Popular Threads - April 2019

Advice for Soon-to-be 1L

A friend of mine wants to collect the best advice lawyers would give to someone entering law school to give to her son. What is the advice you would give to a 1L (other than not to go to law school)?

Mine was to remember IRAC and that law school is an endurance test - if you're smart enough to get in, you're smart enough to graduate as long as you hang in there, do the work, and are disciplined (and barring unforeseen circumstances like a serious illness).

Neither a JD nor a license to practice law is a winning lottery ticket. You need to understand business and marketing to make your career successful whether you're an associate, a partner, or a solo. Some people get very lucky and hit the gold mine, but those people are few and far between. Even then, making a lot of money is not necessarily the same as contentment, satisfaction, or happiness.

The practice of law can be a great career. It has treated me well. If I had it to do over again, I'd do things a little differently, just like almost anyone would.

            Mike Phillips, North Carolina

Investigate a joint degree program such as JD/MBA.

            Roger M. Rosen, California

Sort version: What got you here will get you through.

Longer version: When you graduated from Kindergarten, people told you that 1st grade was so much harder; but you made it through. When you went from 5th grade to Middle School (or 6th grade to Junior High School), people told you that Middle School (or Junior High School) was so much harder; but you made it through. When you started High School, people told you it was so much harder than Middle School/Junior High School; but you made it through. When you started college, people told you how much harder it was than High School; but you made it through. Now, people are telling you that Law School is so much harder than college. But you’ve gotten this far, and you can get through by continuing to do what you did up until now that got you here.

If you kept up with all of your school work every night, keep doing that, and it will get you through. But if you were the kind of person that goofed off all semester long, and then crammed like crazy for two weeks before finals, the chances are that will get you through, also. (Personally, I don’t recommend the latter, but if that’s what got you through high school and college, then it works for you, and should get you through law school).

    Brian H. Cole, California

IDK but here is some guy who has a blog post on this.


            Ronald Jones, Florida

Study. Read the cases and assignments for understanding, not merely for regurgitation. Immerse yourself in the law school experience. Appreciate the immense amount of work and wisdom contained in the law library, and pray that you may someday stand on the shoulders of giants.

            Barry Kaufman, Florida

(1) Work in a law office during law school. Right away if allowed. Do it for free if you have to.

(2) In law school, what professors are looking for is "playfulness." Seriously. An A+ exams is nothing more than, "Plaintiff might be liable for negligence, because the facts show [list facts maybe meeting elements]; on the other hand he might also be liable for trespass because [same]. . . or maybe nuisance [same]. But, wait! Defendant has [discuss silly but plausible defense]." This sort of noncommittal playfulness is where the points are. Law professor do not care for answers; they want to see ground covered. Same for the bar exam.

(3) During study time, avoid other law students like the plague. You're not there to help each other. You're trying to step over everyone else and claw your way to the top. If that doesn't sit right, avoid law school.

(4) Clerk for a judge. Any judge.

(5) Don't act like a law student after you become a lawyer (see especially #3).

            Tony LaCroix

I object to Tony's #3. My law school is known for being friendly and folks go out of their way to help one another. Of course, most of us end up public service or government attorneys, so that might have something to do with it too.

My advice: Get involved; law school is going to be miserable if you are only focused on your classes. Join a clinic, so you know how to be an attorney after graduation. Take out as little debt as possible.

            Corrine Bielejeski, California

I agree with you Corrine. Like you, I went to UC Davis Law School, where not only didn't we claw each other’s eyes out, we helped each other.

            L. Maxwell Taylor, Vermont

Well, I think Tony may be a bit sarcastic. Personally, it might be a good idea to avoid other students at exam time; not because you're not there to help others but because sometimes people drive each other into a panic frenzy. And so does conducting post mortems on exams. I knew one student, good student, bright, diligent, but she's fricking panic after exams; "oh, my god, I blew it, I blew it, I'm going to fail". She didn't fail; she might not have gotten top grade but she passed and did very well.

As I note on my blog post on this:

Working with other people, study groups and using other people’s outlines; Be nice to your fellow students. They are as stressed as you are. If someone is stuck on a point, help them out (the exception to his is legal writing; generally, you are responsible for your own writing and are prohibited from helping others). On the other hand, I, personally, was never a fan of study groups; they always struck me as trying to reduce work; and frankly you need to work on this stuff yourself to learn it. Likewise, using someone else’s outline, you don’t know if they are right; and you didn’t learn anything if someone else developed it. Now, if, near the end of the semester, you want to have a meeting with a small group and compare outlines and maybe discuss hypothetical questions, that’s fine; sometimes someone else will see something you missed; but the primary work should be your own.

            Ronald Jones

"Plaintiff" might be liable for negligence, trespass and nuisance? No wonder your class was clawing at each other... Sorry. Just being playful. ;)

Seriously tho, that was not my experience at all. I went to Northwestern; everyone was generally friendly and helpful.

