Close to midnight six years ago, I pushed a button and with this post, launched MyShingle into cyberspace. I didn’t have a grand plan or scheme — to be honest, I hardly qualified to write a blog about solo and small firm practice. Back in 2002, Foonberg dominated solo-land as the only game in town with his one-size fits all eponymous rules on how to start a law practice. Moreover, I didn’t fit the mold of a successful solo by any stretch of the imagination. I started my practice in 1993 not by choice but out of desperation. And by the time I started this blog, I’d given up my downtown office following the birth of my younger daughter and worked from a make-shift home office, forever scrambling to cram my energy regulatory law practice into the confines of my six and three year old daughters’ schedules.
Six years is a long time, even longer in Internet years. Blogging has gone commercial, viewed as much as a marketing tool as a means of self-expression. The world has also changed, and today, practicing law from home is so cutting edge cool that it’s been rebranded as virtual practice. And my world has changed; my little girls are independent nine and twelve year olds who can walk home from the bus stop on their own, manage their homework and even cook dinner.
But six years later, MyShingle remains. I’ve thought about stopping, was sure I would after Solo by Choice, but I how can I? As I wrote here, "more than any other incentive, imagining my audience inspires me to keep churning out copy, week after week, year after year." I’m drawn to the heroism of solos doing their job and the ever present possibilty for solo and small firm lawyers to truly soar. I also can’t stand to see the talent driven from our profession by those who feel they have no alternatives, and never thought for a second to consider starting a practice. Despite the often tough realities of life as a solo, I can’t help being a cheerleader (or whiny, irrational adolescent!) for hanging a shingle.
There’s another element that keeps me in the game as well. I’ve got a bird’s eye view of how the legal profession is changing at a time when we stand on the cusp of major transformation. And while some predict the end of lawyers, I believe emphatically that for us solos, this wll be our finest hour. Empowered by technology and liberated from the profession’s bias against the small fry, we solos will bloom.
In the coming weeks, you’ll see some changes at MyShingle including the relaunch of the ever popular the Bars, Reviewed and updates to our Online Guide. In honor of my birthday, I’m sponsoring a contest, and a challenge. For the contest, you have a choice of writing a blog post on one of two topics. The first is, "Why I Matter," explaining why or how you, as a solo or small firm lawyer have made a difference in the legal profession or lives of clients, or what your raison d’etre is for practicing law. The second is "How Technology Helps Me Serve Clients or Make A Difference," describing how technology has improved the quality of service that you provide to clients or helped you attain better results. By the way, the contest is only open to practicing solo and small firm lawyers (including those with contract law practices, of course) There’s a fabulous prize — an Asus subnotebook computer. (Why a computer? Because that’s all you need to change the world. However, I’m not going to pick a winner or ask you to vote for the winner. Instead, I’ll cull the top submissions (all of them, if it warrants) and pick the winner randomly from that group. As added incentive, bear in mind that I’ll post all of the qualifying essays along with your name and website or blog – and trust me, after six years, I’ve got better SEO than you could ever buy!
As for the second contest, it’s more light-hearted, I hope. In an information-saturated age, more and more we’re collecting data on the minutia of our experience. So I’m calling on all of you solo and small firm lawyers to pick a day between now and December 20 to Twitter the day away. Try to pick a day that’s typical for you as a solo or small firm lawyer, that shows how you balance your life, your cases and your clients. The prize here – a bottle of wine, to be selected from recommendations that I’ll solicit on Twitter. As with the essay submissions, I’ll post all "day in the life" Twitters with attribution. Email all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions due by December 23, 2008, with winners announced by January 2, 2009. If nothing meets my selection standards, I reserve the right not to choose a winner at all (but I doubt that will happen).
Thank you readers for these past six amazing years and to solo and small firm lawyers who make me proud to be a solo by choice.
By the way, if you’re new to this site, feel free to download my free ebooks, Inspiration for Lawyers and Social Networking for Lawyers.