Thursday, 14 January 2010

Striking out on my own

This blog features surprisingly little human-interest content, in terms of solo IP practitioners describing their own experiences as they leave the safe world of the larger enterprise and set off on their own. Here, in this post, trade mark attorney Aaron Wood, who has worked with a variety of big-name firms, writes of his motivation to exchange a life of comfort and security for the uncertainties of independent practice. Says Aaron:
"The decision to set up on my own was one of the hardest, yet easiest, decisions of my life. There is risk – substantial risk – but the personal rewards outweigh any risk.
I have been blessed in my career to work with a number of wonderful lawyers, wonderful managers and wonderful business people, and on some occasions all these traits have been exhibited in the same person. A few years ago I crossed the path of a wonderful lawyer who has remained a mentor to me through his words and actions. I was struck by his ability to create lasting bonds with clients, to mentor and manage people and to lead by his own convictions. His effect on me was immeasurable.
I realised slowly that I was unwilling to compromise on some convictions, unable to compromise on my plan and increasingly unperturbed by the prospect of running my own firm. I am well aware that a “hump” will come – a time that will test my convictions, my plans and my belief – but the prospect of being able to decide how to deal with this hump reassures me. Starting the firm has also fitted in well with putting the final touches on the my book, and hopefully this will lead to further opportunities.
The obvious risk of starting your own firm is the lack of work and the cash flow issue. I am very pleased to say that so far (touch wood – or should that be touch Wood!) there is work and people are happy to pay for honest work. It is hard work, but surely no harder than many magic circle lawyers work each day. I am also very pleased that I am being instructed by clients who you would not expect to instruct a sole practitioner. Most trade mark, design and copyright work does not require an army of faceless corporate minions, so I am blessed to be in an area of law where small firms can realistically be instructed by big clients.
The hardest part was actually making the leap. How often do we speak in life of how we should like to strike out on our own, only to back down. I decided that the only way to truly make the leap was to scuttle my boats, making it essential to then make things work. It is surprising how many serendipitous events occur when you keep your ears open and need things to work out. It is also amazing how many great business people you meet who regard you with respect rather than the disdain we usually think people have of the legal profession".
Thanks, Aaron. This sets me thinking, people who work in large practices and start talking openly about serendipity start attracting some odd looks from their colleagues.


  1. You make an excellent point that solo experienced trademark practitioners are a hugely valuable resource to large brand owners. When they instruct us, they get the person they instructed-no delegation - guaranteed.
    Perhaps we ought to design a lapel sticker to wear in Boston. I am a quality UK SOLO!

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