Many solo attorneys have minimal or no support staff. Even if you use a service like Call Ruby, that still leaves other office tasks—like trips to the post office.

After years of printing envelopes and making trips to the post office when I needed to serve extra large packets of motion papers, I bit the bullet and bought a Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo. I now consider it a must-have for any solo attorney.

The good

The Dymo LabelWriter 450 Twin Turbo is easy to use, reliable, and most importantly, prints nifty looking labels. The advantage of the Twin Turbo it has twin spindles—one for labels and one for stamps. Unlike single spindle printers (Dymo makes plenty of them), you can print labels and stamps without having to awkwardly change the spindles.

My reasons for buying one were two-fold. One, when I sent larger documents, I was tired of handwriting the address of the recipient. When I was in a rush, taking that extra time to make sure my handwriting was especially nice was agonizing.

Two, for those same documents, I could either stick 6-8 stamps on the envelope or walk over to the post office, stand in line, and mail it there. Most of the time, I thought 6-8 stamps just looked funny, so I would spend the extra time in line at the post office. Some days it was a nice break, but not when things were busy, or when I was rushing to get a motion out the door.

The 450 Twin Turbo takes care of both those issues. My labels look snazzy, and with the USB scale that I bought, I can quickly and easily print the correct postage in one nice-looking stamp. My documents might lack the personality of being hand addressed, but they look much more professional now. Most importantly, I don’t find myself wasting twenty minutes at the post office, which leads to an increase in productivity.

The less good

The 450 Twin Turbo isn’t cheap at $289.00. Fortunately you can shop around and get it much cheaper—it is currently $143 at Amazon, and I even got it for cheaper than that. If you also buy a scale, that will set back a bit less than $30 or so for a decent scale. I would highly recommend buying the scale though, as it integrates seamlessly with the label maker.

You don’t pay extra for postage, but you are paying extra for the special postage stickers and the label stickers. I bought a roll of 700 postage stamps for $6.50, which works out to about an extra cent per stamp, which is well worth the price. The shipping labels work out to about 5 cents per label, which is also not a huge investment. If you print your own labels on your printer, they are probably more than 5 cents per label. Overall, you are paying more for nice-looking labels, but I would argue it is worth the price.

The included label making software could use some improvements. It’s not very intuitive and touchy, for lack of a better word. You can get pretty creative with the label designs, but the software makes it very difficult to make even modest designs. In other words, prepare to spend some time fine tuning your labels.

The verdict: buy one

Solo attorneys are always battling the image of a one person shop with limited resources and overhead. Buying a label maker won’t revolutionize your practice, but it will save you trips to the post office and make your mailings look more professional. For under $200, you can get a label maker, a scale, and plenty of labels and stamps. In other words, it won’t break your budget and will help keep your overhead low.