Section Review

Section Review runs practice area-specific articles as part of the MBA's bi-monthly Lawyers Journal.

Issue Vol. 12 No. 1

January 2010

A half-dozen hot tips for starting a solo practice

Nearly a decade ago, the American Bar Association's Lawyer Statistical Report determined that 89 percent of all lawyers in the United States work in solo or small practices. With the lion's share of the legal profession comprising firms with one to 10 lawyers, it is surprising that, in the following 10 years, so many people don't know where to begin or where to turn for training and support when they set out to form their new practice. After all, starting a solo practice or, in fact, any kind of nuts and bolts law firm management is not something generally taught in law school. It is not so much a legal endeavor calling on lawyer skills as it is a small business endeavor for which many of us have no skills.

There are some lawyers who are going out on their own solely because of today's economic downturn. Through no lack of talent and no fault of their own, they can't land an appropriate first job or are laid off by the big firm. For those attorneys, they should know there is no shame in being a solo practitioner and they should never be apologetic to clients telling them how they can now be cheaper or explaining that they are where they are because of a tanking legal market. Clients have their own problems and aren't interested in yours. They also don't want it driven home to them that they should hire you only because you are a self-proclaimed cut-rate discount bargain lawyer.