The Immutable Truth About Going Solo

As I got ready for work this morning, I found myself enumerating the things I absolutely MUST get done before Friday:

  1. Revise contracts for Clients A and B;
  2. Client C’s corporate documents are way past due;
  3. Client D’s  trial brief has been overlooked for far too long;
  4. Get the process server to serve the summons and complaint for Client E;
  5. Don’t forget about Clients F, G, H, I, and J;
  6. Review engagement letters and fee agreements to be sent to half a dozen new clients;
  7. Drive to Tampa today for the Law Alumni Association happy hour for February bar exam takers (I’m the organizer, so I better be there);
  8. Contact the caterer, entertainers and venue to confirm everything for the Judicial Reception I’m co-chairing for the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers;
  9. Call the dive shop to set up the Alumni Association dive trip I’m organizing for April;
  10. Confirm the last speakers for the CLE seminar the Alumni Association is organizing in May (featuring none-other than Susan Cartier Liebel);
  11. Follow up with the people I met at last night’s networking event and send a thank you note to our hostess;
  12. Write my March email newsletter, draft at least one new blog post and post updates to Facebook and Twitter;
  13. Sit down with my husband and decide what we are going to do about some needed repairs to the house;
  14. Drinks with two of my best referral sources tomorrow night; and
  15. Arrange to have my 19-year old cat, Othello, who has terminal cancer and is hanging on by a thread, euthanized.

Yes, I am so busy that “euthanize the cat” has to be a To Do list item rather than just doing it when it’s his time to go, which, honestly, should have been over a week ago. No, I’m not particularly proud of that.

It seems I have done it to myself again. I have dug a hole I can’t possibly climb out of, making myself so busy that I cannot begin to get even half of what needs to be done accomplished, even with the able assistance of my assistant, Wendy (who will follow-up with people on my behalf and has commandeered my calendar and to do lists to make sure nothing falls through the cracks) , and a very helpful and understanding husband, Tim (who will handle the cat situation, call the dive shop for me and doesn’t mind me being at social networking events three nights a week).

When I was at Big Law, I was probably the busiest associate they had in terms of putting myself out there. I was active with local voluntary bar associations and actively marketed myself and the firm to prospective clients and referral sources, and I did a pretty good job of making it rain for a newbie associate. Those marketing habits – learned from previous entrepreneurial efforts long before I ever thought of going to law school – served me well then and they serve me well now. Trouble is, putting yourself out there leads to over-committing your time. You volunteer as a committee chair one year, and you are still chairing that committee five years later. You agree to serve on your alumni association’s board, and next thing you know you are organizing events for the association. You befriend referral sources, and they want to spend time with you. And I’m definitely like an Octopus, tentacles into too many things!

When exactly is all that client work you brought in supposed to happen? When I was at Big Law, it got done early in the morning and late at night. These days, that has not changed a bit. I do get client production done, but not as speedily as I would always like or in the quantity I strive for. Not looking for advice here – seriously, I KNOW what’s the problem – just stating the facts. 

When I left Big Law, I gave up the good and the bad of a big practice and embraced the good and the bad of a solo practice. The one constant between those two is me, warts and all. I can try to be the best version of myself all the time, but I’m still going to be me. I’m still going to have that tendency to over commit. I’m still going to run rings around myself trying to get it all done. I have come to accept that I will never be caught up. It’s just not in me.

That’s the immutable truth of going solo. You can hate Big Law all day long, and it won’t change the fact that you’ve got only yourself to blame for your failures and shortcomings, and no one to praise for your successes, but yourself.

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®.

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