February 2006
Volume 2, Number 2
Table of Contents

The Best Things About Clerking for a Solo Practitioner or Small Firm

By Konrad Ziegler

Hands-On Experience

From Day One, you will be given hands-on projects for real clients.

Being Able To See The Whole Case

Working with a small firm or solo practitioner allows a clerk to see and actively participate in the entire case, not just a small slice of it. This experience is beneficial for a clerk's future practice, where one will be confronted with all the possible legal and non-legal consequences of a decision; unlike the isolated “Petri dish” of a law school problem.

Meeting With Clients

In a small firm or a solo practitioner’s office, a clerk is often encouraged to attend meetings with clients. Rather than being locked up in the broom closet, a clerk gets to personally observe an experienced attorney counsel clients.

Opportunities For Mentoring

A clerk's intimate involvement in a small firm or solo’s cases inherently creates many opportunities for the attorney to mentor the clerk using real life problems.

The Respect Of The Supervising Attorney

Because there may only be one or two clerks at the office, the supervising attorney saw something special before you were hired. Usually you are not one clerk in a herd of summer associates, so the attorney can really get to know you and you will soon earn their genuine trust.

Getting To Know The Support Staff (And How To Make Their Lives Easier!)

In the real world, your best friend and loyal protector will be your staff. As a clerk at a small firm or solo practitioner’s office, you will really get to know the secretaries and paralegals and often learn much of the nuts and bolts of legal practice. This will be invaluable to you in the future.

Special Opportunities

Since you’ll probably be one of the only clerks around, all the cool stuff that comes along winds up in your hands. Unlike taking everyone in the “class” to a baseball game or throwing some boring cocktail reception, solos and small firms will provide unique opportunities that are simply impracticable for large groups. For instance, I was my firm’s sole representative at the Danish Business Summit and the Danish Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.

Exposure To A Wide Variety Of Practice Areas

Many solo and small firm practitioners have a more generalized practice than more specialized firms. You will get to observe and participate in many different areas of law. For example, in the last 8 months, I have provided legal assistance in business law, environmental defense, personal injury, Article 9 litigation, private international law, contracts, and real estate litigation, just to name a few.

A Relaxed Atmosphere

Don’t get me wrong. Small firms and solos demand just as much, and maybe even more, effort as larger firms. However, the rat race mentality brought on by the struggle for partnership and unreasonable billing hours rarely exists in a small firm or solo’s office. The majority of small firms and solo’s offices operate like a big family, a hard working one, but a family none the less.

Konrad Ziegler is a third-year student, Mercer University School of Law.


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