I hung out my own shingle from day one.
In my town (less than 75,000) the lawyers were prety collegial (unlike today virtually everywhere I am sad to say).
One guy down the street even gave me a key to his office so I could go in at night and read his law books, etc.)
The murder of a police officer case was assigned to me by the Judge. IF I recall correctly, I got about $3000.00 gross from the State for the whole shooting match. Multiple eyewitnesses, etc., he even sort of confessed, but was claiming that he was not the triggerman and didn't know the guy with the loaded shotgun next to him was actually going to shot the policeman, even tho he admitted the guy had said so. Got him mercy tho', at least that was something.
AS far as me though, I brought my younger brother into the firm about 5 years in, his son is a 3L and will propbably join the firm. Of course, like all law students, he thinks it would be cool to live and work in manhatten or miami or LA and get a $350,000 a year starting salary advising sports, movie, and rock stars about their image and the legal ramifications. We've got 3 lawyers and 7 support staff now.
Goign solo is tough. You eat what you kill. December is a stone B*TCH. Everybody wants to come in and ask you to do stuff, but nobody wants to pay a dime b/c they are spending every dime they have and maxing out their credit cards on Chirstmas gifts.
BUT if you LOVE the pressure and stress, are soemwhat gladatorial in nature, and can handle losing cases you didn't think you could lose (and getting wins you ddin't think you could get) there is no life like it.