Sharon Barney practices law on her own terms–and that’s the way she likes it. Sharon is driven to help others and has established a solo practice that allows her to do just that–all the while running a streamlined law firm with flexibility and mobility built into her practice.
As she explains, being a solo practitioner is the ideal situation for her: “I have a solo practice. It’s just me. I don’t have an assistant or a paralegal and I prefer it that way. I answer to myself and set my own hours and know that everything I do is for me and my family.”
Solo by Choice
Sharon wasn’t always a solo attorney. While in law school, she externed in Boston in public interest law, working for a legal services firm, then a not-for-profit, and finally clerking for a judge. After graduating, she and her husband moved to Pennsylvania. It was that move that ultimately lead her down her current career path.
“After we moved to Pennsylvania, I worked for a domestic violence non-profit here. After that I I briefly returned to Massachusetts and worked for immigration services. Then I came back to Pennsylvania and was at crossroads. I wasn’t sure whether to continue with public interest law or follow another path. After much thought, I eventually decided to start my own practice, the Law Office of Sharon Barney,” she says. “It was the best decision I made. I get to be my own boss and practice the kinds of law I truly enjoy.”
For Sharon, that means a focus on helping her clients obtain the justice they deserve: “The areas of law that I handle are family law, immigration law, and employment law. I also provide victim’s rights services which means I advise victims about the civil remedies available to them, such as housing rights, protections from abuse orders, and issues relating to custody. Another niche part of my practice is that I advise students on Title 9 rights and other rights that are available to them.”
A Client-Centered Practice
Client service is important to Sharon and she does everything possible to ensure that her clients know that their needs prevail. “I provide client-centered services. In other words, I practice the client-empowered model in terms of the way I advise my clients and communicate with them. That means the clients makes decisions and I help advise them about the decisions,” she explains. “My clients have told me that they’ve worked with other lawyers in the past who didn’t listen to them or told them what to do. I don’t do that. I tell the client what their options are and discuss the pros and cons with them. Then I give them my general advice but they are ultimately the deciders of their fate.”
According to Sharon, she ensures that her clients feel empowered and in control of their case by using technology to ensure that they have access to their case-related information: “One thing that sets me apart is that I utilize technology to work with my clients and MyCase is a large part that. Instead of having to set up multiple meetings or have clients mail or drop off documents, they can upload and share documents with me or view their calendar in MyCase. MyCase is also a great way to communicate about a case–especially with my immigration clients since there is sometimes a 12 hour time difference. Many of my clients really appreciate this access since many lawyers don’t have websites–and some don’t even have email. MyCase helps to differentiate my firm by making it easy for me to provide high quality services with a client-centered focus.”
MyCase–The Obvious Choice
When Sharon first hung her shingle, she researched her law practice management software options. As she explains, it didn’t take her long to find the right software for her law firm: “I wanted to go cloud-based because I knew I’d be working from home, but would also be out and about and didn’t want to be tied down to my computer. I conducted a lot of research online and learned about others’ experiences with web-based practice management software. Then I tested out a few but quickly settled on MyCase because of the intuitive interface and user-friendly client portal. The ease of use was appealing and I liked that it had an app for mobile communications. I also really appreciated the cost—MyCase seemed to be aimed toward solos and the cost is really reasonable. So that’s why I decided on MyCase.”
After making the decision, she’s never looked back. MyCase is the perfect fit for her practice and allows her to practice law on her own terms: “In the past I’ve worked at offices that didn’t have cloud-based software and I found that it was outdated and made it difficult to work from anywhere but the office. I wanted to move my practice into the modern landscape and since I work from home, but meet with clients at a shared conference space, it’s important for me to be able to work from anywhere using my phone or tablet. I don’t want to be tied to a specific location. I need the freedom to practice from anywhere while still having access to all my case-related information. MyCase makes that possible.”
When I asked Sharon if she had any favorite quotes, she offered the following quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
For Sharon, that quote exemplifies her thoughts on a client-centered law practice. She explains: “It’s important for my clients to feel that they were respected, listened to, and that their feelings and thoughts matter.”