Five Reasons to Start Your Own Practice


Image courtesy of H.Kopp-Delaney

With many large firms collectively tightening their belts over the last three years, it is no wonder that many new lawyers fresh out of law school are looking to open a solo practice. Even many experienced lawyers are jumping the law firm ship to venture out on their own.

  • Keep more of your own money

If you are a partner or are planning to be one in the next few years, good luck. While many firms have spectacular office space downtown in modern high rises, that real estate comes with a steep monthly cost. As an individual with a financial interest in the firm, you share the burden of insurance, rent, and utilities with your partners. In some firms, these costs have become significant. While partnership does have its perks, opening a solo practice can mean substantially more money in your pocket, and your retirement plan (see #4). Solo practice costs can be much lower and you need not worry about unfunded pension obligations and other costs associated with bloated overhead.

  • Be Your Own Boss

One of the most rewarding elements of opening your own solo practice is that you can be your own boss. You will have complete control over your income and will be challenged every day to stay cashflow positive. The upside is that you have no salary cap and that you are solely responsible for your success. Your income success is not in the hands of some arbitrary manager.

  • Flexible Schedule

Another great perk of running your own show is that your schedule is super flexible. You’ll have much more family time and be able to work around competing obligations. You set your hours and the schedule of your workday, and once you have a routine, it should be easy to stick to.

  • Increase your 401 (k) contribution

We have Congress to thank for this sole practitioner bonus. As long as your LLC has one member, you can contribute $17,000 on the employee side, and up to 25% of net income on the employer side, for a combined total of up to $50,000 a year to your individual 401 (k) pre-tax. If you are over 50 years old, you can contribute an additional $5,500 under the “catch up” provision.

  • Refine your practice area

Finally, being a sole practitioner means you can focus your practice on areas of law you really enjoy. Further developing your mastery within specific areas of law will make you a stronger  and more attractive option in the marketplace. Use this to differentiate yourself in your local market.

Fast 4: Unify Your Condominium IT

broken laptop

Image courtesy of ph0rk on Flickr

Like many other small and medium size businesses, condominium associations have to have some sort of information technology infrastructure to manage and maintain their property. There are many different options for property management software out there, but today we’ll focus on a few key steps your organization can take to unify, simplify, and protect your IT infrastructure. Years ago most organizations were looking at mostly paper documentation and record keeping, with an odd laptop or desktop kicking around for printing or email. Now with the prevalence of cloud based services and associated integration methods, it might be  time your organization took IT seriously in 2013.


  1. Backup your data. It can not be stated enough. Every organization, big and small, needs at least some semblance of a regular, scheduled, backup strategy. It could be as simple as signing up for a account, which offers Dropbox simplicity with encrypted file storage and unified administration from virtually any device. Another easy option is to purchase an external hard drive from any electronics store and doing regular backups with the software built into most reasonably modern computers. These stores are vital for disaster recovery, such as cases where a computer crashes or records are damaged in extreme weather. By having a second, off site copy, your association can reduce its liability for loosing critical documents, like founding and guiding paperwork, contracts, financial records, and meeting minutes.
  2. Embrace BYOD. By embracing bring-your-own-device (BYOD), associations can minimize hardware expenditures by utilizing devices trustees already own, whether that is a laptop or an iPad. Using these in conjunction with cloud based software makes the most sense, especially when it comes to document management and reporting.
  3. Associate with your association. There are dozens of pre-fab portals and communities that your association can take advantage of to connect and converse with your neighbors in a constructive manner. While they can’t be used for all communication (some statues require residents be notified in writing) they can help foster a sense of community in between quarterly socials.  If you’re not feeling up to tacking community management, at least create a Facebook Group that you can brand & moderate, with some incentives to get residents to join in and contribute.
  4. Invest in documentation. If you’re not willing to completely overhaul your IT infrastructure, that’s ok. But at least make sure that there is ample & accurate documentation of proprietary systems, credentials, and contractors or professionals you can call if you’re stuck without access to the previous president’s email.

Top 6 Tips for Mitigating Condominium Fraud in New England


Image courtesy of Grendel Khan

Condominium associations have a lot on their plates these days: overseeing multi-unit communities, retrieving late dues, organizing board meetings, managing a multi-year budget, and being responsible for renovations & upkeep. Amidst all of these tasks, the most important one often falls to the wayside: protecting the association and its constituents from fraud. Condominium fraud is becoming more prevalent, even in New England, due in part to the lack of financial oversight that is common in many associations. Without the proper checks & balances, the opportunities for embezzlement & fraud increase dramatically. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for associations of all sizes to mitigate this risk.


  1. Break up board responsibilities. Delegating all of the banking power to one individual reduces the chance that they could be held accountable for fiscal misconduct. Assign check writing power to one member of your board and send bank statements to another.
  2. Require checks above $X amount be signed by two trustees.
  3. Schedule annual audits with an independent auditor. By having an external set of eyes on the books, potential conspirators are less likely to be tempted.
  4. Review financial statements monthly at board meetings. Make sure any anomalies are recorded in the meeting minutes and investigated thoroughly by at least two board members.
  5. Purchase fidelity insurance that specifically covers trustees, property managers, and any one else with significant access to the associations finances.
  6. Maintain and verify a reserve fund for shortfalls in the operating budget due to fraud or other emergencies.