Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be, by Carolyn Elefant and available in the Career Development Office, is a book that offers advice to those seeking to establish and operate a solo practice. The resource is broken up into five sections, and each one details a different aspect of the formation process and practice in a solo law firm.
The first section provides an overview of solo practice and initial considerations. The author lists arguments for why solo practice can be a good career choice, outlines traits typical of successful solo practitioners, and discusses potential earning capacity.
The second section is devoted to the more practical aspects of operating a solo firm. It begins by describing different life-phase scenarios (e.g., employed, recently terminated, unemployed, employed part-time) and discusses the different priorities people in such positions should have. This section then lists nine practical steps for getting started, including tips for setting up financial accounts, office space, and equipment.
In the third section, the author provides more practical advice for establishing and growing one’s practice. This section offers guidance for dealing with clients from both ethical (e.g., avoiding conflicts of interest) and practical (e.g., communicating with and representing clients effectively) standpoints. The author then goes on to describe processes for determining how much to bill, how to bill, and how to collect. Finally, this section suggests advice for when and how solo practitioners should hire employees or outsource work.
The fourth section, consisting of four chapters, provides a broad overview of—in addition to discussing specific considerations pertaining to—marketing. After outlining the importance of marketing, the author highlights the ethical implications relating to attorney marketing. After these general comments, the author gives specific suggestions for utilizing print advertising, online and social media tools, networking opportunities, branding, and referrals to establish and grow a client base.
The final section offers specialized advice to people in particular situations—such as former prosecutors, large firm lawyers, government attorneys, and parents—seeking to start a solo practice.
Overall, this resource is recommended for anyone considering working as a solo practitioner. The book is well-organized and manages to give lots of advice for specific situations while still providing a general overview of the benefits and realities of solo practice work.