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5 reasons why starting a law firm is a lot like internet dating

Launching my own firm has proven to be quite the adventure, reminiscent of another journey I’ve embarked upon at various points in my life: the wild ride that is internet dating, writes Emma Jervis.

user iconEmma Jervis 09 May 2024 SME Law
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A couple of months ago, I buckled in for the wild ride that is launching your own law firm. Like a real-life roller-coaster, it has had ups and downs, twists and turns, and moments where I just wanted to get off.

When I flipped the switch on my (digital) “open for business” sign, I held onto romantic notions of what owning my own firm would entail. Heck, I even named my firm after one of my favourite flowers. I envisioned sunlight streaming into a beautiful office adorned with floral artworks, a queue of clients I adored eagerly signing on the dotted line, and substantial deposits magically appearing in my firm’s bank account.

The reality, however, has been far less romantic.


Launching my own firm has proven to be quite the adventure, reminiscent of another journey I’ve embarked upon at various points in my life: the wild ride that is internet dating. If you’ve considered setting up on your own or just wondered what it’s like and also internet-dated, then allow me to assist you get a better understanding of what the “opening your own firm” path may look like. Here are five reasons why starting your own firm is akin to internet dating:

  1. You need a pretty profile pic
The internet told me in no uncertain terms that if I was going to go out on my own, it was all about personal branding. Clients connect with the person, not the firm, etcetera, etcetera. In real life, my personal brand is that of a sarcastic suburban mum who usually has some tomato sauce somewhere on her (Anko-branded) T-shirt. But I knew that wouldn’t do for a law firm (or a dating profile pic, for that matter). So, I decided to invest in a professional photographer. With a new outfit and a few camera clicks, I managed to capture a photo where I looked approachable and polished. And the best part? Not a single drop of tomato sauce in sight!

  1. All aboard for some crippling self-doubt
Despite my nearly two-decade tenure as a lawyer and consistently being a high achiever, launching my own firm hasn’t been immune to moments of self-doubt. It’s almost amusing, isn’t it? Even with clients actively seeking me out because they want to work exclusively with me, those nagging doubts still manage to find their way into the picture. It’s akin to the “am I good enough” jitters I used to experience before a first date during my internet dating days. Those moments of uncertainty seem to be par for the course when navigating new territory. I’ve heard that it’s normal. Please tell me that it’s normal.

  1. Girl gotta put herself out there
I’m not a “natural” networker. But apparently, now that I own my own firm, I am. Because I have to be. Being an introvert, I dread networking events and, well, anything with a crowd really. But just like with internet dating, I’ve had to learn to embrace the uncomfortable, smile, and socialise with my industry peers.

  1. A cheer squad is essential
In my late 20s, if I was going on a date, you bet your bottom dollar every single one of my girlfriends knew about it. And every single one of my girlfriends wished me luck before reminding me I was awesome and any man would be so lucky. Having a personal cheer squad helped bolster my confidence in the dating scene, just as it has in launching my own firm. I was genuinely touched by the outpouring of support from well-known lawyers in my (admittedly niche) practice area when I launched. They reached out to wish me luck and offer a second opinion if I ever needed one. It was incredibly heartwarming and made those moments of self-doubt feel a little less daunting.

  1. You gotta keep the faith
Just like navigating the unpredictable world of internet dating, I embarked on this wild ride with a destination in mind. Through all the twists, turns and self-doubt, I have to keep reminding myself of that. The boutique practice in a charming office with lots of floral artworks adorning the walls will come. The bevy of clients I love working with will engage me, and those sizable deposits into my firm’s bank account will follow.

Until then, I’ve just gotta hold on, keep swiping right on opportunities, and try to enjoy the ride.

Emma Jervis is the founder of Magnolia Legal.