Handling Biglaw Practice Areas on a Budget

With many biglaw attorneys now considering solo practice, I wanted to list a couple of ideas and resources to procure biglaw practice tools on a budget.  For most consumer practice areas, such as family law, bankruptcy, trusts and estates, new solos can find a cornucopia of low cost practice tools, such as pro bono training programs, reasonably priced bar courses and forms (many which include valuable CLE credits as part of the package) or even many of the books by Nolo, one of the sponsors of this site (in fact, my love of Nolo books is one reason why I’ve been thrilled by their support of my site).

But when it comes to many biglaw practice areas, low cost information isn’t as freely available.  My practice area, energy regulation is a traditionally biglaw field and it’s dominated by commercial providers offering pricey seminars, webinars, subscription services and conferences, often $1000 a pop or more.  These costs can pose a real hurdle to biglaw attorneys who want to continue practicing their biglaw specialty as a solo.  However, there are a couple of solutions.

First, check out My Corporate Resource, an aggregation of biglaw newsletters (H/T Three Geeks and A Law Blog).  These newsletters cover all kinds of recent developments, often with cites to relevant cases or new legislation.  You can pick up a feed for your practice area to keep abreast of changes at no cost.

Second, you can try to barter your knowledge or time for some of the information products that large firms access.  Just a few days ago, I helped a colleague with some tips on research tools and social media and in exchange, he’ll be providing me access to a range of fairly expensive seminars.  Similarly, I often send news clippings to a large firm that I work with from time to time, and they’ll often forward me  articles from costly subscription services.  When I started my firm, I’d often attend expensive conferences for colleagues in exchange for bringing back materials and preparing a summary of the event.

Don’t feel that you need to give up a potentially lucrative biglaw practice area because you can’t afford to get it up and running.  Instead, recognize that your biglaw specialization can potentially be a cash cow for your practice (after all, most larger companies won’t blink about paying $20,000 for a complex matter, while those rates can price many consumer clients right out of your office) and be resourceful in finding inexpensive ways to procure the resources you need.

Does anyone else have any other tips for doing biglaw work on a budget?  Please post them in the comment section below.

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