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Lessons from a stint as a solo

As of a couple weeks ago, I am no longer a solo practitioner. Although I’m joining a great firm, there are many things I’ll miss about solo practice, including the opportunity it gave me to grow as a leader, test myself in new and unexpected ways and help people I would otherwise not be able to.

As a solo attorney, you are the one leading your law practice, which is a business, just like any other professional services organization. You are frequently the CEO, CFO, CTO, and marketing director all rolled into one, and how you balance those roles will determine your business success. But while you’re juggling all those things, you first have to do good legal work and give your clients great customer service.

Fortunately for me, I had a number of years of experience before I went solo. This not only gave me a level of comfort with the legal work, but it also allowed me to tap into a network I had cultivated over that time.

These days, times are hard and a lot of lawyers are hanging their own shingle fresh out of law school. My advice for those young lawyers is to carefully prepare and consider writing a business plan that includes answers to the following: what resources do you need (office space, phone, computer, etc.), what area of law will you practice, how will you attract clients and market your services and how much income do you need to survive.

There’s plenty more to think about but also plenty of resources to help you figure out the answers to your questions and help you develop a successful business plan. One place to go is the Law Office Management Assistance department of the Maryland State Bar Association. There you will find a wealth of resources to help you develop and design your law practice. While it will not always be easy, it will be liberating.

My own experience as a solo was both rewarding and challenging and took me to places I’d never thought of, including the opportunity I have now to be a part of a new office within long-established, reputable firm.