Solo and Small Firm

The Practitioner Winter 2021, Volume 27, Issue 1

Retreat! Small Firm Strategic Planning, Big Law-Style

By Megan S. Smith

Megan S. Smith, JD, LLM, is the founding partner and owner of Smith Estate Law, located in Sacramento, California. She focuses her solo practice on estate planning, probate, and trust administration, providing services to clients throughout Central and Northern California. She can be reached at megan@smithestatelaw. Read more about her at

While transitioning to solo practice, I briefly grieved the loss of expense accounts and reimbursed business travel. Prior to opening my solo firm, I spent fifteen years employed either by massive government agencies or billion-dollar companies. While I much prefer the many perks of being my own boss, I recently found a place in my practice to revive one tradition of my former big-business life—the executive work retreat.

Even if you’ve never attended one, you can imagine how it might go. It kicks off with an awkward opening mixer, then a catered chicken dinner accompanies a PowerPoint presentation asking for your help in leveraging the corporation’s "intangible scalable capacities" more fully than ever this year. There is a session with an earnest "team building guru" involving neon-colored pipe cleaners, followed by a round of golf, and a field trip to a local tourist attraction. After a few more catered meals and some more PowerPoint, it’s rounded out by a regrettable late-night gab session with a few colleagues over one too many before heading home the next morning, having slept through the closing breakfast festivities.

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