My Shingle

Please, No More Solo Stereotypes

by Carolyn Elefant on October 31, 2011 · 1 comment

in Legal Profession Trends, MyShingle Solo

Print Friendly

It’s bad enough that Clifford Winston and Robert Crandall are receiving so much press for their book, Let’s Deregulate All the Lawyers . which I debunked in part in this last post. What’s even worse is that this crock of half-truths is now being used to revive the myths about solos as the untouchables of the legal profession – and one which I hoped to stamp out when I started my blog nearly nine years ago.

Here’s what the Atlantic Magazine’s coverage of Let’s Deregulate All the Lawyers had to say about solos:

That brings us to the mass market, the small town lawyers with shingles in their yards and the solo criminal defenders who schlep to court in a baggy suit carrying a worn down briefcase. Even though a lot of these attorneys aren’t necessarily making a Wall Street-level killing, their services are relatively expensive by the standards of most Americans.

Come on. Every year, I speak at five or six solo conferences to get outside the echo chamber that is the Internet, where everyone carries an ipad and converses on Twitter. I know that’s not the real world. Still, even at these conferences, the solo and small firm lawyers I meet are highly professional, interested in honing their craft and improving their practices and service to clients. They’re not at all like the stereotype of the solos described in this article.

Oh – and while we’re on the topic of stereotypes, here’s another one that peeves me: the mis-assumptions about newbie lawyers as slackers and old fogies as jaded luddites who don’t use technology and don’t care about their clients. In truth, both laziness and lack of curiosity are personality characteristics that cut across generations: there are young lawyers who will go to the ends of the earth of a client and older lawyers who employ technology far more seamlessly than their junior colleagues. We solos have enough trouble convincing the rest of the legal profession to stop the negative stereotypes. Stereotyping each other doesn’t help.

  • shg

    That there are lawyers who defy stereotypes doesn’t mean the stereotypes aren’t valid.  The reason unpleasant descriptions become stereotypes is that they comport with broad experience, not because they are absolute and apply to ever individual.

    The lesson isn’t to deny stereotypes, which helps no one, but to recognize them and work to change them.  No one is helped by denial, no matter how “peeving” it may be.

Previous post:

Next post: