UALR alum turns solo practice into steady career
June 29 - July 5, 2015
By Becca Bona
“I had never planned on being a lawyer,” says Daniel Webb from the 17th floor of the Regions Bank Building in downtown Little Rock. However, a year out from law school in the early 2000s, Webb was already opening a solo practice in the same office he now sits. “I think I am one of those people that by dumb luck found what they needed to be doing,” he says, smiling.
An Arkansas native, Webb attended Little Rock Central High School before opening the books at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). Choosing a double major in history and English, he wasn’t all that sure what he wanted to do with his life.
He was glad to be in school and generally enjoyed being a student. UALR offered the perfect environment for him to continue learning, as he says, “The professors were great and I got a good education. I really enjoyed that time in my life.”
When it came time for graduation, he still didn’t quite know which way to jump. Webb distinctly remembers someone asking him if he had given law school a thought. His reply was sharp – “I said no, I don’t like lawyers and I don’t want anything to do with that.” Two years later he had taken the LSAT and enrolled at the Bowen School of Law.
After the first test he found that he just might be cut out for law school after all. “I liked it and found it to be pleasant. … I was nervous on my first exam, but after that it was pretty smooth,” he says; of course, except for the bar exam, which he calls a “doozy.”
After law school, Webb worked for a firm for a year before setting off on his own. He remembers opening his doors – “I had one client and I still have that same client to this very day.”
Over the years, Webb has learned a thing or two about success as a solo practice lawyer. He says, “I think having a strong sense of empathy and a strong concern for what other people are dealing with,” which he considers extremely helpful and even necessary.
In law school, Webb wasn’t sure where his focus would be, but working on his own, he gets to dabble in all areas of the law. “You never know who’s walking in the door each day and what they’re going to need,” he says, listing off various areas he’s worked on, including social security and worker’s compensation, among others. He doesn’t work in bankruptcies, but he will do his best to connect someone with the right lawyer for what he calls, “a good fit.”
In terms of working with other lawyers around town, Webb is glad to have found a comradery in Little Rock. “It’s not a bunch of people trying to stab each other, it’s more of a helpful situation. I think the same extends to the courthouse. The judges are not out to get you, they’re out to solve the problem that you can’t solve in your office,” he explains.
Instead, Webb finds himself competing with technology rather than fellow lawyers. “When I got first started people were practicing law about the same way that they had for fifty years,” he says, “Now every different venue I practice in from social security to the different circuit court houses [has its own] way of uploading things and accessing files.”
Even though it can be a great headache, he keeps on pushing forward, and with great reason. “I think I found a good match for myself, and really, it has to do with helping people. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but that’s the most important attribute that a lawyer can have, is the desire to help people.”
For those young lawyers out there, Webb has some sage advice, starting with “Dress the part, and show up everyday.” He also believes it’s necessary to start slow if venturing out on your own. He is grateful to his wife who helped him in the beginning of his practice with a steady stream of income to fall back on while he built his practice up.
He says, “Start slow and keep your expenses down so you’re not immediately forced to come up with a certain amount of money each month to keep the doors open. Just slowly allow yourself to build into things that you’re comfortable with. And then raise your comfort level, your volume level, as you get more and more comfortable. Let your practice grow like a person does,” he says.
When not working, Webb likes to garden, read, and watch movies. He believes working out in the gym is the best stress reliever.
He must be on to something, as he’s still opening his doors daily to clients, new and old alike.