Solos / Small Firms

Recent Law Grad's Lack of a Job Inspires Him to Create His Own by Going Solo

When Damon Chetson graduated from the University of North Carolina’s law school in May 2009 with $90,000 in educational debt and without a job, it didn’t take him long to find one.

By September of that year, he was operating his own solo criminal practice. Last year, he says, he made over $150,000.

“I don’t need a big copier, I don’t need a huge support staff to manage all my paperwork and I don’t need an expensive phone system,” the 37-year-old Chetson told “Basically I just need a laptop and cellphone, and I’m off and running.”

He exemplifies a growing trend in a difficult legal economy: The number of recent law graduates who opened their own small office grew from 3.5 percent in 2008 to 5.5 percent in 2009, according to the National Association for Law Placement. That’s the biggest annual increase since 1982, when the economy also was in a recession.

Chetson attracts most of his business from a website and uses Google Voice to manage his phone calls. He also maintains an online presence by blogging and being active on social networks.

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