My Shingle

September 2009

Lawyers: Fear Ye Not the Freeloader, for I Myself Have Been One

September 28, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

Surely you’re familiar with the freeloader, that ne’er do well who stands as an obstacle to change in the practice of law.   The freeloader is the reason why most lawyers won’t offer free consultations (those freeloading prospects just want advice, they don’t want to pay to hire me) or comp short phone calls (what happens […]

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Don’t Settle for Second Place When Starting Your Law Firm

September 25, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

As I’ve written here previously, I’m an ardent admirer of Michelle Obama, particularly her ability to make the seamless life seem so easy.   This upcoming book on the Obamas by Chris Anderson, which is intended to portray Mrs. Obama as an insolent, money-hungry shrew of a wife, makes me like her even more. Anderson’s book […]

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One False Move Can Cost You Your Practice…And How You Can Avoid It

September 22, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

This week’s news brings a couple of stories of solo and small firm lawyers who may not be practicing law much longer.  First up is Rochester, New York solo Melissa Mahler, who is the subject of  insider trading charges by the SEC.  Back in 2004, when Mahler worked as an associate at Nixon Peabody, she […]

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Self-Employed Lawyers Are Happiest

September 20, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on a recent Gallup Poll which showed that even in this recession, business owners outrank ten other occupations in overall well being.  The reasons aren’t surprising — they reflect the importance of freedom to choose the work you do and how you do it, say psychologists who commented […]

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WTF? Is Selling Resources for $29/Month!

September 16, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

A few weeks back, someone on one of my listserves inquired about a new site for solos, Go Solo, which bills itself as a "virtual law office center for solos."  Apparently tossed up in an effort to capitalize on the number of attorneys now considering solo practice in a weak job market, the site […]

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Can you find cash for your clients?

September 15, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

Are there cases that you’d avid to handle but your client can’t pay your fees?  Before you send the client packing, consider whether there are ways to cover the costs of the case. I’m not talking about litigation finance companies which can fund personal injury matters but come with their own set of perils.  However, […]

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Happy Double Digits to My Mira

September 15, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

A decade ago today, I gave birth to my second daughter and as it happened, my last child, Mira Justine Israel.  I remember wondering before she arrived whether I could possibly love her as much as her older sister.  But the second I held Mira in my arms, I discovered, as all parents do, that […]

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Should You Warn Your Client About Hacked Email Services?

September 14, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

After posting last night about the trade-off between confidentiality and client communication, I came across Joe Hodnicki’s post at the Law Librarian’s Blog about the rise of services like which enables users to buy a password to another anyone’s online email accounts like AOL, Yahoo, gmail or social networking sites like Facebook for one […]

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Client Confidentiality Is Paramount, But Communication Matters More

September 13, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

Back in the day when I started my law firm and handled court appointed criminal cases, my first meeting with my clients usually took place in the noisy, cramped holding cell behind the courtrooms.  On warm days especially, the cells teemed with waiting defendants and I’d have to yell my client’s name loudly so they’d […]

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Don’t Tarnish Your Fresh Start With A Rotten Ending

September 11, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

Opening a law firm by choice or by circumstance offers a chance at a fresh start.  However, it’s all too easy to tarnish that bright, shiny new beginning with a nasty ending at your former position.   That is what appears to have happened with Jim Driscoll’s departure from St. Louis law firm Brown & Crouppen, […]

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