Two years ago, My Shingle published the first ever Bar Review, a survey of what the state bars and the ABA offer in the way of resources and support for solo and small firm practitioners. We’re happy to announce that we’ve just issued a 2004 Bar Review that’s available in both PDF and HTML (PDF looks prettier for printing but the HTML version has working URLs to all of the resources).
Happily, many of the bars have been busy during the past two years adding even more resources for solo and small firm lawyers including online research services like Casemaker that come free with bar membership, listserves and mentor and support groups. While these benefits help solo and small firm lawyers more than our large firm colleagues, they’re worth the investment because they enable small firms to improve the quality of legal service that we provide to our clients. That in turn increases access to law and enhances the credibility of the justice system, thereby benefitting all lawyers. The ABA loses points this year for its solo offerings in light of its recent penny pinching decision to cut the Solo and Small Firm Standing Committee within the ABA.
Our Bar Review is also a stand alone resource for solo and small firm lawyers. Because we link to each bar’s resources, you can use our review to, for example, find a form retainer letter or an article on law practice management. Many of the state bar resources are open to non-members from other jurisdictions, so take a look around other state bar sites and see what they have to offer. Bear in mind, however, that if you take a sample form like a retainer letter used in a particular jurisdiction that you ought to check to ensure to your home bar’s rules. But our Guide makes that easy as well – because we link to each state bar’s Ethics Code (assuming that it’s available on line. Inexplicably, for example, the Ethics Code for Maryland one of the places where I’m licensed is not available to the public).
We welcome comments on our Bar Review and additional pointers on any information that we’ve missed. You won’t find this material anywhere else except at this site.