General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionSolo Newsletter
WINTER 1999 ISSUE
Support Groups and a Friendly Ear
By Margaret Doty
Being a solo practitioner based at home can be an isolating experience. A group in the Washington, D.C. area is helping alleviate that feeling for several lawyers and at the same time provide networking, information and support opportunities to a group that is often overlooked by most other bar associations.
The Home Practice Committee (HPC) is part of the Lawyers at Home Forum (LAH), started in 1990 to support the interests and fit the lifestyles of lawyers who have chosen an alternative work schedule to meet the needs of their families. This includes promoting the idea and acceptance of alternative career paths for attorneys as a viable and respected option. LAH now has more than 200 members and is a part of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia.
LAH incorporates lawyers who work outside their homes in part-time paid or volunteer positions in areas that may or may not be law related, as well as others who are altogether out of the work force and are primarily at home raising children. Former and current partners, associates, government attorneys, corporate counsel, professors and recent graduates are all part of LAH. In addition, LAH attorneys range from those who are anticipating a need for an alternative work arrangement to those who have been pursuing an alternative for several years and may or may not be in the process of changing that.
LAH meets monthly at a centrally located church with the time of the meetings and on-site babysitting designed to accommodate the family oriented lifestyles of the members. Programs cover a wide assortment of topics such as maintaining professional skills and contracts, the decision to stay at home, returning to practice, alternative careers, self esteem, dealing with resume gaps, the practicalities of part-time or home based practice, parenting skills, and pro bono activities.
The Home Practice Committee gathers monthly at the home office of one of the members. The program might be a speaker from outside or inside the group or it could be a round table discussion sharing hints and ideas. Subject matter covers issues such as how to attract, keep and the bill clients; networking, accounting issues, small business loans, office computers and other equipment, how individual members develop their practices and many other relevant themes. HPC also keeps a referral list of its participants since the areas of practice cover such diverse specialties as international business transactions, tax, domestic relations, communications law, business and corporations, wills and estates, real estate, immigration, and tax exempt organizations to name a few.
If you would like more information about HPC and LAH, please contact the Women’s Bar Association of D.C., 815 15th St., NW, Suite 815, Washington, DC 20005, 202/ 639-8880, fax 202/639-8889 or Margaret Doty, 301/587-1636.
Margaret Doty is part of the Lawyers at Home Forum of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia.