Nope.  This is a post about a 2009 law school graduate who, despite having gotten decent grades, couldn’t find a job after law school.  It wasn’t his fault.  He was a bright, hardworking guy who wanted to be a lawyer.  But the economy had sunk, law firms large and small stopped hiring (and started firing), and this fellow, despite having gotten decent grades, found himself out of luck.  Let’s call him Francis. 

Unfortunately Francis had accumulated a huge student loan debt.  Although he was able to obtain a deferral, he knew he would have to start earning money soon.  Francis joined his state bar association and attended a seminar on opening and managing a solo practice.  He learned how to manage a client trust account and learned important ethics rules about fees and marketing.  The association also matched Francis with a mentor who would help him going forward.

At first Francis operated his practice out of his house.  He obtained a P.O. box and arranged to have all his professional mail sent to it.  He purchased a separate, dedicated land line and a smart phone.  When he was away from his landline he had all his calls forwarded to his mobile and answered every incoming call as if it were coming from a potential client.  He did not force his callers to listen to music while they awaited his voice. He was already tech-savvy and he built on his skills.   He downloaded a simple app to track his time and learned to create professional looking correspondence and bills on his word processor.   

Francis attended seminars on handling domestic and small criminal matters.  He read everything he could get his hands on and spent many evenings at the bar library reading periodicals and the local legal newspaper.  One evening he read about an important new appellate decision on marital property. 

The next day, Francis was exchanging emails with a law school friend who had, luckily, gotten a job at a firm.  His friend mentioned that his neighbor was looking for a lawyer to handle his divorce.  The friend arranged for the neighbor and Francis to meet, and Francis clearly explained that he was not affiliated with his friend’s firm and was a solo practitioner.  Although he was initially a little reticent about hiring Francis, the client was so impressed by Francis’ knowledgeable discussion of the recent appellate case that he did.  It didn’t hurt that because Francis’ overhead was so low, he could afford to offer a very competitive hourly rate. 

Francis spent nearly every waking hour working on the case, although he didn’t bill the client for the time he spent learning or putting together forms or boilerplate.  He knew that as his practice grew he would recoup his investment of time into these things.  He also formed a good working relationship with the opposing lawyer, who was a true professional and did not bully young lawyers because he knew he had once been a young lawyer himself.  The opposing lawyer did not assist Francis with Francis’ case, of course, but he did tell Francis where to file certain pleadings and how to schedule hearings so that the case would proceed smoothly. 

Eventually the parties negotiated a settlement.  Francis’ client wished he could have gotten more weekly time with his children, but he knew the agreement had been fairly negotiated and appreciated Francis’ hard work on his behalf.  Francis asked him to recommend him if the client knew of any other people needing legal services.  Francis soon had two more clients.

Before long Francis was spending a lot of time at the local courthouse.  When he appeared with his clients in court, they were impressed that the staff recognized Francis by name.  Francis developed a reputation as a hardworking, competent lawyer who treated his clients, the opposition, and the court with respect.  Francis didn’t often need to request favors from other lawyers, but when he did, they were usually granted because the other lawyers knew Francis would reciprocate.

Francis became busy enough that he was able to move into an office near the courthouse.  The lawyer he shared the office with handled business formation and transactions, and he and Francis were able to refer appropriate clients to each other.  Francis continued attending CLE classes and reading professional journals.  In time he expanded his practice to include more serious criminal and personal injury cases.  He hired a paralegal and a secretary and qualified for a small line of credit, which he monitored carefully.  When he won an appeal and the opinion was reported, and picked up in the legal paper, he began to get many more phone calls. 

This is not a post about Joseph Rakofsky.  This is a story about Francis, a young lawyer who caught a bad break, who worked hard and was willing to learn from people more experienced than he was.  This is a story about a lawyer who will probably never make the pages of the AmLaw Reporter or the Wall Street Journal or Above the Law or Twitter and doesn’t care, because he enjoys his job and is proud of what he does.  This is a story about a good lawyer.  We need more of them.