Accounting for Law

Resist pressure to take on all files when starting law firm

When starting your own law practice, it can be tempting to take on any work that comes your way — but it is a better idea to stick to your guns and not try to be all things to all people, Toronto tax litigation lawyer David J. Rotfleisch tells Lawyers Weekly

“When I went out on my own, people said, ‘you won’t get to do what you want to do. You’ll do whatever work comes in the door.’ I said, ‘no I won’t,’” says Rotfleisch, founding tax lawyer at Rotfleisch & Samulovitch Professional Corporation, which now employs seven people.

While Rotfleisch tells Lawyers Weekly that he certainly felt the financial pressure when starting out, he didn’t give in when a real estate transaction came his way. He referred it out, and says he is glad he did. 

“On the face of it, it looked like a simple transaction but it was a problem deal. If I had done it on my own, I probably would have gotten into trouble and could have been sued. I certainly would have needed assistance. It had the potential of leading to malpractice and negligence,” he says in the article.

With a background in computers in university, Rotfleisch also says he quickly made up his mind to be an early adopter of technology, using a time and billing program when most lawyers were still doing manual dockets. Instead of getting a bookkeeper to input his dockets from summary sheets and write up a bill manually, the software did it for him.

“I would see other sole practitioners using manual systems. It was a nightmare and they were behind on their billings,” he says in the article.

He also recalls articling when lawyers used central word processing to create documents.

“You had a pool of secretaries or typists with massive word processors. You would write something out or dictate it and they would type it up. You’d make changes and send it back again. The PC hadn’t come into its own yet,” he says.

“There are a lot of Luddites in the profession historically. To me, computers were the way to go,” adds Rotfleisch.

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