Ironically, one of the greatest benefits of starting a law firm – being able to work alone – may actually be one of the greatest hazards of solo practices, as this Q&A from the Massachusetts Bar Association website points out (thanks to my fellow blogger David Giacalone for sending this article my way). Here’s what the post says in response to a concern from a solo practitioner about a lack of motivation and “practice blahs:”
You are describing a problem very common to sole practitioners, who must be their own primary source of motivation and discipline on a daily, ongoing basis. Persisting in that way is difficult for anyone, maybe more so for lawyers like yourself who may enjoy interacting with others. The problem that you describe may, in fact, be attributable to the relative isolation common to sole practice. Other practice venues, such as law firms and corporate offices, offer not only accountability but also at least some collegial and social contact[…]In some cases it may also be possible to establish some kind of collegial arrangement to hold each other accountable for timely completion of tasks. Though some work better alone than others, we are all fundamentally interdependent beings, and may derive a boost from such non-adversarial affiliations.
I have to admit that I’m a little bit of a recluse by nature – you know, the kid on the playground reading a book in the corner instead of socializing, the person who likes seeing movies alone and can’t stand attending the firm Christmas party. But even I need interaction every once in a while. My own personal boost comes from the monthly solosez lunches we have here in D.C. (though Lex Think was a great rejuvenator too). The solosez lunches are held at a restaurant rather than a sterile bar conference space and everyone pays their own way, so if it’s a slow month, you can still attend for the price of a cup of coffee. Though I only get around to the lunches every few months, there are always old friends to catch up with and new people to meet. We trade gossip, war stories and practice tips and we go around with introductions at the beginning so everyone knows who everyone else is without the awkwardness of asking. But sometimes, even if I’m swamped with work and tired of being alone in my office, it helps to work at the library or a coffee house (I know of several with free wireless) just for a change of scenery. These are just some of the tips that I discussed in my chapter “How Not to Be Lonely” for the upcoming edition of the ABA’s Book, Flying Solo,