Seventeen years ago in a galaxy (or at least a lifetime) far, far away, as a 30-something mom to six and three year old girls and a part-time, home-based energy regulatory practice, I uploaded this page by file transfer protocol to a server that my techy husband had gerry-rigged just for me and launched MyShingle into the world.
Back then, there were only a handful of legal bloggers and far fewer still covering the solo and small firm space. I had big ideas and a small audience — as in 20 readers on a good day. I had no idea what the heck to do with the site having invested months in setting it up and so I did the only thing I knew how to do: I wrote. And then I wrote some more, and then more and even more.
But not just about law practice management and legal tech stuff. Frankly, back in the day, those topics were kind of soul-less and dull – the tech was so complicated, and solos and smalls had few options. So I gravitated towards the issues that lit my fire: stupid ethics rules and lawyers doing stupid ethics things. Parents who practice and the opportunities afforded to women who own it. Singing the praises of solo practice , while keeping it real by sharing the downsides and offering encouragement to lawyers to see it through. And always writing with my eyes on the future of law rather than the past, and featuring solos with futuristic, niche practice areas.
While I love me my solo and small firm compatriots, this is a thankless space. Most vendors would still rather target larger and more stable firms than go after solo business one lawyer at a time. Many others – particularly some in the academic community – still don’t comprehend the role that solos play in defending the underdog even when it’s a long shot and championing loser law cases that advance progress. Truth be told, many of the folks who started out targeting solos and smalls have left for more lucrative pastures in legal tech or biglaw.
Meanwhile, the same debates – over advertising and the importance of technology and onerous ethics rules that are Killing Solo Softly persist. A decade after its inception, many of the uncertainties that the ABA Ethics 2020 Commission tackled (and to which I devoted significant time ) still haven’t been resolved. Every five years or so, the same debates over law firm ownership, security of the cloud and why women leave big law recirculate and I find myself covering topics that I blogged a decade ago. I’ve long resigned myself to the fact that despite small victories nothing I write here will ever change the intractable legal profession. And I can live with that because my mission – to empower, inspire and celebrate solo and small firm lawyers – has never wavered. My site, and Solo by Choice, the book that grew out of it, have helped launched hundreds of solo and small law firms.
Besides, blogging has given me so much more than a podium to run my mouth. On a personal level I can’t even count the professional opportunities that this blog has lead to – though I’d say that an appearance on the Daily Show (which grew indirectly out of MyShingle because it lead to the publication of this piece ) would have to top the list. Or the friendships with bloggers throughout the country which after all this time have become real.
Even more, through blogging, I’ve tracked and processed the parts of my personal life that are inextricably bound up with my professional life: the death of my husband and long , tortured slog through grief to the other side and the journey from the tyranny of the 4 pm pick up to my daughters’ departure for college to their transition into the beautiful, brainy young women they have become as they’ve grown up before my readers’ eyes.
What’s next for MyShingle? Stay tuned. Over the last few weeks, I’ll be blogging about the most significant developments for solo and small law over the past decade and where we go from here and announcing my 2020 Initiatives. But today is simply for celebrating 17 years of being here in the world.
To read some of our past birthday posts, see here:
- MyShingle’s First Anniversary Post (After 379 posts, I was still begging for blog readers – and there’s a comment about how listserves are better for fostering discussion than blawgs)
- Happy 5th Anniversary to MyShingle
- MyShingle Turns 12 (another retrospective)
- Celebrating 13 Years of Blogging, the Legal Profession’s Big Magic
- A Somber 14th BIrthday for MyShingle
- MyShingle Turns 15 (wherein I dedicate the blog to my husband’s memory)
- Happy Sweet 16, MyShingle (a video message)