30 Days
By As Told To Ellen McGirt

(MONEY Magazine) – K. Clyde Vanel

AGE 29 HOMETOWN Queens, N.Y. WHAT HE DID Left his $175,000-a-year job as a corporate attorney to open his own one-man law firm. Yes, in this economy.

A legal leap of faith: the first month

-- NEGOTIATED terms of my departure and a three-month severance package.

-- SURPRISE: no more dental. Got teeth cleaned before I left.

-- FORMALIZED my business entity with New York State, $135.

-- WENT SHOPPING for letterhead; decided to use a friendly mom-and-pop shop in my neighborhood. They promised business cards in five days. Total printing costs: $1,500.

-- NEGOTIATED a lease on my new space--130 square feet in a Manhattan office suite, with a shared conference room. Reduced my rent by 45% by accepting a longer lease.

-- DECIDED to save money by buying used furniture from businesses that were closing. Scoured the classifieds.

-- NEGOTIATED a cheaper rate for long-distance and Internet service at my new, empty office. Saved 10%.

-- WHERE are my business cards? Called to inquire; Mom and Pop not so friendly now.

-- VISITED two law firms that are going out of business to buy their furniture. Depressing. Kept shopping.

-- BUILT my own website in two weeks. (I learned from a book.) Web-hosting costs: $140 a year.

-- FOUND a great desk at a soon to be defunct airline-ticket reseller. But I need to pay union workers to run the elevator to move it out. One worker, evidently, pushes the button, and the other one holds the door open. That adds more than $500 to the cost of the discount desk. Forget it.

-- BOUGHT new furniture on the Internet; it will be delivered in a week. $1,500.

-- GOT my COBRA health insurance papers. I need to cut costs. Switched to basic cable, moved to a cheaper gym.

-- FURNITURE arrived. Unassembled. It took me a week to put it together; took client calls in my sweats.

-- NO BUSINESS CARDS! Mom and Pop act like I'm stalking them.

-- JUST discovered that there are exposed wires in my office. Ugly. Got a plant to hide them. $100.

-- BOUGHT laptop, four-in-one printer and my longtime office-supply dream, an automatic stapler. I've got nothing to staple yet, but I'm ready. Total cost: $2,300.

-- THE BIG EXPENSE: bronze lettering on the wall. Couldn't justify cost of the "The" or "P. C." in my official business name, The Vanel Law Firm P.C., so I left them off. $500.

-- STAPLER jammed. Ran to get a better model.

-- FLEW to Miami to pick up first client retainer. Plant is dying.

-- FIRM known I am competing with them. Severance revoked.

-- STILL no business cards. -- AS TOLD TO ELLEN McGIRT