August 31, 2011
Our featured attorney Phil Wormdahl lives life as The Edge. Not “life on the edge,” but as the guitar player of a U2 cover band. Then again, Phil also started his own practice after passing the bar just 2 years ago…so maybe he does live life on the edge. Below is more insight to Phil and his Small Law Lifestyle.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE?
I practice solely in criminal defense as a solo attorney, although I do some work with a criminal defense boutique, Brown, Bradshaw, and Moffat, that is in the same office. Being around them is a great asset to my practice because they have over 100 years of combined experience, exclusively in criminal defense.
HOW DID YOU BECOME A SOLO PRACTITIONER?
When I graduated in 2009, it was sort of at the beginning of the employment downturn. There were a lot of unemployed attorneys, which left me competing against more experienced attorneys when jobs opened back up. Originally, being self employed was just out of necessity. I had a choice- keep sending out resumes for as long as it takes, or just start practicing. And as far as being a solo-attorney, there is not really a big start up cost. Basically you get a research account, a website, an office…it’s pretty simple. You do not have to buy an x-ray machine to be an attorney. I thought, “Hey, I could give this a try.” Plus, I felt like I had developed a good network of attorneys to help me if I had questions.
And now, actually, it’s been going well, and I am having a lot of fun. I sort of realized I spoiled myself right out of the gate, and I do not think I could ever work for anybody now. It’s great to be my own boss, set my own hours, and choose my own clients. I can take pro bono cases when I want to take them, or I can help clients with services that are not explicitly included in the fee agreement and do not have to justify those types of decisions to anybody. It has been great.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH THE U2 COVER BAND?
Well, I’ve been playing music most of my life. When I was younger I never planned on going to college in hopes of making a career out of being a professional musician. However, I ended up going to college, out of boredom, and back again for law school, thinking I might be able to do entertainment law.
I figured the huge time commitment of law school would make playing in a band impossible, but it was in law school that, interestingly, I fell into the U2 gig. It wasn’t something I was looking for. It kind of found me. An established band needed a substitute guitar player for a gig and I was recommended to the booker by a friend of a friend. The gig was perfect for me because when I was learning the guitar, I was learning from U2 songs. I thought The Edge was a great guitar player and that was the stuff that I was interested in. The gig turned out to not be a time eater because I already knew the material, and all I had to do was show up and play the gig. That was it. Since then, it has really just kind of ballooned. I became a regular player in the band and have subbed into other groups as well.
Most recently, I spent 2 weeks in Iraq playing for the military. It was a life changing experience, one of the most unique and educational experiences in my life. We did five or six shows all over the country- I even got to fly in a Black Hawk.
HOW DO YOU USE WESTLAWNEXT?
When I got my iPad a couple of months ago, I thought I wanted to make my office as paperless as possible. I found the Westlaw Next app for the iPad, and have actually found it to be really good. In particular, the ability to just type something in and instantly get presented with the most relevant results is great. When I use my iPad it is because I want quick, reliable information, not because I am writing a comprehensive memo. If I am in court and a prosecutor says something that doesn’t sound right, I pull out my iPad and get what I need on there. More often than not, I am presented with the information quickly and I have just what I want at my fingertips. That’s important when I am on the go, so I use that quite a bit. And, I really enjoy how clean and quick the interface is. You just search and you’ve got everything you need right there. Even answers to very specific search terms.
You can learn more about Phil and his law firm by checking out his website.
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