Join me and Mike Brennan — Lake County’s Virtual Attorney — as we discuss his practice, and how he uses technology to work in three states, all from a home office!
Mike Brennan, the “Virtual Attorney”, is a solo practitioner who is licensed in 3 states; Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. He is able to help clients from a wide geographic area due to his ability to work with clients “virtually” or through video or teleconferencing, as well as in person, if desired. Brennan specializes in transactional work; primarily estate and corporate work. His goal is to help people deconstruct complex ideas into processes and methods that work for them.
Brennan did not specifically dream of becoming an attorney from a young age but always wanted a job where he could help people. While in college, he realized that the law was a career path that would allow him to help people. Additionally, he grew up with a father who transitioned from being a teacher to owning his own company. This experience showed Brennan the possibility of starting a law practice straight out of law school.
Brennan specializes in estate planning; wills, trusts and powers of attorney as well as corporate matters including working with business owners. Brennan can meet with clients in person at his home office or at shared workplaces in various locations. Alternatively, Brennan conducts a great deal of business by teleconference or videoconference. These methods allow a great deal of accessibility and convenience for clients all over the upper Midwest.
Brennan’s law practice embraces technology and the internet for growing and running his business. His tools for his practice include his laptop, the cloud and Google Voice and can be used anywhere. He recommends being creative and partnering with such sites as UpCounsel as a way to connect with potential clients. Social media is also a vital method of reaching out to clients.
In addition to his practice, Brennan is also the author of “Solo Out of Law School” about the journey of starting his own practice. He wants the book to be a source of inspiration for those contemplating the move to a solo practice. Though a solo practice is not for everyone, such a choice may be right for those who prize their independence and more control over their work.
A crucial aspect for starting a practice is the “F word” or financing. Minimum funding in the early days of the practice is very important. This might be a loan, a spouse with a job or income to maintain the practice or even a second job for the practitioner. It is a given that an attorney will not make any money in the first months of starting his or her practice. Additionally, it is also necessary to have a “Plan B” for the worst-case scenario; that plan would probably be to get a job working for someone else.
Another important ingredient for the solo practitioner is the formation of a “Board of Directors”. Brennan considers such a Board to be a network of advisors. He recommends that solo practitioners surround themselves with successful people from a variety of backgrounds including law, finance and business. The very nature of a solo practice or business of any kind is that you may not have co-workers to bounce ideas off of; a network of advisors can fill that void.
Brennan enjoyed writing his book as a way of encouraging young attorneys who might consider a solo practice. He wants young attorneys to understand that starting their own law practice is a real option.