my own law practice shortly after passing the bar, I cannot emphasize this enough. Unless you know something I don’t, money is VERY short when you’re starting your own practice, so unnecessary expenses can sink you before you start. Don’t fall prey to online advertisers that constantly call you promising a certain amount of clients for a price, it’s not the best way to allocate money. Try to find an experienced lawyer that has extra space in his/her office and needs help with resets, or other things they don’t feel like doing. It’s a much better way to approach starting a practice, and it helps provide invaluable experience.

  1. Find Experienced Mentors

Again, unless you know something that I don’t, when you start off practicing criminal law, you do NOT know what you’re doing. Having as many mentors as possible is invaluable, as they are valuable resources to bounce ideas off of, as well as people that can help you with any number of things, whether it’s sitting with you at trial, or helping with motions. Oftentimes, a problem that you have no idea how to solve is something that an experienced lawyer has done many times over, especially when you’re starting off. (HCCLA has an excellent mentoring program comprised of “second chair” and “brainstorming” opportunities.)

  1. Stay Organized

As a horribly disorganized person working to right my wrongs, STAY ORGANIZED! Use law practice management software, and make sure to collect money from clients in a way that works for you. Personally, I use Square Invoicing, Clio, and Docusign. Square Invoicing allows me to automatically import payments into my Quickbooks, which makes accounting easier. Clio simply allows me to keep track of what’s going on in my practice. Docusign allows me to electronically store all of my representation contracts online, which is easier than having to keep up with a bunch of paper contracts. And no, I’m not getting paid to promote any of those apps.

  1. Stay Updated on the Law

One of the best pieces of advice that I was given since I’ve became an attorney was given to me by the esteemed Robert Alton Jones, my mentor. He told me that once you become a lawyer, you cannot stop reading the law. While this may seem like a very basic piece of advice, keeping up with the law can prove to be invaluable. Read law journals, and subscribe to Justia updates online. Oftentimes, having a figurative “bag of tricks” can save one of your clients in a pinch.

  1. Be Respectful

Finally, DO NOT let being an attorney go to your head. At the end of the day, it’s a job just like anything else. Be respectful to not only clients, but court staff and prosecutors. Prosecutors are people just like anybody else, and they see tons of defense attorneys. Be the one that stands out because of how respectful and agreeable you are, not the one that stands out because they hate dealing with you. Also, help from court staff is invaluable, because every court has different rules. Having them on your side can bail you out when you make your inevitable rookie mistake. You can get more flies with honey than vinegar…or something like that.

About Tillet J Mills II

As a recent graduate from the University of Missouri-Columbia law school, Attorney Tillet J. Mills II has dedicated his legal practice to the defense of men and women facing a wide range of criminal matters. Since moving to Harris County recently, he has remained committed to helping his clients secure the best outcomes possible. With a public speaking background, a long-documented history of charity work, and a relatable personality, Tillet J Mills II has the skillset of a successful criminal defense lawyer.

Contact Tillet at 832-942-8389