Solo But Not Alone
By Cynthia Thomas
Cynthia Thomas is the owner of PLMC & Associates and the Operations Manager at Nolan Heimann, LLP. After 10 years of managing small and midsize firms in California, she started a law firm management consulting company providing best practices in human resources and staffing. She is the associate editor of ABA Law Practice Magazine, Chair Person of the ABA Law Practice Division Lawyer Leadership & Management Committee.
According to the American Bar Association’s 2016 Lawyer Demographics report1, most attorneys in private practice are employed by small law firms, which are defined as those with fewer than twenty lawyers. Moreover, almost half of all lawyers in private practice are solo practitioners. This number will most likely continue to rise with the growing number of law students burdened with debt and the harsh reality of not receiving lucrative job offers upon graduation.
Often times when a lawyer decides to open his or her own firm, the excitement of getting that first client and generating income outweighs the importance of having systems, policies, and procedures in place. However, practicing law as a solo does not mean you are without colleagues or guidance. Whether you are a veteran solo attorney or newly minted solo embarking upon this journey, know that others came before you and learned valuable lessons to be shared, and many others are doing exactly what you are now. From the wisdom of these guides, here are some tips on starting and running a successful solo or small firm practice.