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Solo & Small Law Firms

Do Ethics Committees Pick On Solos? Yes, yes and yes!

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Back in February 2003, when MyShingle was still in its infancy, I wrote this blockbuster post, entitled The Bar’s Dirty Little Not So Secret Secret, which offers some powerful evidence to demonstrate that solo and small firm lawyers are the targets of disciplinary actions far more than our large firm counterparts. Apparently, the disparity between large and small firm treatment remains an issue four years later; it was the topic of a bar panel discussion at last week’s ABA conference, with some great follow up commentary here at Susan Cartier Liebel’sHow to Build A Solo Practice blog.

Take a look at my earlier post which summarizes my own reaction to the panel discussion better than I’m able to do at the moment.

  • Back when I was a Practice Management Advisor with The Florida Bar’s Law Office Management Assistance Service I had the opportunity to become involved in the disciplinary proceedings concerning many dozens of lawyers.
    More specifically, when the disciplinary committee determined a violation of Bar Rules had occurred but believed the violation emanated from poor office management practices (as is the case in a full 54% of Bar Disciplinary Cases in Florida)I was often asked by the Bar to go out into the field and conduct a review, analysis, audit and provide a report with recommendations. Accordingly, in my relatively brief career spanning back only 10 years, I have probably crawled through the innards of more small law firms than perhaps any other lawyer alive today.
    And here’s what I’ve found. . . The Bar DOES in fact discipline more solos than it does lawyers in larger firms. But there are some perfectly innocent reasons for this statistical reality:
    First of all, contrary to what everyone apparently thinks, solos make up a 6:1 majority when compared to lawyers in large & medium firms (see the “Press Room” on my site for exact numbers). So it should come as no surprise that most disciplinary cases involve solos.
    Secondly, consider that fully 54% of Bar disciplinary cases find their roots in poor law office management practices & procedures. Now factor-in the fact that large & medium sized firms are usually managed by professionally trained administrators (see to get an idea of what I mean). These professionally-trained law firm business managers are very often able to prevent or resolve the kinds of problems that cause disciplinary problems in the first place – how may courses does the average solo have the chance to take in law school about how to manage the business of a law firm?!!?
    Thirdly, from what I have seen first-hand and heard about anecdotally in many hundreds more cases from fellow PMA’s from around the Country, a huge percentage of disciplinary problems trace their roots to poor Rainmaking Skills. Most larger law firms by comparison, got that way and are able to stay that way because of a few skilled Rainmakers who know how to make it rain without inadvertently creating the kinds of problems that lead to disciplinary trouble for so many solos.
    Helping Lawyers In Small Law Firms Make ALOT More Money (and avoid disciplinary problems)

  • Spamhater

    You gotta be kidding me Rjon.

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