My Shingle

Everything You Need to Know to Succeed As An Associate, You Can Learn From Solo Practice

by Carolyn Elefant on September 1, 2008 · 0 comments

in Articles, Biglaw Practice and Issues, MyShingle Solo

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As much as I love blogging about the nitty gritty aspects of solo practice — the how-tos, the marketing, overcoming your fears and all that good stuff, I’m just as interested in the role that solos play in the broader context of our profession and what other lawyers can learn from us and vice versa.  So that’s why my article in this month’s issue of The Complete Lawyer is one of my favorite pieces that I’ve written in a while.  Below are the opening paragraphs, with the link to the full article at the end:

If you’ve just read this [blog post's] title, you’re probably racking your brain trying to figure out what the heck a lowly solo practitioner like me can teach you about succeeding as a law firm associate.

You probably think that solos simply churn out form documents for simpleton clients who need help with run-of-the-mill problems like estate planning, divorce or landlord tenant matters, while law firm associates grapple with earth-shattering matters, sophisticated business clients and demanding law firm partners. And for goodness sakes, you’re billed out at an hourly rate that matches or exceeds what most solos charge. So what secrets of success can you possibly learn from us?

Plenty. But before we get started, you’ll have to dispel your negative impression of solo practitioners. First, though you may not realize it,  many solos handle complicated, traditionally “biglaw matters” such as tax, corporate transactional work, regulatory and complex litigation. Even solos with consumer-oriented specialties like criminal law, consumer credit, bankruptcy or family law regularly encounter constitutional issues or dissect tricky federal and state statutes. And while solos may charge less than a biglaw associate, because of lean staffing and low overhead, they also pocket a larger percentage (as much as 80%) of that $300/hr billable than you do.

Solos also oversee office administration, manage employees or virtual staff, and constantly market their practices. Once you begin to view solos not as loser-lawyers who couldn’t cut it in biglaw practice but as a blend of independent lawyer, team manager and entrepreneur, you’ll appreciate how solos’ secrets of success can help you succeed as well.

Continue reading here – and let me know in the comments below if there’s anything else that lawyers can learn from us solos.

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