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The Year Since Solo by Choice: How to Be The Lawyer You Always Wanted To Be

by Carolyn Elefant on February 19, 2009 · 5 comments

in Books, Solo Trends

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[Note- the tape cuts out at 50 seconds – music continues because I could not split the track]

It’s been a little over a year since the release of my book, www.aSolo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be.  My book, which was the first book on law practice in five years made is both a why to, on why lawyers should consider starting a solo practice, as well as a how to, as in how to leverage 21st century trends like alternative billing, outsourcing, technology and social media to build a successful practice.

Even as I was writing the book, which went to press around September 2007, I felt as if the foundation was constantly shifting underneath.  When I first created my proposal – sometime around my 40th birthday in 2004 — biglaw was booming and yet, so many associates were toiling unfulfilled.  I’d already seen too much talent (primarily women) exit the law, so I positioned my book not just as a guide for those who’d already embraced solo practice, but also for those who were searching for more fulfillment in law but who’d never seriously considering the option of starting a firm.  Now, a year later, with law firms dumping lawyers left and right, more lawyers are forced to evaluate other options, and fortuitously, my book is one of many resources now available to guide them.

But more than the big picture has changed since I wrote my book; little things have changed as well.  When I started my draft, stand alone PDAs like the Palm were all the rage, but now, smart phones, like Blackberry and iphone dominate.  I managed to incorporate that trend, and also (thanks to a smart insert from Rick Georges) make mention of the increasing growth of software as a service technologies, though when the book went to press, neither Rocketmatter, Clio or VLO Tech – today’s market leaders – had been formally launched.  Another game changer has been social-media, though I did manage to give a good discussion of this topic, as well as the ethics issue involved.  As for the 14 solos interviewed at the end of the book, some of have gone on to enormous success, while a few others have since decided solo practice wasn’t for them.

Since the book’s release, I’ve been gratified by the positive feedback from readers and the opportunities for speaking engagements that the book has brought me.  At the same time, the more things change, the more they remain the same.  I had to send my own law school (that would be Cornell) a copy of my book three times, and never received a thank you.  As far as I know, the placement office does not even stock a copy.  Though my book received some good press coverage, the bar magazine for DC refuses to review it, preferring instead to cover historic tomes instead.

I also learned that writing a book is hard, really hard.  It’s not just a matter of pasting together a compilation of blog posts – there’s pacing and organization and proofing (and that could have been improved).  At a time when we find so much value in the 140 character spurts at Twitter, I wonder whether books themselves are becoming obsolete.

In the acknowlegement of my book, I wrote that I above all, I remain a practicing lawyer, a solo by choice.  My book has given me opportunities to leave the law, yet here I stay, working alongside the hundreds and thousands of dedicated solo and small firm lawyers who form the core of our justice system, serving clients day in and day out.  Trends may come and go, but that the importance of solo and small firm lawyers to our legal system..that won’t ever change.

  • http://www.fathermuskrat.com the muskrat

    I’m going solo in 2 months and can’t wait. Thanks for your blog…now I just need to get the book!

  • http://www.fathermuskrat.com the muskrat

    I’m going solo in 2 months and can’t wait. Thanks for your blog…now I just need to get the book!

  • Pingback: “No One Told You That Solo Practice Was Going To Be Like This” | Koehler Law()

  • Philliesnut

    For me, the choice in going solo thirty years ago right out of law school was a no brainer. I have no desire to work on behalf of the Fortune 500 and other multinational companies whose business models consist of the systematic fleecing of the populace. I have a friend who is a partner at Skadden and who just spent the last 3 months drafting a new “fleecing agreement” for consumers on behalf of one of the big wireless concerns. I will take my measly moderate 6 figures and be able to live with myself. At the end of the day I will be able to say that I helped people with real problems as opposed to enabling corporations to accumlate more power and capital.

  • Pingback: Flying Solo: The Nuts & Bolts of Building a Solo Law Practice « "In Plain English"()

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