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Venturing out…how to start (and succeed) in building your own Elder Law practice

Nancie Dorjath is not new to elder law, or even to helping seniors. She grew up in a part of Chicago where living in multi-generational homes and being raised by grandparents was commonplace, and where helping seniors in the neighborhood was a natural part of the day.
When Nancie graduated from law school, she began her career in estate planning, as she enjoyed listening to clients regarding their needs and then developing the appropriate documents to accomplish their goals. About 10 years ago she transitioned into practicing elder law, and has never looked back. The joy for her is in helping seniors and making a difference in their lives.
A little over 2 months ago, Nancie decided to strike out on her own. A large part of this decision was realizing that she could be effective and reach her goals with the support she found with ElderCounsel, both in terms of document drafting as well as with in-depth practice development tools. She quickly joined ElderCounsel and began to implement the Office Management strategies and processes provided.
One of the steps Nancie took that she describes as crucial for her to feel confident in practicing in Elder Law is participating in the Elder Law Immersion Camp. Although a long time elder law attorney, what Nancie had noticed is that the laws continue to change, and that a strategy that worked 5 years may no longer be viable. The Immersion Camp helped her to stay up to date with new strategies to help her clients. As she describes, “Tools change, and sometimes what is needed is to think outside the box. We need to let seniors know that there are benefits out there, and that we can still accomplish what we need to accomplish.”
Another related aspect of the Immersion Camp is the collegiality she experienced. When she arrived, she didn’t know any of the other participants. However she left with 3 close new peers, all in a very similar stage of opening their practices. This group has stayed in touch with each other to support each other through the excitement (and challenges) of opening a new firm.
Finally, one other tool that Nancie recommends for attorneys venturing out on their own is to have a business plan in place. The challenges of leaving the comfort of a regular paycheck and routine can be mitigated with a clear path to the goals you are looking to achieve. Do you know what type of income you need for the year? How does this break down in terms of what you are charging and how many clients you need to serve in order to attain your projections? Is your approach feasible? As Nancie remarks, “Creating a business plan and attending to the business side of things can be as important- if not more so- than handling the legal aspects of your business.”
Nancie cites the ElderCounsel Practice Development quarterly meeting and personalized plan as a tool that really helps her stay on track with her goals. She feels that this tool has provided her a way to stay accountable. She believes it is like having a personal coach and a roadmap to follow. “Having a clear path and all the support to meet your milestones makes all the difference in achieving your goals,” Nancie states.
In the end, Nancie definitely believes the challenges of opening one’s own elder law practice are well worth it. Her advice? Take the leap of faith.  While the path can be challenging, it is a good challenge. We hope this interview with one of our members inspires you to consider what you hope to achieve this year in your practice.
ElderCounsel offers you the tools - including education, document drafting software, practice development systems and support- so you can reach your practice goals. For more information, please schedule a brief consultation, call us at (888) 789-9908, or email us at info@eldercounsel.com.

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