As more and more small groups of lawyers break away from BigLaw, the demand for information on solo/small law firm practicing, management, and marketing is growing quickly. And that doesn’t even account for the thousands of law job searchers who have been unable to find employment after graduation. Which has led Above the Law, A Legal Tabloid – News, Gossip, and Colorful Commentary on Law Firms and the Legal Profession, to announce its move to cover small law firm topics:
In today’s legal world, bigger doesn’t always mean better. Clients are increasingly turning to small law firms, drawn by the personalized attention and reasonable fees that these firms can offer. Additionally, many partners are leaving large law firms to start their own boutiques, attracted by the flexibility and freedom offered by smaller, nimbler platforms. In light of small firms’ increased prominence, Above the Law (“ATL”) — the biggest site for original legal news, reaching 750,000 unique visitors per month — is pleased to announce the launch of two new columns aimed at the small-firm world.
“Small Firms, Big Lawyers,” will be written by Jay Shepherd (@jayshep). “Size Matters” will be authored anonymously by a young lawyer at a small firm in Chicago, who will be writing using the pseudonym “Valerie Katz.”
Here’s a teaser from one of Jay’s recent articles:
I’ve been working in small law firms my whole career — nearly 17 years. I’d like to tell you that I chose this path for carefully considered and noble reasons, but I can’t. In truth, I ended up on the small-firm path for one simple reason:
Is solo-small law better than BigLaw? I think Jay has an accurate perspective:
It’s not about intelligence or work ethic. It’s about personality type. White shoes just don’t fit me.
As for Valerie Katz, she’s scheduled to post on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so look for her first article tomorrow.
For all you small law readers/bloggers out there, I encourage you to add these two columns to your feed readers. I also look forward to seeing Lawyerist team members’ takes on small law topics raised at Above The Law.
My Small Law Two Cents
A long time ago (2006), when I was faced with the small law/big law decision, the factors that weighed most on my mind were learning-style, lifestyle, and litigation experience. To me, small law offered a more “hands-on” approach to learning.
One of the major complaints of my law school colleagues that went the big law route was, and continues to be, their limited exposure to several aspects of the litigation process. While there are undoubtedly many situations in which recent grads get excellent experiences, by and large, learning in the big law atmosphere is a much more measured process.
One misconception that I hear a lot, that wasn’t my experience at all, is that small law offers better work-life balance. In my humble opinion, being successful at anything requires borderline obsession. Whether that’s healthy, narrow-minded, or simply untrue, that has been my experience and the experience of many young lawyers with whom I spoken. Regardless of the size of the law, being a successful attorney takes a lot of work.
However, it has also been my experience that small law offers more flexibility in terms of day-to-day schedule. While the numbers of hours necessary to be successful may not be less, the when and where you are able to execute those hours is more flexible in the small law environment.
Finally, I wanted tangible working trial lawyer experience immediately. It became quickly apparent that the opportunities for which I was looking weren’t as readily available in my big law prospects. In my first two years in small law, I was able to work 4 trials, argue too many motions, take to many depositions, participate in case evaluations and facilitations, and write at least two appellate briefs that I can recall of the top of my head.
Like other small businesses, small law firms are often more flexible, more efficient, and adapt to change at a faster pace than their big counterparts.
More Small Law Resources
If you’re looking for more small law practice, management, and marketing resources (beyond the exemplary information provided here at Lawyerist, of course) look here:
- Law.com’s Small Firm Business Section
- Solo Practice University
- The ABA’s General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division
- The Lawyerist Advisory Board
Know of some good resources on small law practice, management, or marketing? Don’t hesitate to add your favorites as comments here.