In this month’s column, I’ll be interviewing Minneapolis superstar criminal defense attorney Jill A. Brisbois. Jill isn’t just a fan of the On Your Own series, she’s a member. Jill opened her own law firm earlier this year, The JAB Firm. Journalistic integrity disclaimer – Jill is also my significant other.
JS: Can you be interesting and funny?
JAB: I’m always interesting and funny.
JS: How old are you now and are you happy with the timing of opening your own firm?
JAB: Forty-three years old. I am. I was raising a son as a single parent for most of my professional life, so I was hesitant to take risks that would have made that aspect of our lives even more challenging. When I made the move this year, I felt that I was in a position to be financially stable but also had built up a strong enough referral network to make my own practice viable.
JS: Aside from the financial risk, what was the scariest aspect of starting your own firm?
JAB: The most intimidating part was business startup. I knew how to practice law, so I didn’t have any major concerns in that regard, though I planned to begin my practice without support staff to keep overhead low. I knew that would be a learning experience. Still, I really had no idea about taxes, business accounts, managing a website, etc.
JS: What did you do to tackle the unknown on the business side? What are some resources you went to?
JAB: Other lawyers were key. One in particular had just started a similar firm of her own, so she walked me through each of the steps she had just taken. I also read several online articles. Ultimately, that helped me to sit down and make a checklist of each step I needed to take. I focused on checking off one box at a time, and it became manageable quickly.
JS: What’s been the most difficult part of running your own law firm?
JAB: I came from places where I always had a bunch of great colleagues. At this point, while I’m still growing my team, I don’t have the same day-to-day comradery that has always been a part of my professional life.
JS: What has been the most surprising part of starting your own law firm?
JAB: Truthfully, the quick success. Many people I already knew seemed more inclined to send me referrals or bring me in as co-counsel once I opened my own shop. The referrals came so quickly that I’ve already hired my first employee and brought on a contract attorney to assist me with my cases.