By now, longtime readers know the story of MyShingle.
Back in 2002, I was a 30-something law firm owner hell-bent on spreading the gospel that law firm ownership was an option for anyone anyone with a law degree whether they’d always dreamed of starting a firm or never considered it but felt they had no other choice. Moreover, for me, going solo was always an equal opportunity venture, where lawyers dogged and determined to succeed could make it regardless of how long they’d been in practice or whether they had a year of savings tucked away and where women could thrive by building their own conference rooms instead of playing musical-chairs just for a seat at the table. And so I started a blog, MyShingle.com to spread my vision to the world.
Today, my vision is hardly extraordinary or particularly innovative. And some might say it wasn’t back then either, though I disagree. Because even though there was Jay Foonberg who lectured about starting a firm and lots of bar associations putting on nuts and bolts program, I viewed law firm ownership not merely as a job or a career, but a movement and a radical act. A path for lawyers to take back control of their talent to achieve greater financial reward, advance access to justice through increased competition, innovate the legal profession and achieve the gender parity and diversity in the legal profession that remains lacking in biglaw and other institutions. That was and remains my big magic.
Now, nineteen years later the world has caught up. Ownership is having a moment like never before. Consider these seemingly disparate events:
- Between April and August 2021, 20 million people quit their job, a trend dubbed the Big Quit or the Great Resignation. As Atlantic staff writer Derek Thompson observes, “this level of quitting is an expression of optimism” that recognizes that employers can do better, and workers deserve better.
- NFTs (non-fungible token), a type of unique digital token stored on the blockchain that proves ownership of a digital file have emerged as the sensation of 2021. While NFTs have garnered press as a new vehicle for investment in crypto, what’s most powerful is that they empower artists, musicians and other creators to monetize digital rights that they own but previously could not derive value from. As a result, NFTs are enabling artists like Lana Denina and Lucas Zanotto to earn healthy six-figure incomes by doing work they love.
- The creator economy is booming, and has been valued at $104 billion. Meanwhile, investments in platforms like Patreon and Substack that allow creators to sell content directly to their audiences are estimated at $5 billion as of 2021.
- Taylor Swift released her new recording of her previous album, Red, as part of a larger project to reclaim ownership and control of her work that had been ceded to her label.
Together, these developments reflect a newfound recognition in the value and sanctity of ownership, whether it’s owning and monetizing talent or simply owning our time.
Legal is likewise ripe for disruption – not by technology (which has been around for a decade) or relaxed ethics rules allowing non-lawyers to handle more legal matters but by the transformative power of ownership. When lawyers stop loaning and start owning their talent, innovation happens and expands access to justice. Barriers break. Glass ceilings shatter. The world changes, and our world changes too.
Nineteen years ago, when I sat at my lonely keyboard and took MyShingle live, that’s the vision that I longed to put out in the world even though I couldn’t fully articulate it back then. Now it’s here, and even more than the longevity of my blog, that’s something to celebrate.