Apr 21, 2008
The Mission of Solo Practice University
Once again, I am both amazed and humbled by the number of subscribers to this construction blog given Solo Practice University is just embryonic in its growth.
I am also flattered by the number of lawyers and other professionals I have invited to teach who simply have said, ‘tell me what you need.’ In a world where time is exceedingly precious, everyone I’ve personally talked with on the telephone, without exception, has the time to get involved with Solo Practice University. To date, more than thirty practitioners from Big Law to Solo, Consultants to Networking Professionals have joined the faculty.
In my opinion, the response is both a tribute to the mission of Solo Practice University and the spirit of those who truly wish to educate and help other attorneys and entrepreneurs in what is proving to be a singularly unique experience. So, to the many who have enthusiastically and graciously committed their time, I thank you.
The story behind the concept of Solo Practice University.
When I started teaching at Quinnipiac University School of Law on How to Hang A Shingle Right Out of Law School it was exhilarating yet frustrating to be limited to 16-30 students per academic year. I tried to find a way to reach more. I discovered blogging. Blogging certainly allowed me to reach a greater audience nationally and internationally. But through the numerous e-mails I received on a near daily basis, I found many questions were practice area specific. The questions ranged on issues unique to starting an immigration practice, family law practice, bankruptcy practice, blogging, best technology, the list was endless. Questions came in such as, ‘Where can I learn ..:
- how to conduct a deposition;
- how to build a mediation practice;
- how to negotiate;
- how to become a contract lawyer;
- how to find a mentor while building an IP practice;
- the anatomy of a criminal trial;
- the steps in a Chapter 7;
I was fielding or referring questions covering all the innumerable variables unique to building a solo practice in a given practice area.
Some would say, ‘that’s why you have to work for another first.‘ Well, those who want to go solo do not accept this premise. Attending Solo Practice University, however, does address the issues – one internet destination where lawyers can learn what they need to learn while being self-employed and staying in charge of their professional future.
There are excellent blogs, listservs and conferences out there.
Blogs: There are numerous excellent blogs and I applaud all those who have generously and diligently dispensed information to their readership. However, readers must find these blogs and these blog authors must find these readers. The reader also hopes the author will address their specific question or the answer to the query is already buried in archives that may or may not surface through a Google search. Blogging is also not live nor meant to provide an in depth, interactive teaching experience.
Listservs: A law student or new lawyer can join well-established highly populated listservs where peers can field questions. However, these same listservs are rightly resistant to answers or questions posed by those who make a living providing their expertise, sometimes the very expertise a new lawyer needs for a definitive answer. And it is totally understandable. These are generally peer discussion groups and collectively there is a strong and justifiable opinion those who service lawyers should not be permitted to participate except on a limited basis, fielding the odd question now and again. These listservs, after all, are designed as a water-cooler gathering for peers, not a trade show for vendors. Those who desire to be ‘taught’ by experts may not get the education they are seeking on listservs.
Conferences, Summits, Retreats: Conferences, summits and retreats are incredible experiences enabling lawyers to meet leaders in the field if one has the time and financial resources to participate. While you will walk away with a wealth of information and potential person-to-person networking opportunities from those you believe can contribute to your education, the experience is generally limited to a moment in time. For a new solo, participation is a less likely option because during start-up financial resources are limited and need to be allocated for initial costs and continued operating expenses until there is steady incoming cash flow.
Therefore, imagine combining all the benefits derived from learning from the authors of your favorites blogs, being part of an educational and networking community not just of peers but recognized experts and experiencing the intense learning of a conference, summit or retreat…. but it’s not limited to a moment in time? It is ongoing. And it doesn’t break the bank.
This is the mission of Solo Practice University – one internet destination where those who are experts in their chosen practice area, business, marketing, blogging, technology and more actually teach you how to create and grow your solo legal practice; where these known and highly regarded experts congregate and willingly give of their time and guide you on how to become the practitioner you always wanted to be.
Scholarships Will Be Awarded At Solo Practice University.
Lack of money is a great inhibitor to many who wish to go solo. This is why one of my greatest desires will be fulfilled through operating Solo Practice University. Although all the logistics have not been worked out, it is our intention to pattern ourselves after a real university, not just in providing the finest teachers but in also providing ‘scholarships’ to several students who wish to open their own practices but feel intimidated because of pressing student loans or other financial considerations. An as yet undetermined number of scholarships will be awarded annually to those who wish to go solo, recipients selected by the faculty. The goal is to either contribute to student loan payments or start up costs or both.
Just another way of giving back.
Susan Cartier Liebel
You can always reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org