As 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®.