How I Practice-Soma Syed

Soma SyedSoma Syed
Law Office of Soma Syed
Forest Hills, NY

1. What are your areas of practice?

My areas of practice are general, with my expertise in residential and commercial real estate transactions, mortgage foreclosure defense, landlord and tenant, leases, financing, loan structuring, along with contracts litigation and bankruptcy. My other areas are non-profits law, matrimonial and family law, immigration and traffic. I like versatility and being able to handle multiple areas of the law.  

2. Describe a typical day for you? 

I have two types of typical day since I am both a transactional and litigation attorney. Typically, I have courts half the week. When I have courts, my day starts in the courthouse, checking emails, answering phone calls, and then office to work on assignments, letters, follow-up calls, and preparing for the next day and for the next week or so. When I do not have court, I come to the office to work on assignments with deadlines, call clients, attempt to set-up appointments with new leads, and try to stay focus on the business and client cases.

3. Where do you practice? Do you have a stand-alone office or home office?
My practice is in Forest Hills, a very busy notable commercial section in Queens, with easy access to Manhattan via car, subway, bus, and near to the courthouse in Queens. I have a stand-alone office but I often myself and everyday taking files home both weekdays and weekends.

4. What is the most rewarding thing about having your own practice?
I am an entrepreneur by default. I never thought I would have my shingle hung and stay practicing on my own. I was never sure if I wanted the big law life, government attorney life, or the public interest life.But I interned and took interests in all aspects of the areas. Somehow destiny had it set up for me this way. First my dad became ill the first summer of law school, which placed a severe emotional trauma on me. It was a miracle he lived another ficw years. Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer and lived 9 months before it became terminal, and that was my last year of law school. None of the dreams of aspiring to corner room of the big law office in a white-shoe law firm, or be the next Richard Brown of Queens County (he is the DA) mattered to me. It was her life and I lost part of me with her, and became directionless for many years. I hung my shingle because I did not know what else to do. Looking for a job and going through the motion of interviews were severely traumatizing. I do not know if I am glad, but I have become a woman of my own island. The most rewarding is the ability to hold clients’ hands, offer concrete solutions, see smiles on their faces, and knowing I have brought a change for them, their gratitude is the best reward.

5. What are some of the challenges about having your own practice?
It is the discipline of treating your law practice as a business, having the balance of a profession with the dynamics of a business, generating new leads and clients, billing, collection, and sometimes the deadlines. You are also limited by the way you can be creative. If I had worked in a big law firm, or with the government or a public interest, I may had the chance to do cutting edge legal work and be able to set precedents by reforming existing laws that do not make sense or are antiquated or violates the Constitution. It is the trade-off between the freedom to be enterprising and creative.  

6. What are your must-have tech tools/apps?
Email, Facebook, NYSBA website and communities.

7. How do you market your practice? How do you find new clients?
-When I first started, I had targeted newspaper AD in Bangla newspaper.  I speak Bangla and I am from the Bangladeshi community. Then I became an of counsel so I did not continue with the AD. Most of my clients come through referral, family, friends, networking events, other attorneys I know and meet at the bar association events, and sponsorship of events I do throughout the year.  

8. When and where do you interact with other attorneys?
I see them in the courthouse, bar association events, dinners, lunches, and CLE courses.  

9. How do you stay informed with legal news/developments?
I get online ABA and NYSBA newsletters. I also get print NYSBA Journal and the NYSBA Digests. I read online news, CLE classes, and other attorneys.

10. If a fellow attorney decided they wanted to start their own practice, what is the one thing they should know?
It is make sure you have thought about it deeply, know the ins and outs of having your own practice, and be willing to work alone and by yourself sometimes without the army of staff that you get at big and medium law firms.