Thank You Bustle for Recognizing That Solo Practice Can Be Part of an “Impressive” Legal Career

soloWith D.C. Circuit judge Sri Srinivasan  being identified as a potential Obama nominee to succeed Justice Scalia on the bench, not surprisingly, the media has been churning out stories about everything from his immigrant background to his stellar credentials to his views on matters like the environment, women’s rights and the First Amendment. Interesting enough – but the story that caught my eye was this one from Bustle about Srinivasan’s wife, Carla Garrett and the “impressive legal career” she has in her own right.

After seeing the Bustle headline, I skipped to the story, fully expecting to learn that Ms. Garrett — a Stanford Law grad like her husband — was a top prosecutor for Department of Justice or a big law partner at an AmLaw 10 firm. Instead, I discovered that Srivansan’s wife – though she did do time at large firms and in-house, now owns her own small law practice and also serves as counsel at Potomac Law Group, a new law practice .

Working in a big cities like Washington D.C. or New York, sometimes, being a solo or small firm lawyer can feel awfully small.  We’re presumed inept or desperate and even when we win big, we’re still reminded that solos aren’t worth as much as big law. Of course, solos and smalls aren’t always treated rudely; sometimes the misperceptions are well-intentioned. For example, a well-meaning colleague recently offered to comp me on admission to a conference after I reached out to help on a project – remarking that “I know the conference only costs $50, but I imagine that as solo, every penny counts.” Though I appreciated the sentiment, I felt both frustrated and embarrassed that after two decades of practice, I was still viewed as a charity case.

In this context, the Bustle piece of Carla Garrett is a reminder that the real world views solos much differently from the legal profession.  While the legal profession will probably always see solos as second tier citizens, the real world sees us for what we are:  Real lawyers who solve real problems for real people, who don’t need seek approval from a dozen committees before we can speak our mind. And also, business owners, captains and bosses who run our own show. And yes, maybe even as impressive as a Supreme Court justice.


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