Solo Practitioners

Keith Lee

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the need to push back against work. To make time for your life outside of the daily grind. That it’s important to be more than your job, both for your job and yourself.

But you do need to work. And when it is time to work, you need to work well. No complications, no distractions, no interruptions. To solely focus on the task at hand and nothing else.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Stuck On A Problem? Move”

Over the last few months, people have emailed me questions about my job search and for general advice. Unfortunately, I have not been able to answer all of them for various reasons. But now that my job search is on hold, I wanted to get back to everyone and possibly take this column into a new direction.

After the jump, I will answer some frequently asked questions about my future plans, and my difficulties in finding former solo practitioners willing to share their stories and impart their wisdom. I will also describe my plan to profile law firms that have hired underdog candidates with good results.

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Ricky Martin

Ed. note: Please welcome Susan Cartier Liebel of Solo Practice University, who will be writing for Above the Law about issues relevant to solo and small-firm practitioners.

I am a Gleek. I admit it. And never was I more Gleeky than the week Ricky Martin made his guest appearance on the show singing in Spanglish “I’m Sexy and I Know It” back in 2012.

But, that’s not really what this post is about. What it is about is what Ricky Martin’s character, the new Spanish teacher, said to his night students wanting to learn Spanish: “By 2030 more Americans will be speaking Spanish as their first language than English.”

I was a little surprised, too! That’s less than 18 years away from when the show aired in 2012. The stars then took turns singing songs in English and Spanish, the not-so-subtle message being we all need to hone our Spanish language skills….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “If You’re Practicing Law In The 21st Century, You Better ‘Be Sexy and Know’ Spanish”


I had been planning to write an article on whether law firms should upgrade to Windows 8. That is, until last week, when Microsoft previewed their next operating system, Windows 10.

Not only did they announce it, they opened it up for a free preview version download. So I downloaded it, tested it, and took screenshots for you so I can walk through the pros and cons of upgrading to a new operating system.

The Windows 10 preview makes you go through a series of warnings where you acknowledge that you are going to be using an unstable, incomplete, buggy operating system. They do not recommend it for your main computer, just if you have an old laptop lying around.

So, Here’s Windows 10:

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Keith Lee

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

— Aristotle

The trick is not holding other people accountable, but holding yourself accountable. It’s the central starting point of developing an appropriate professional mindset — recognizing that you are personally responsible for your actions and results (or lack thereof) delivered to clients.

You must strive to do the best you can in all situations. While it will make a difference in the quality of the work you produce, more importantly it makes a difference in you. Pushing yourself to deliver better work, better services, and better solutions will allow you to self-create new challenges and excitement in your job. It will help keep monotony and routine at bay.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Where Do You Fit On The Ladder?”

In past columns I wrote about how a lawyer and a judge use iPads as part of their daily routine. And there’s a good reason that iPads were the first tablets discussed; it’s because the vast majority of lawyers who use tablets in their practices choose the iPad. In fact, according to the 2014 ABA Legal Technology Survey, 84% of lawyers surveyed who used tablets preferred the iPad and only 10% used Android devices, with the remaining 6% using other types of tablets.

The lawyer I’ll be featuring today, Scott Bassett, is one of the 6%. Scott is a solo practitioner who lives in Florida with a practice focused on Michigan appellate work, and his tablet of choice is the Sony Digital Paper model #DPT-S1. Even though his Sony tablet costs more, he prefers it over the iPad because it’s versatile and substantially lighter: “My tablet is so thin and light you barely know you’re carrying it. At $1,100 it costs nearly twice as much as the iPad, but weighs half as much as the iPad Air. Not only is it lighter, it has a full-size, 13.5-inch screen, so documents appear on my screen full size. It’s a better screen than the iPad Kindle app because of the backlit LCD screen. It’s much easier to read and offers better reading comfort when you’ve got hundreds of pages of trial transcripts to read through. And, the batteries last nearly an entire month.”

What are some of its other advantages?

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When you are starting your solo practice from scratch with no connections, clients, or money, expect to make many sacrifices in the beginning. You must sacrifice time with friends and family to attend networking events meeting people — most of them in the same position as you. You will miss many Simpsons episodes to read legal treatises and practice guides. Money will be spent to pay for office overhead — gifts, luxuries, and even student loan payments will have to wait.

Unfortunately, for one solo attorney, her pursuit of professional success required her to sacrifice one of life’s most treasured partnerships: her marriage. Over the weekend, solo practitioner Vivian Sobers announced on her blog that she and her husband of 11 years have decided to separate and eventually divorce.

Vivian’s story is not unusual. Most of us in our line of work have either experienced rocky relationships ourselves or know someone who has. What is unusual is that she is open about it, and I commend her for that. But here’s the question: is her law practice is to blame for the divorce, or did she bring this upon herself by choosing her career over family?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Solo Practitioner’s Choice: Marriage v. Career”

Law school can ruin your life if you are not careful. It’s very expensive and the rewards are far from guaranteed. And even if you reap those rewards, you might not like what you’ve become.

But if you do everything wrong, law school becomes just a tragicomic microcosm of poor planning and bad luck.

Forbes has an article up about a woman who is $350,000 in debt and living at the poverty line. Oh, but she has a law degree, and people who haven’t been paying attention are surprised by that…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Every Law School Mistake Ever, From One Lady”

I’m not gonna lie, I think this is the best solo practitioner YouTube ad ever. The other ones, the ones strange or ridiculous enough to make this site or be aired during the Super Bowl, don’t impress me. They’re fun, sure. But they smell of slightly unhinged people desperate to get attention. I wouldn’t hire those people.

I would hire the Law Hawk. The Law Hawk looks hardworking. The Law Hawk looks tenacious. The Law Hawk doesn’t take himself too seriously, he takes your rights too seriously! The Law Hawk is good-looking, and I don’t generally think white people are good looking….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Need A Lawyer? Call The Law Hawk!”

* Well here’s a headline: My Solo Practice Ended My Marriage. [Law Firm Suites]

* Pennsylvania Attorney General claims officials sent and received porn via state email accounts for years, “including top state jurists and 30 current employees of the state Attorney General’s Office.” If the AG’s office is swapping porn at all hours, somehow the whole “systematic blind eye to Penn State” thing makes more sense. [Associated Press via Lehigh Valley Live]

* Interesting argument for law schools to adopt the Montessori method “in the mindset of professors, in classroom management, in physical building design, and in radical curricular reform.” Law school deans’ eyes glazed over until they heard “physical building design” and recognized the potential for more spending. [TaxProf Blog]

* Here come the litany of Supreme Court previews. Most of them will focus on stuff like gay marriage. But this one gets to the sexy stuff, like FLSA regulations. [Federal Regulations Advisor]

* Oh look, the government made a rule that will ultimately accomplish nothing! That’s so cute. [CNBC]

* Prominent lawyer marries actor. Well played. [Jezebel]

* Boalt 3L builds app to “add the features Westlaw forgot.” Westlaw didn’t forget, they were just crowdsourcing. [The Recorder]

* Another review of Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link), David Lat’s forthcoming novel. [Indiana Law Blog]

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