General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Solo, Spring 1996

Running a Solo Practice

by Edward Poll

Solo lawyers face the unique challenge of juggling theirmany different responsibilities. And if something goes wrong,there is no one else to blame. Here are some tips to help yousmooth out that sometimes rough path that solos tread.

  • Recognize your weak spots. Everyone is stronger in someareas and weaker in others. Because a chain is only as sturdy asits weakest link, success in solo practice comes as much fromidentifying and doing something about your weaknesses as anythingelse. One strategy is to strengthen your weak spots by study andimprovement. Another is to find someone else to do that part ofthe business.
  • Hire the best. As your caseload and business grow, hireonly the best people available to help you. Be creative indeveloping compensation packages for your staff. Give bonuses forachieving objectives that are important to you, such as paying apercentage of money collected from new business clients.
  • Stay connected. Many "solo entrepreneurs" mistakenly thinkthat they should spend most or all of their time burrowed intheir offices, concentrating on their client work. The result--eventually, they have no clients, no friends, and basically, nolife. Working solo is not working alone.
  • Understand selling for the '90s. The world of business isconstantly changing. The '80s attitude of "here's my service,take it or leave it" is definitely over. The new selling paradigmincorporates the realization that business is built onrelationships. That's why professional service businesses,especially small ones like solo law firms, grow best throughword-of-mouth referrals. As a business building tool, doingexemplary work for a client is the starting point. The next stepis to encourage your clients to refer others to you. It's simple:Ask for the business!
  • Go for the passion. Confucius said: "Find a job you love,and you will never have to work again in your life." If you'regoing to be working 12 to 16 hours a day, you better enjoy it!

Edward Poll is a certified management consultant in Los Angeles.He is the creator of Law Practice Management Review: The AudioMagazine and author of The Tool Kit for Buying or Selling a LawPractice. .


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