            Amy A. Breyer, California

I have three pieces of advice.

1. Take a broad variety of courses and try not to specialize too much in one area. Even a specialized practice will involve interactions with other, often unanticipated, areas of law. Also, it is much easier to become knowledgeable about a specialized area after law school than it is to acquire a basic overview of many areas.

2. Never fall behind in your studies. I kept up easily in law school by spending three hours per day studying. Skip one day and you have to study six hours to catch up. Skip two days and it takes nine hours.

After a few days, it becomes nearly impossible to catch up.

3. Reserve judgment on the process of teaching in law school and the value of what you are learning. I ran into lots of instances where other law students and even some practicing attorneys described law school as bull****. Looking back, I think they were wrong. It may not teach you everything you need to practice law successfully, but it gives you the foundation you need in order to learn the rest and do a good job of representing clients. The same can be said for studying medicine, engineering, and art. Life is a learning process and don't let the naysayers denigrate the value of what you are learning.

            Bert Krages, Oregon

“2. Never fall behind in your studies. I kept up easily in law school by spending three hours per day studying. Skip one day and you have to study six hours to catch up. Skip two days and it takes nine hours. After a few days, it becomes nearly impossible to catch up.”

I think this is a good approach.

I had a friend in law school who had taught high school for several years before enrolling in law school. He decided to treat law school like a “real” job: He arrived at 8:00 and worked straight through until 5:00. When he was not in class, he was in the library studying. Every night, he went home and had dinner with his wife, and then they did other stuff together.

By contrast, if most of us had an hour between classes, we’d hang out with friends. Then, we’d have to go home in the afternoon/evening and study for several hours. If you didn’t, then (as Bert observes), you’d fall behind.

But (in retrospect) I think my friend’s approach of spending a normal work day studying, then having your evenings free, probably made more sense.

            Brian H. Cole, California

Yeah. As I note in my blog post:

The first year of law school you are going to taking 15 hours of class per semester; 3 hours of that is going to be legal research and writing and probably 3 substantive courses of 4 hours each; maybe contracts, torts and property, or what have you. That’s 12 hours of substantive courses; figuring 2 hours of prep time for each hour of substantive course you’re looking at 36 hours a week between class and reading cases for class; plus 3 hours on legal writing plus whatever time you spend out of class on your writing assignments; figure another 5 hours there. So, do the math: 15+24+5=44 hours a week. That’s a full time job; that’s about 9 hours a day 5 days a week in class or actually working.

And, frankly, this is where a lot of law students fall down; time management. They have to spend a minimum of 44 hours a week on this stuff; that can be done reasonably efficiently if you are willing to get up, get breakfast, shower, and hit the books before you go to class; once you get out of class you hit the books, eat lunch, hit the books again, go to your afternoon class, hit the books until dinner and them maybe you have some free time in the evening. By hit the books, I mean, cloister yourself in the library, or in your dorm room on campus, and read and brief. I don’t mean, hang out with your buddies in the lounge, watch TV there, play on the internet, go out and have a two hour lunch, or watch Netflix. I mean, walk out of class, find some quiet place and read and brief the cases. If you don’t take advantage of your down time out of class in the daytime, this means you have to spend all of your evening doing the work; and I mean all of the evening; don’t think you can crack your books at 9 pm while keeping an eye on TV or whatever for a couple of hours; It’s not going to work, unless you are up till 3 AM. If you do this, you should have most of most of your weekends reasonably free; to do chores, to socialize, to relax.

            Ronald Jones

I think we speak in generalizations too much. There are a LOT of nontraditional law students. I was one of them. And, I was a lazy one. Well, either lazy or fortunate. We took 11 hours of classes our first year. Crim law. Torts. Contracts. Legal writing (which was only 2 hours).

I worked full time and had a job where I was on call one week a month. I missed class due to work. I also may have spent 3 hours a week studying.

Maybe 4. I took time off before finals and crammed. And I did okay.

I also get that I was not your average student, either full time or nontraditional. I went in with some knowledge of torts and contracts from my day job and I test well. But, everyone is different and we should appreciate those differences.

            Jonathan Stein, California

Get a lot of exercise. It is good for reducing stress, good for your brain, your memory.

            Roger Rosen, California

Oops. And even swapping the parties, I'd STILL get most of the points on the exam!

Friendly and helpful is how I hope we all strive to practice law. But law school pits every student against the rest of the class. Aside from the handful of students who don't care about class rank (which is, frankly, unwise), the goal is simply to beat everybody else. As noted, my advice is not directed toward social encounters, just studies. Don't be an asshole in law school. Just be. . . away. And if you're lost and alone, who is going to be a better resource, your professor (who is writing the test. . . probably based on her conversations with you and others who take the initiative to meet with her), or your fellow lost souls who are still trying to understand the difference between a court's holding and its reasoning?

            Tony LaCroix

I think how cutthroat things are academically probably has a lot to do with the culture of the law school. My experience was much like Amy's. UVA law was very social--maybe too social--and the academics were never cutthroat.

