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Are You an Entrepreneurial Attorney?

By Mike O'Horo

Even though you went to law school and have spent your career so far practicing law, the truth is, you actually run your own small business—regardless of the size of your firm. And while you may like to think of your practice as a runs-itself enterprise, your long-term success depends on your ability to think and act as an entrepreneur (in between practicing law, that is). Take Mike O’Horo’s quiz to assess your entrepreneurial comfort level.  

What Do You Mean by “Entrepreneur?”

Let me ask, are you an entrepreneur? As lawyers are fond of saying, “It depends.” Okay then, first, what do we mean by the term? Here are definitions from various sources:

  • “… a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and accepts full responsibility for the inherent risks and the outcome of a product.”
  • “… an innovator who establishes a new business … strong beliefs about market opportunities … willingly accepts a high level of personal, professional and financial risk.”
  • “… the recognition and pursuit of opportunity without regard to the resources you currently control, with confidence that you can succeed, with the flexibility to change course as necessary, and with the will to rebound from setbacks.”

What do you think? From my perspective, looking at lawyers and law firms, it seems almost too easy to draw some conclusions about whether or not you are entrepreneurial. For example, I’d have a hard time calling most lawyers in large firms entrepreneurial. There, you are essentially an employee and your only real risk is getting fired, which is no different than with any other job. Granted, you do take emotional risks whenever you step outside to try to make a sale, but still. If you practice solo, on the other hand, it seems you have to inherently be an entrepreneur. It’s your capital, everything is at risk and you definitely have to set your own course.

But what of lawyers in law firms with five or 10 or 20 lawyers? Or 50? Is there really a bright line? Or is it all about individual lawyers and their personal approaches rather than firm size?

Here’s a short quiz, based on information from The Entrepreneurs Guild (yes, thankfully, there is such an animal), that will allow you to assess your own entrepreneurial tendencies.

The Entrepreneurial Attorney Quiz: Agree or Disagree?

While there are obviously shades of grey, for the purpose of this quiz just see if you mostly “agree” or “disagree” with the following statements:

  1. I’m great at and enjoy networking.
  2. I’m optimistic about positive, successful results.
  3. I need to do it my way.
  4. Results derive primarily from my own behavior and actions.
  5. I thrive on innovation.
  6. The most important thing is achieving the goal.
  7. I have a plan, and work my plan.
  8. I’m comfortable with change, ambiguity and uncertainty.
  9. I’m self-motivated.
  10. I’m a risk-taker.

If you found that you mostly disagreed with the quiz questions above, you should probably explore ways to become more comfortable with the behaviors of an entrepreneur. It makes a difference.

Categories: Business Development, Daily Dispatch, Legal Career Development
Originally published August 23, 2011
Last updated December 1, 2018
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Mike O’Horo Mike O'Horo

Known as “The Coach” throughout his long career, Mike O’Horo was a giant among his peers in legal marketing and business development. He trained more than 7,000 lawyers, simplifying powerful sales processes by which they generated $1.5 billion in new business. A serial innovator, earlier he developed RainmakerVT, a virtual BD training tool, and the sales training program ResultsPath. He wrote his column, “Well Said!,” on sales and business development truths for lawyers. Mike passed away in February 2022.

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