General Practice, Solo & Small Firm DivisionSolo Newsletter

Reinvent Your Practice

by Robin Page West

Most sole practitioners choose the solo practice setting for a reason. The problem is, sometimes we forget what the reason was. In the beginning, we marveled over how being a solo would allow us to have the practice we dreamed of. We could be a lean, mean litigation machine or a specialized rich-folks-only divorce lawyer. Over time, somehow, our dreams grew arms and legs and we found ourselves handling cases we couldn’t quite figure out how we got. Our boutique practice became the law firm version of suburban sprawl while we weren’t looking.

The result? You’re happy with most of the cases you’re handling but there are a few problems—maybe the hours are too long, several of your clients are insufferable, and your overhead expenses are getting out of hand. You still yearn for that lucrative practice and quality time with your family. What now?

One answer is to look for other ways to make money, such as investing, as discussed in the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division’s new book spotlighted inside, or by saving on taxes as described in the article about SEPs.

Another possibility is to reevaluate your use of office technology to see if recent advances in voice recognition software might enable you to cut back on secretarial staff, as discussed in Mary Bryant’s article. For example, did you know that for a couple hundred bucks you can buy software that will let you dictate letters right into your computer—no typing required? You can also consider slashing your commute time by moving your office closer to home and maintaining a mere "presence" downtown as described in Alan Kam’s article.

And while you’re making these adjustments, take time now to step back and look at how you spend your days. It’s easy to keep doing everything the same year after year while our lives progress and our practices evolve almost imperceptibly. Is your workday the equivalent of Mod Squad reruns? Does your practice have bellbottoms and sideburns? If so, treat yourself to a makeover. Farm out those clients you’d rather see with someone else, and set up a marketing plan to get the clients you deserve. As a solo, you have the freedom to make your practice exactly what you want it to be. Take advantage of it!


Robin Page West is a sole practitioner in Baltimore, Maryland. She is the editor-in-chief of Solo.


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