My Shingle

CDLs Putting Us Other Solos to Shame

by Carolyn Elefant on December 29, 2010 · 1 comment

in Blogging, Criminal Law, Practice & Policy, MyShingle Solo

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For the second year in a row, Scott Greenfield is running a contest for the best criminal law blog post for 2010. Because I’ve been so busy these days, I only read a handful regularly – though I also visit posts with headlines that catch my eye or that friends highlight on Twitter or FB. So I’ve already seen many (but not all) of the fine submissions to Scott’s contest, though I don’t feel qualified to nominate any selections (but you definitely should).

Even if you don’t nominate anything, take a look at the submissions so far. Some of the posts are nostalgic or probing, others bleed with a sense of frustration or hopelessness, while others are wickedly funny. Reading these posts, I can’t help but envy the familiarity that these criminal defense bloggers have with their craft and the deft, breezy way that they can sketch out the issues and law. The posts betray an intimacy, a passion and many lawyers never find.

Many of the CDLs are also solos, and as such, some of the posts mentioned offer a peek inside the life of a solo or small firm lawyer who’s either learning his craft or sharing the lessons.
But not all solos are CDLs, and I got to wondering about where the soulful solo blogs are. The ones that write openly about the real challenges of getting a practice off the ground, or lyrically, about the thrill of that first client walking through the door or the agony of losing a case that should have been won, with terrible consequences. The kind of stuff that humanizes you to potential clients.

These days, most solo and small firm blogs (not talking about those on substantive topics – plenty of great ones there) are comprised of a bunch of practice management or marketing tidbits, full of help but short on heart. These days, the strictly solo blogs that touch me most are Peter Olson’s Solo in Chicago which is practical, yes, but grounded in his own experiences and Bruce Cameron’s lyrical Rural Lawyer. I know that there are more, particularly newer solo blogs that maybe haven’t yet found their sea-legs, but I haven’t seen them. Of course, I realize that blogging about starting a practice is a tough sell – after all, if you’re going to go through the trouble of blogging, you might as well spend your effort on showing your expertise in a practice area that will earn you money. But still, it would be nice for us solo and small firm lawyers to have our own genre.

So, I’ll leave you with this. First, if I’ve missed out on other terrific solo blogs written by solo or small firm lawyers, please send me the links below. Second, if you ever feel like writing a post – something honest and raw – about starting your firm or lessons learned or your failures or success – send it my way. I do not want marketing posts. I do not want pat little essays on “I started with nothing and six months later I was on my way.” No cotton candy sweet stuff that dissolves from your memory 20 seconds after reading it. I what the kinds of posts that stick in your mind, months and years later. Like every one of these.

  • Bruce Godfrey

    A good story that wasn’t blogged, but deserved to be and might have been in a later era.

    A judge in Prince George’s County, Maryland discussed upon the event of his installation some years ago that in his practice as a private criminal defense attorney, a client was going to hire him but had not come up with the money.

    The client called the lawyer (now judge) on a Friday afternoon and said that he had the cash for the retainer, and wanted to know whether he should come down to the lawyer’s office to pay. The lawyer said no, that he should remain at his home and that the lawyer would to the client’s house to pick up the funds.

    The judge explained that his reasoning was that if the client left his home, there would be an array of liquor stores, lottery terminals, drug corners and other vices available between his home and the office, whereas if the client stayed in his home the temptations to drink, bet or smoke the retainer would be reduced. That risk avoidance justified locking the office and driving 20 miles.

    Most criminal defense attorneys understand and respect this story’s punch line intuitively.

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