At the second annual Solo/Small Firm Institute, lawyers Briana Chua, Danny Mazza, Ayensa Millan, and Emily Taylor – all solo/small firm lawyers – shared their insights on a variety of issues.
In no particular order, among the tips those in attendance learned, we heard:
- That you have to “do everything” and “be everywhere” in terms of marketing and business development. For some that is a divide-and-conquer strategy, with each lawyer focusing on something different. But for solos, it may be picking the two or three best strategies and then making them a priority.
- Accounting and business practices can take an inordinate amount of time, particularly at the beginning. All agreed that they needed systems and procedures to free them up to practice law.
- Each of them have added staff to address these administrative issues, but only after starting with support from their family – not financial support, administrative support. Having a mother, sister or other family member helping out at the beginning was more common than one might have thought.
- Work-life balance is something that these lawyers struggle with and there is, again, no single answer. What was common is that unplugging totally is more the exception than the rule, even during vacation.
- And, speaking of vacation – it is possible for solo/small firm lawyers to take vacation, although some have not done so for long periods of time.
What’s the take-aways from this session? Solo/small practice isn’t for the faint-of-heart. It takes hard work, dedication, no small amount of imagination and innovation, and as with most things, a little help from your friends and family.