[#SERIES] Profession: Entrepreneur lawyer #1

Profession: Lawyer and businessman – The definition of his offer – #1

On the occasion of a series of several articles, Maître Chloé Schmidt-Sarels, user of Jarvis Legal, tells us about her vision of the lawyer, an entrepreneur above all. 

avocat entrepreneur

Presentation and introduction of Master Chloé Schmidt-Sarels.

After graduating from CAPA in 2012, I did not want to practice as a lawyer at all. So I started my professional career as the legal manager of a start-up company.

After a very enriching experience, a need for autonomy and a certain nostalgia for public law led me to settle down as a liberal lawyer.

But what to do? Having never been through the collaboration box, I still had this crazy idea to set up my own account.

The few internships I had done during my studies in Paris were far from what I expected as a new lawyer in a city that could be described as a judicial desert and within a very small bar (100 lawyers, 300 times less than in Paris: another world!).

No experience, no clientele, no network: was I going to be one of those lawyers who hang up the dress after a year?

To get out of it, I had to get out the oars and adopt a sort of entrepreneurial approach.

Even if this is tending to change, I regret that the term « entrepreneur » is not necessarily in the DNA of our profession.

However, it seems to be one of the secrets to the success of our older brothers and sisters. This is how Corinne Lepage responded to a journalist who asked her if she should manage her law firm like a business leader, that she did not know « how those who do not do it do it ».

This sentence clicked in my mind and guided me a bit.

This is why I am happy to be able to share my experience as an entrepreneurial lawyer.

I am therefore proposing a series of articles that I hope will help you succeed in your installation, whether or not you have been a collaborator.

I will share with you my state of mind and my state of mind, the way I have defined my offer, the communication levers, the management tools that make my daily life easier and the way I manage the financial and administrative part.

Defining your offer, the first essential step

You’ll see, the clients will choose you », « You’re going to have to take all the files that come in« , « You’re going to have to take all the files that come in ». These are the benevolent and/or worried comments that some of my colleagues have made to me.

In spite of my limited experience, I knew why I went to law school. I also knew what I couldn’t and especially didn’t want to do. It was out of the question for me to go into criminal, commercial, labour law.

I had not set up as an independent lawyer so that my clients could dictate my choices.

So I told myself that I would do everything to make sure that the cases I dealt with would suit me and that my activity would not be shaped by my clients but by me, in the service of my clients. So I decided, step by step.

The first questions to be asked are: « who am I and what drives me? what is my initial training? ».

Who am I? What drives me?

The idea of practicing in urban planning and environmental law quickly came to me.

Shortly before I moved to this small town located in a semi-rural area in the midst of massive urbanization, I had become very aware of the environment and had made a (nearly) zero waste shift in my daily life.

As lawyers, in all areas, we are lucky enough to be able to sometimes put ourselves at the service of causes (or people) that will give more meaning to our profession.

Each one of us necessarily has something that is close to our heart and that could give a particular color to at least part of our activity by allowing it to differentiate itself. By the way, this coherence is a good way to be happier every day and more efficient 🙂

What is my initial training? Do I need to deepen certain aspects?

Up to the master’s degree, we are all generalists. We specialize a little at the master’s level. Obviously, my training in general administrative law, followed 6 years earlier, would not be enough to allow me to practice in urban planning and environmental law.

As soon as I settled in, I therefore decided to train in rural law by taking a university degree and then to go further by taking a second master 2 in urban planning and environmental law.

These trainings gave me self-confidence, opened many doors and made me meet great people.

Differentiate yourself

A precise and specialized offer sets you apart. It will reassure you as much as it will reassure the customer.

The time of generalist lawyers is over. Increased competition and the growing technicality of many subjects simply no longer allow it.  Let’s not forget that the cases we accept involve our credibility and our responsibility towards the client.

Once the « dominant » for your firm’s activity has been defined, go further, detail it: by type of case (advisory or litigation), by type of client (companies, individuals, local authorities, associations…).

We are fortunate to be independent. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to choose the area that best suits us and that we are most interested in.

Of course, it will then be a question of making sure that your desire answers a request or a need! I will talk about it in my next article