Today we’re continuing with the latest installment in our series connecting with attorneys from the Rocket Lawyer On Call® network. As we’ve done with our last profile, we’re meeting with attorneys in our network to discuss how they’ve made the most of their practice. Read on!
For attorney Brian J. Stephenson life is, in part, about living your passion and sharing it with others. And, by all accounts, Stephenson has been very successful on both of those accounts. In part, that’s because he’s found a number of creative ways to marry his work and his interests together.
By day, he works as a successful litigator traveling between courthouses throughout Illinois and Indiana. While his background includes work as a criminal defense attorney and a criminal prosecutor, his main “specialty” is in litigation of all types. “I’ve tried just about every type of case–criminal and civil,” says Stephenson. It’s a practice that suits his skill set: “I really know how to try cases. If I show up in Court against you, you better settle or be ready for trial. And, if we go to trial, you better know the rules of evidence or I’ll shut you down.”
While some attorneys find litigation nerve wracking, much of the work suits his personality. Indeed, Stephenson savors the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. After all, by night he pursues his other passion: standup comedy. It’s something he’s been doing for “a really, really long time” that he loves: “I get to go out there and tell jokes. And it’s cool because it’s not something everyone does.” Not only that, Stephenson shares his passion with others. For example, he’s involved in (and even founded) a number of groups that involve performing stand up comedy for charitable purposes. He hosts and performs at fundraisers for good causes; he teaches standup comedy to kids on probation as part of a Court-approved program; and he organizes an event called “The Best Medicine” that offers free comedy to patients at local hospitals.
But it would be a mistake to think that Stephenson doesn’t devote a LOT of time to his practice: “I get a case a day. I am beyond jammed.” Still, working in solo practice allows him to set his own schedule: “Working for yourself, you can leave when you want.”
Although he’s constantly juggling his many activities, it’s the only way he could live. Stephenson explains: “I still have passion and that is what life’s about. It’s not about making a lot of money. It’s about dancing to your own tune.”
It’s a life that would be complicated if Stephenson worked for Big Law. Indeed, working as a solo practitioner has provided him the flexibility he needs to fully enjoy these activities. When asked if he thought he could pursue standup comedy if he worked for a big firm, Stephenson said: “You could do it, but it wouldn’t be the same. I need the flexibility.”
For newly solo attorneys or other attorneys considering the solo route, Stephenson had a number of points of good advice. First, follow your passion: “Too many people who are unhappy with their lives because they have no passion.” He also adds, “if you have a skill, if there is something you like to do, share it with other people.”
Second, he recommends that newly solo attorneys open themselves up to as much work as they can handle. “You do hit times where there is a lull. You should throw a large enough net that you’ll be able to make money.” For his part, he’s done that in a number of ways. He recommends signing up as an attorney with your local bar association; joining lawyer’s groups; and generally developing areas of practice. Additionally, Rocket Lawyer’s On Call program “has been a big help for that.” He notes that he’s found a number of great cases that way, and, thankfully, “no nutcases.”
Do you follow your passion in addition to your practice? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section.