The way I like to tell it, I started my own law firm back in 1993, because frankly, a big law firm wasn’t big enough. Not big enough for my ego which balked at doing the grunt research without the glamour of arguing the cases or meeting with clients. Not even big enough to fit two little words — my name — on the top line of the briefs or on the nameplate on the door.
Back then, I was a lawyer ahead of schedule. By starting my own law firm, I made partner before I turned thirty and became a business owner long before the dotcom boom of the late ’90s made entrepreneurship at once desirable and virtually mainstream. I was also one of the first law firms to recognize and harness the power of the Internet: my firm has had an email account since 1994 and with the upload of a law firm website (which I hand-coded myself) in 1995, I joined the the first generation of law firms on-line and in 2002, I was part of the first generation of lawyer-bloggers.
Blogging at MyShingle has given me a bird’s eye view of the changes that have been roaring through the legal profession and an opportunity to chronicle and speak on these trends. In 2008, I published Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be and in 2010, I co-authored a book with Nicole Black, Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier. In addition, I’m a frequent speaker at bar conferences and law firm events on social and small firm practice trends, the ethics of social media, the nuts and bolts of 21st century solo practice and the future of law.
Yet while I both chronicle and celebrate solo and small firm practice, at heart, I myself am practicing attorney and a proud solo by choice. Before starting my law firm in November 1993, I worked for several large or national law firms and a federal government agency. When I started my firm, I continued with energy regulatory work, a specialty that I’d developed through prior employment, but also took on court appointed criminal cases, employment cases (public and private sector), Section 1983 civil rights cases and commercial and civil litigation. Since the birth of my daughters in 1996 and 1999, I’ve focused my practice on energy work, including emerging renewable energy development, federal siting and eminent domain, appeals, and civil rights litigation. I strongly believe that we lawyers have an ethical obligation to provide pro bono services, so these days, you can find me handling a couple of foreclosure defense cases through Maryland’s Foreclosure Prevention Program . To learn more about my law practice, visit my website, Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant, the trade association that I co-founded and for which I serve as regulatory counsel Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition and my law firm blog, LOCE Offshore Wind and Wave Energy Blog.