If you’ve ever considered entering into solo practice, Carolyn Elefant’s new book Solo By Choice is a must-read. But the book is so packed with practical advice about running a law office that I’d recommend it even if you’re a seasoned practitioner or not currently considering going solo.
Solo By Choice presents a practical, pragmatic and realistic view of solo practice, including reasons to become a solo and a ‘reality check’ on whether you’re cut out for solo practice. The book contains step by step advice starting with what to do in your current position before opening your own firm or how to start a solo practice directly out of law school, including essential considerations such as malpractice insurance, choosing a name for your firm, and deciding whether (and where) to look for office space. But the advice doesn’t stop there.
Most law schools don’t teach the business issues that are essential for any solo (or law firm manager) to master. This book explores how to choose a jurisdiction and practice area, how to create a client-centric practice and how to determine which clients or matters to keep and which to refer to others. Carolyn leaves no stone unturned, tackling difficult issues like dealing with ‘nightmare’ clients, essentials of retainer agreements and billing and fees.
In today’s climate, no book on solo practice would be complete with out discussions about staffing, outsourcing and creating reliable revenue streams, particularly when starting out as a solo. This book addresses them all and provides marketing ideas are straightforward and achievable by lawyers on any budget. For solos facing ‘growing pains,’ Carolyn discusses virtual law firms, affiliations, project partnering and networks.
Throughout, Carolyn reminds the reader of jurisdictional quirks, ethical considerations and client concerns that could affect the would-be solo’s decisions. She includes stories from her own experience going from a law firm environment to solo practice, as well as the real-life experiences of other solo lawyers (in their own words.) Her writing is straightforward and accessible and she provides resources throughout the book for more information on each of the topics she discusses.
Carolyn is a tireless advocate for solos, and is the author the blog MyShingle, so she's the perfect person to write a book about solo practice. If you’re looking for a handbook for starting a law practice or going out on your own, this is it. To purchase Solo By Choice, click here.
Here I am with Carolyn during this month's ABA Techshow 2008: