A New Solo’s Perspective on the Current State of the Business of Law

old and newAs a new solo practitioner and entrepreneur, I have to say that the business world today seems creative, lucrative, and downright cool.

People are crafting artisanal marshmallows (yum, yum Sugar Knife), developing user-friendly customer relation platforms (17hats, anyone), rock climbing in the city (Brooklyn Boulders, I’m not ready), and even finding ways to make the bathroom more pleasant (Poo~Pourri, please).  Innovative business likes these are so inspiring, and I find myself wanting to high five the owner every time I hear about a new one.

The legal world, on the other hand, well, let’s just say it feels a bit like we are still watching old movies on a VCR while everyone else is tuning into the hottest new shows on Netflix.  Despite the changes in the business world, we continue to fight tooth and nail to stay the same.

My version of typical lawyer responses to innovation:

  • Meditating to reduce stress? I’m a lawyer. I prefer to be miserable, thank you.
  • Flat fee billing? I know they price surgeries, but legal work is much too complicated.
  • Virtual law offices? The Department of Defense works on secure servers, but our legal files require too much confidentiality to risk it.
  • Any technology or method that makes our lives easier or the services we offer competitive or convenient? Nope, I don’t want it. They violate 19 ethics rules simultaneously.

I know our profession creates a reluctance to try new things.  A large part of our training involves learning to spot each and every potential problem.  We’ve read the cases and know what happens when things go wrong.  We also know how bad it can get if things go wrong.

But as solo practitioners we also run businesses. Business requires that we innovate and iterate to respond to the needs of our clients.  By failing to adapt and change with the times, we are losing clients. And without clients, we have no business and no money.

So what is a solo to do?

The good news, in my opinion, is that we’ve already completed the hardest part – the legal training.  Because we’ve studied the legal issues with past innovations, we are in the very best position to create plans and strategies to handle the current ones.  Remember, the circumstances and technologies might change, but sound legal principles remain the same.

What we must do now is change our perspective.  We must shift from the belief that the mechanisms for delivering legal services and achieving success in the law are fixed.  Instead, we must view the business of law from a growth mindset, a belief that through hard work and dedication we can develop our businesses and legal skills to meet the demands of the times.

To shift our perspective, we simply need guts.  And to get them, we don’t need any more traditional law school training ( except Solo Practice University which was worth every penny and a bargain!).  We simply need to activate them.

In my case, I figure that since I already had the guts (or madness if you ask my family) to start this solo-entrepreneurial journey, I might as well have the gumption to change my perspective on the business of law, too. I have lots to do, but I wholeheartedly believe that in the end I’ll want to high five myself, too.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

This entry was posted in Guest Bloggers, Savvy Solos, Subjective Opinions and tagged Toya Gavin. Bookmark the permalink.

Enjoy our blog posts with lunch! Enter your email address and we'll send you an email each time a new blog post is published.

Want your free copy of Business Call is Back and Attorney Guide to Virtual Receptionists? Subscribe by email below and you will be able to download them immediately.

7 comments on “A New Solo’s Perspective on the Current State of the Business of Law

  • Nice article but i was hoping you would share some of your tech tips that work for you as a young lawyer who is naturally tech savvy (not to mention an engineer!) with us old lawyers who struggle to understand tech but really want to use it to help with our practices …. all tips appreciated.

    • Hi Lynn,

      Thank you for comments on my post. You’ve given me some food for thought for future blog posts. One of the best tech tips I’ve received came from my 9-year-old nephew. He was 7 or 8 at the time and said, “Auntie, just press every button.” And that idea has served me well for old applications and new ones. I try to press every button or link in an application just to get a feel for whether it’s user-friendly enough for me and if I like it. So that would be my initial tech suggestion for you. Go through the applications/programs you already use and do an audit of sorts by clicking on every button. You’ll get a feel for the functionality and can decide whether you want to keep what you have or find something new.

  • Toya-
    Loved your interpretations of lawyer responses to innovative solutions! Gave me a chuckle because there is more than a grain of truth in each one.

  • Toya -

    Well done! I couldn’t agree more. I’m 5 years in now and am still surprised by how difficult it is for attorneys (new and seasoned) to look outside of the legal world for inspiration and instruction. I wish you the best of success – your mindset will carry you far!


    • Hi Tamsen,

      Congratulations on your 5 years. That’s fantastic. You’ve made it over the 5-year hump, and I wish you continued success going forward. I’m not sure why we don’t look outside the legal world for inspiration. The creativity in the business world today has me fired up on a regular basis. Not only are people running successful businesses, they seem to be pretty happy too. I just want more lawyers to feel like they can and should be happy as well.

  • Toya’s article and its follow up comments by Susan warmed my heart. People are now looking at alternatives to litigation, which I decided to do 5 years ago!! In my circle, Animal Law/Rights (and anything having to do with a conflict between people over an animal) litigation is the only way. In their opinion we need to set precedent. Take Steven Wise and the Non-Human rights project. Millions of dollars raised and spent to foot the litigation bill and not one useful conversation between interested parties has taken place and the animals are standing still.

    My Animal Law colleagues actually laughed at my practice and my mission when I started, but the people I have helped who were suffering over an animal, see the merits and refer clients as well as my new book which easily introduces the concept, Nipped in the Bud-Not in the Butt – How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts over Animals. It is happening, the shift in what people want to help them live more happily going forward. My practice is living proof.

    Not only is it good for clients, it is wonderful for the practitioner. I’m a recovering litigator and love going to work every day because I help my parties self select the solution that works for all, or simply communicate. What a novel concept. I love my fellow attorneys but people are too stressed to continue the litigious paradigm. We need to help them find their own solution and often that means finding a mediator who can help everyone feel heard respected and understood while reality checking what they really want. Thanks Toya and Susan for reflecting so pointy on the state of the law right now.

Comments are closed automatically 60 days after the post is published.