At what point can you be said to have officially opened your own legal practice?
Is it getting business cards? Setting up a website like this one? An email? A new destination for your legal mail other than home? I’ve been wrestling with this question ever since I decided I wanted to go solo a few months ago, when the prospect of the task seemed about as daunting as a little jog to Mordor. There are a lot of steps, and then as you go along it seems like more steps appear out of nowhere that you didn’t even realize you’d need to worry about. And each time something came up, I worried about how many other blind spots I may have, especially those involving security and malpractice concerns.
But today, on Friday the 13th, I decided that I’m officially open. I’m telling myself it’s not only not a bad omen that I mailed my check for professional liability insurance on Friday the 13th, but in fact a good sign. On a day that’s notoriously unlucky, I’ve spent the money necessary to (hopefully) shield myself from the bad luck of running into some sort of malpractice error while I plug my nose and dive into the deep end of entrepreneurship. Today is the day.
I’m officially a California solo estate planning attorney, and I. Am. So. Excited.
I love estate planning. It was my favorite part of studying for the California Bar Exam (which, as you may have heard, is mostly not a very fun thing to do). Why do I love it? Because generally speaking, it’s an area of law where you can decide for yourself what it is you want to do with your wealth. So long as your documents are drafted and executed properly, you can generally decide what happens to your property should you die or become incapacitated. And if you want to change your mind later on down the line, you can do that, too.
And that brings me to my second point in “why I chose to go into estate planning”: the importance of this area of law. One of my favorite Ben Franklin quotes (I was a history major in undergrad, so there are many) has always been the one that goes, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I’m sure it’s been repeated by no less than thousands of estate planning attorneys and financial planners in promoting their businesses over the years, but you can’t deny the truth of that statement: We all have to pay taxes at some point, and we’re all going to die at some point. Therefore, we’re all going to bump into wills and trusts eventually. And before the end of law school, I learned several times over that sometimes death and taxes can happen tragically sooner than you expect.
Look, I understand why so many people avoid estate planning. It’s awkward. You have to think about your own demise, and most people plan on living a long time, so they figure they don’t have to think about it for a long time. But we don’t exactly have visible timers above our heads telling us exactly how much time we have left. And for that matter, it’s not even just death you should think about, it’s incapacity, too. Powers of attorney and advanced health care directives also fall under the area of estate planning, and they give you the ability to allow someone else to make financial and health care decisions for you in the event that you cannot. And if you have minor children, it’s wise to spend some time thinking about what might happen to them if something happened to you. Estate planning can help you with that as well, through guardianships.
So that’s the soapbox. It’s kind of an important area of law, and not enough people make proper arrangements — especially younger people like my peers. Ok, I’ll step off now so I can finish this post.
So the aim of this blog is primarily informational. I anticipate that I’ll mostly be talking about estate planning — maybe a bit about solo practice, too. Either way, I can’t stress enough that nothing on this blog or on my website creates an attorney-client relationship. Each estate is different, so you should speak with a professional before you rely on any kind of advice you read on the Internet — including mine.
I’ll try to update this blog about once a week. Hopefully I can stick to that. But we’ll see. It’s just the beginning!