Making the Most of Solosez

In a response to my last post, the Underground Solo Railroad, a reader wrote asking for advice on the best way to manage Solosez, the ABA Solo listserve that’s now grown to 3500 members.  Without a doubt, the listserve generates over one hundred messages daily.  Though I joined the group when it stood at a much more manageable 700 or so members, it’s still possible to use Solosez to find a gateway to the Underground Solo Railroad – that informal network of solos who exchange practice tips and information and how-tos and “where can  finds?” – that I discussed in my last post.

1.  Put A System in Place Three years ago, when Solosez was much smaller, I linked to
this post by Oklahoma PMA Jim Calloway on using Gmail as a tool for managing Solosez.  Jim recommended setting up a Gmail account dedicated specifically to Solosez mail as an easy way to segregate solosez messages from other incoming mail and also as a mechanism to archive and search through older messages.

Even if you don’t set up a separate email account for Solosez, by all means, create a folder for Solosez emails in your existing system, or the email will overrun your box.

2.  Read the Solosez Rules Having been around for a decade, Solosez has generated a long list of Administrivia that explains to users everything from permissible topics to protocol for making introductions.  Even if stringent rules are a turn off to you (and they are to me), recognize that rules are a necessary evil for a list of this size.  So read the rules and follow them because failing to do so will make you less than welcome.

3. Take Advantage of Introducing Yourself Make the most of your introduction to the list – after all, where else do you find a receptive audience of 3500?  Include descriptive information about your status and location n the subject line of your introduction – e.g., “Intro from a Brand New Lawyer in New York City” or “Intro from Former Employment Law Biglaw Parter at XYZ Law Firm.”  Most Solosez members read posts selectively, so by giving details in your intro, you’ll automatically flag people who may be interested in getting to know you.

In addition, be sure to include a descriptive signature line, with your name, contact information and jurisdictions where barred so that people who want to get in touch with you quickly can track you down.

4.  Follow and Participate in Topics of Interest – You can’t possibly read every message that comes across Solosez and still get work done.  So skim through subject headings, and follow and contribute to those conversations where you have something to offer.  Even if you’re a new attorney and don’t know anything, you can surely offer advice on WC (Water Cooler) topics like finding the best vacuum cleaner or travelling with teenagers.  Sure, these questions have nothing to do with your legal skills, but they’re a way of sharing personally, and lay the foundations for offline relationships.

5.  Reach Out Off the List Ultimately, Solosez won’t have any value to you unless you find ways to break off from the group of 3500 and start your own conversations.  So after you’ve participated a while, make a point of introducing yourself with a personal email to others on the list.  Perhaps there’s another lawyer who shares your background – why not send an offline email and introduce yourself.  Or perhaps there are a couple of lawyers who regularly offer particularly sage advice.  Why not contact them and let them know and start a conversation that way?

Many Solosezzers in various cities have started offline lunch events to get together in person.  The DC and Boston contingents meet monthly, for example.  If your city or area doesn’t have a monthly lunch event, why not put one together yourself?   It’s a great way to start building relationships with other lawyers who you know through the group.

On the one hand, Solosez is the main line of the Underground Solo Railroad, a central point where lawyers share advice, revel in each others’ successes and comfort each other after a bad day.  But if Solosez is merely the main line – there are also dozens of arteries — the meet-ups and alignments and relationships that take place off the main list and in many ways, are the more enjoyable and productive part of the journey.

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