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Solo & Small Law Firms

Ivy League Solos

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Whether you like Harvard Law School or not, you have to agree that virtually every HLS graduate can write their own ticket to whatever job they want.  So it’s gratifying to see that with so many career options, young HLS grads are still choosing solo practice, as reported in this article from the HLS Bulletin, The Coming Wave (11/5/06).  The article profiles  Luz Herrera and Eric Castelblanco, HLS grads who each opened solo practices to serve underserved, Hispanic communities.  From the article:

For both Castelblanco and Herrera, there was no road map for an Ivy-educated lawyer to start a viable law practice for low-income clients. “Traditionally, if you want to do public service, you are directed to apply for a Skadden fellowship, work for the government or go to a civil rights impact litigation organization,” said Herrera. “But for me, none of those options seemed like the right choice. I did not want to spend 90 percent of my time doing research or working in a direct-service organization whose approach I did not completely buy into. Working in my own law office allows me to provide legal services to individuals who may not otherwise have an attorney and tap into my entrepreneurial spirit while being an active member of the community.”

But before Herrera could help people navigate the legal system, she had to figure out the nuts and bolts of running a law practice, including how to set up a billing system–problems that a first-year associate at a major firm would never have to worry about. “The first year is very hard,” she said. “No one tells you how to set up a practice in law school.”

Now, Herrerra has taken a break from her practice and has joined the Community Enterprise Project at Hale & Dorr to develop a fellowship that will help law graduates learn how to start law practices in underserved communities (a project which sounds similar to the Law School Consortium).

  • You can see these stats & more by visiting the press room section of my website. . .
    – 1,116,967 licensed attorneys in the United States
    – 60% are solos or in firms with five attorneys or less.
    – There is a direct correlations between rainmaking skills and income. Lawyers who know how to make it rain earn more than the national average.
    Helping Lawyers Make ALOT More Money

  • elguapo

    For what it’s worth, I went to a top 5 law school and am now a solo practitioner. Most of my clients are working class people.

  • Back in the early 1990s when we were both at big firms, I had the honor of serving with Eric as a volunteer director of the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice ( During our service I was impressed with Eric and over the years my appreciation has only increased. Back then, I never would have predicted that a decade later Eric and I would both be in successful solo practices. For those big firm associates considering your options, Eric is further proof that you can have your cake (a successful practice) and eat it too (contributing to the community). To Eric I say: congratulations and continued success!

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