‘Different times call for different lawyers’
There is so much that the emerging generation can achieve as sole practitioners, Dinesh Loganathan believes. Such success and purpose, however, will only come by taking the right approach to client management and network establishment.
Hobart-based practitioner Dinesh Loganathan (pictured) said that running his own firm has been in the back of his mind for some time now.
“I was fortunate enough to begin my career in a boutique law firm that was essentially a general practice which gave me experience in various areas of the law. This experience further enhanced my confidence and made me a versatile lawyer,” he recounted.
“Within two years of practice, I was offered the opportunity to become a Principal of the firm which also required me to learn the operational and administrative aspect of running a firm. There were always going to be two options for me, either take over the firm or move out on my own. I decided to move out on my own as the market in Tasmania is not as diverse as the mainland.”
Approach to newly established firm
Mr Loganathan is now the founder and director of Logan & Partners, whose tagline is: “Different times call for different lawyers”. He wants, he tells Lawyers Weekly, to provide legal services in ways that differ from what he sees as the traditional firm approach.
“Time costs and billable hours need to go,” he proclaimed.
“Many younger practitioners leave private practice for this very reason. I want to be a law firm that moves away from this and provides fixed fees where possible. I also aim to work together with other boutique firms and sole practitioners to create a referral network as it will make the profession cohesive.”
Setting up a suitable referral network was also paramount right off the bat, Mr Loganathan continued.
“One of the first things I did when I started up was to contact a number of sole practitioners and share my idea with them and everyone I contacted were more than happy to be part of this referral network,” he explained.
“I do not practice in the area of personal injuries, workers compensation or family law. So, when a client turns up asking for advice in these areas, I will be able to refer them to someone in my network and they will do the same as well.”
Understanding the market
It is an interesting time to run one’s own business in the Tasmanian market, he mused, given how much it has changed in recent years.
“The population has grown substantially and the influx of migrants coming to the State has really helped with the market. When I started practice, there were hardly any lawyers of a migrant background practicing in civil or criminal litigation. You can actually see much more of us in court now and that is a positive sign that the legal profession in Tasmania is supportive and adaptive to change,” he reflected.
“I do not think that where you are based will affect the decision to move out on your own. If you believe that you are ready and have the experience and confidence, then you should definitely make the move. You will find it much more rewarding.”
Ultimately, the professional services market is never going to be entirely favourable in venturing out, Mr Loganathan surmised.
“A law firm essentially is a business and just like any other business there will be associated risk. If you worry much about the risk, you will never be able to have the confidence to start out on your own. Law is a very unique profession in that there will always be a market,” he said.
Further to this, Mr Loganathan is under no illusions that it’ll be easy-going in the short-term. He is mentally prepared, he said, to bring work home in those difficult first few months.
“The biggest challenge will be to manage both the administrative and legal work. Just like every business, the rule is to keep your overheads low when starting up and as such you can’t afford admin support,” he detailed.
“The best advice I got from a colleague was to invest in a practice management software as it will reduce the amount of time spent on admin work and mainly, reduce the risk of you messing up your trust account!”
Such considerations may mean that younger practitioners have waning interest in running their own firms, in favour of joining bigger, established practices and working their way up to partnership.
“Most of them who I have interacted with are concerned about risks, challenges and mainly finance. These concerns are just and fair, but it comes down to the issue of being confident in yourself and your work,” he argued.
“If you believe that you can work hard and know that your clients will be more than satisfied with your service, then the work will find its way to you.
“Within a week of opening, I have had over 50 calls from friends and professional associates who have been sending me work. Have a good support network of senior practitioners that you can call and get advice from when you have an issue and you will be fine.”
Guidance for emerging lawyers
For those coming through the ranks, Mr Loganathan suggested that running one’s own firm is “much more fulfilling” than working one’s way up to partnership in a bigger practice.
“You can choose the work you want to do and operate the firm in a manner that you wish to,” he concluded.
“If you ever consider moving out on your own, have a chat with another sole practitioner, they will be more than happy to share their experience and guide you.”