Recent TU Law graduate Sara M. Schmook (’12) talks about how she made the decision to open her own firm after law school.
After graduation and the grueling journey through bar preparation and the Oklahoma bar exam I found that I was more exhausted than I had been while juggling my responsibilities during law school. Ironically, I also realized that I was unsatisfied by 8 to 10 hours of daily focus on the sole agenda of passing the bar. I actually missed my hectic schedule. That epiphany and the lack of job opportunities available in the current economic market led me to the decision to open my own law firm.
As a Certified Public Accountant I had worked in international accounting for over ten years prior to attending law school. My parents are small business owners self employed in the commercial real estate appraisal field for over thirty years. I am also the mother of an active nine year old daughter and the Treasurer at her school for the Marquette Home & School Association. Three years of law school filled with classes, organizational meetings, internships and studying, required me to master the skills of time management in order to succeed as a law student and mother. I soon realized that all of these experiences were pointing me in the same direction—to open my own law firm.
Choosing a business entity, obtaining malpractice insurance, opening bank accounts and establishing my accounting system for the new firm were easily achieved given my background in small and large business settings. I also attended the OBA’s free seminar on starting your own law firm which was filled with valuable information on how to get started in this profession. The seminar offered tips and information that would have taken me much longer to research on my own. I highly recommend anyone considering opening their own law firm to attend this seminar.
I feel my greatest challenge has been in developing cost effective marketing plans to get my name out to the public and generate clients. I had business cards printed and hand them out at every opportunity. I joined the TCBA and I am on the lawyer referral list. I attend alumnae functions for my undergraduate alma mater and my college sorority. I continue to volunteer at my daughter’s school and also attend her extra-curricular activities. Most of these activities have been part of my life for many years, but since starting my own firm I have realized that they all offer potential networking opportunities. Clients cannot hire you if you don’t let them know you are a lawyer and available to counsel them.
It is my goal to offer my clients legal services in the areas of business formations and transactions, contract review, estate planning, probate and family law. As a CPA I am able to offer my clients the unique opportunity to hire an attorney who is also knowledgeable about smart financial decisions in today’s difficult economic times.
As I continue with the next chapter of my career, I know that the flexibility of being my own boss and the rewards of owning my business are a reality built upon my past experiences and I look forward to what my future holds.
Sara M. Schmook, JD, CPA
The Schmook Law Firm, PLLC