Top 5 Resources for Solo Lawyers

English: Icon of Law Firm--owned by user.

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So, you’ve decided to head out on your own and start your own law firm, but have no idea where to start. Well, worry no more! There are plenty of resources available to newly solo lawyers, both online and offline. Whether you’re looking for information on the nuts and bolts of setting up your office  or are researching your legal software and technology options, there is a vast array of information designed to get you on the right track. So, let’s get started.

Books

There are a number of great books about the ins and outs of starting your own law firm. These books walk you through everything you need to know when starting a law practice:

Blogs

Of course, there are a number of great law blogs devoted to solo and small firm attorneys which cover topics ranging from marketing and technology to law practice management issues. Here are a few of the most useful blogs for solo and small firm lawyers:

  • Attorney at Work–a group blog covering a wide range of topics relevant to running a small firm practice
  • Lawyerist–another group blog devoted to providing information useful to solo and small firm lawyers
  • Solo in Colo–A blog by a solo attorney in Colorado that focuses on practical resources for solo attorneys
  • My Shingle–Carolyn Elefant’s long-standing, extremely helpful blog devoted to all things solo.

Online forums and resource centers

Aside from blogs, there are a number of other online resources available for solo and small firm practitioners. First off, don’t overlook the solo practice listservs and groups offered by your local or state bar associations. And, in addition to those resources, here are a few of the more well-traveled online resources created for solo attorneys:

Technology Resources

Technology is at the heart of every 21st century law firm. This is especially the case for solo firms, since cloud-based law practice management software and mobile technologies make it possible for solo attorneys to compete with larger firms in ways never before possible. So learning about new and emerging technologies is an important part of opening and operating a solo practice. Here are a few great places to start:

  • Google + community–Cloud Computing for Lawyers is a community devoted to legal technology, including cloud computing, and its use in law practices
  • MILO group–A Google group for solos and small firm lawyers who use Apple products in their firms
  • ABA Legal Technology Resource Center–The ABA provides lawyers with a wealth of information related to using technology in a law office
  • ABA Technology books–The ABA’s Law Practice Management Section publishes a large number of legal technology books designed to teach lawyers about law software, emerging technologies, online security, and more.

Conferences

Last but not least, don’t forget about the assortment of great legal conferences aimed at solos. These are fantastic educational and networking opportunities. So choose to attend one of two of these and invest in your practice and your future:

So if you’re thinking about hanging out a shingle, there’s plenty of information out there to help you establish a solo practice that works for you. So why wait? Seize the day and turn your dream of starting a solo law firm into a reality.

–Nicole Black

  • Scott Akin

    I love helpful lists — Thanks!

    As a recent Bar member starting out, I’ve read the “solos” mentioned, and even “Flying Solo” and the California State Bar’s guide to going solo. But these are “big picture” advice guides, and great for that. The latter two I mention amount to fully developed generic business plans for lawyers.

    What I would like to see are some very practical, down-in-the-trenches guides, on things like:

    > “How will you conduct research?” With tips from specific free sources to low-cost sources to when to resort to the big guns like Westlaw and Lexis.

    > “What are my tech options?” Resident software? Cloud solutions? Hybrid? Advice on Do I really need high-cost “professional” case management, billing, calendaring and the whole ball of wax if I’m just starting out with no clients or like 1-3 clients? Can’t most things be handled in an office suite (Microsoft Office, Open Office or even Google’s cloud apps) to begin with as long as I keep in mind to migrate to the professional (and costly) pro software BEFORE being overwhelmed (if you ever are in this economy!).

    > General Practice vs. Specialization: “General Practice” seem to be dirty words to most legal career services experts, yet, most Middle Class Americans and small town dwellers can’t really afford the services of specialists, so some say there is a still a vital role for the “General Practitioner.” What are the strategies (and there are) to approach being a general practitioner without being overwhelmed? Say I want to specialize as a solo, my interest are really varied, so how do I determine what field is best for me, and how do I make a plan to embark on that specialty (education, finding new mentors, networking, location, etc.).

    > CLE: Where are the free and modestly priced quality resources?” I can barely afford to eat, I CAN’T afford $300 for an hour and a half of CLE in my first two years as a solo!

    I’m sure much of this IS out there in the blogoshere, but haystacks take time to search for needles! That’s why lists — and resource guide books — are so helpful! Thanks again!

    scott