Having a very strong B mean probably had something to do with that. But I have heard stories of other schools where academics were much more competitive and trusting other students unwise.

Personally, I did much of my studying on my own, but got a lot of value out of study sessions with small groups as finals approached. Conversations with the professors helped too, but they were much more helpful for answers to specific questions rather than for helping you to chew on legal concepts and think through their implications.

            Kevin Grierson, Virginia

I will add something very important:

Take care of your mental health. However, you do it, counseling, friends, hobbies, yoga, taxidermy, etc. Law school isn't worth losing your life.

Our class lost a student to suicide in our second year. There were a lot of struggles she was facing, and while not all of them were about school, enough were. She left her 3-year-old son with no parents.

            Drew Winghart, California

But law school pits every student against the rest of the class. Aside from the handful of students who don't care about class rank (which is, frankly, unwise), the goal is simply to beat everybody else. As noted, my advice is not directed toward social encounters, just studies. Don't be an asshole in law school. Just be. . . away. And if you're lost and alone, who is going to be a better resource, your professor (who is writing the test.

. . . probably based on her conversations with you and others who take the initiative to meet with her), or your fellow lost souls who are still trying to understand the difference between a court's holding and its reasoning?

Huh? Let me start with the top:

1. Law school does not have to pit every student against the rest of the class. I went to McGeorge School of Law, or whatever the hell they call it these days. It was competitive but only for the jackasses who made it that way. Plenty of us, especially in the night program, never felt pitted against anyone else. Maybe it was because we were "night students" - we had jobs and families and just wanted to get through the program.

2. It is unwise to care about class rank? Why? I had no idea what my class rank was until graduation - maybe the week before. Never knew. Never cared.

16 or so years later - still don't care. Nor has anyone ever asked me.

Never. Ever. Why would anyone care? Is the person who graduated #1 in the class smarter than anyone else? Probably not. Is the person who graduated last not as smart? Definitely not. Look, I know everyone who graduated in front of me. Of that group, 2 are still practicing law and, while I like them, they can't hold my jock strap in court. Nice people, though. I have referred work to them. They have referred work to me.

Again, though, this shouldn't just be about law school. Why do high school kids care? College kids? Why do we put such an emphasis on made up numbers that don't mean jack squat. My high school graduating class was 812. My class rank was 530 or so. My college class for my major was 32. My class rank was 28. I think I turned out okay.

I know a guy who has invented products that everyone has used. Well, almost everyone. Very well known products. He was almost as bad a student as I was in high school and college. Damn smart in his post-graduate degrees. Not only did he tell me not to worry about grades, but I know an IP attorney who worked with him. The IP attorney always told me this guy was the smartest guy he had ever worked with and he could have done very well anywhere. But, if we were to focus on his grades in school, he probably never would have gotten a chance.’

            Jonathan Stein

Every law school is different, and so is every law student. Do what works for you as far as studying goes. Don't forget about life outside of school.

Make friends in law school, there are some really terrific people going to school with you. There are also some jerks there. Hopefully, you'll be able to sort them out. The friends you make will be great contacts for your life and for your career (and I don't mean this in an instrumental way), as you will be for them. Have fun. Don't take yourself or law too seriously.

Enjoy Law school. You'll probably be working for the rest of your life.

            Miriam N. Jacobson, Pennsylvania

1) Learn the basics of the black letter law before the class starts, from a crib book. Also, learn the vocabulary in advance. That way you'll have a mental "file cabinet" in place, and you can focus on fitting cases and information into it. Old cases are great and interesting but they're not an efficient way to learn basic black-letter law.

2) If you aren't a fast typist, learn to type fast BEFORE school starts.

Take a course, buy a program, whatever it takes. Speed is time; time is flexibility and GPA. I was at 65 wpm and many times I could literally keep up w/ the professor as they would talk (and pause), which meant i had pre-typed notes for papers and take home exams. moreover, on tmed exams i would spend half as much time writing (since I type fast) which gave me that much more time to work on the exam.

3) You probably won't ever be a constitutional attorney. You will, however, have to answer some questions from ordinary people. Consider at least one class in family law, trusts, secure transactions, and corporate.

4) Do law review, if you can.

5) Esoteric knowledge is the engine; life basics are the tires. If you can't write a cogent sentence, fix that. If you don't know how to use semicolons, learn. If you don't have semi-expert knowledge or better of at least one major word processing program; if you don't know how Boolean search works; learn. Etc.

            Erik Hammarlund, Massachusetts

Erik and others, do you know about or recommend any online programs to improve typing skills? Also, does anyone know of any good classes re typing with WordPerfect documents and typing with word documents?

            Roberta Fay, California


I was ranked in the top 25 of my class after my first semester (a girl I liked convinced me to go with her to find out our ranks). I made Dean's list twice. Times I cared? Zero.

In high school, I was 85th out of 700+, and that was only because I sloughed off for the first year-and-a-half (I put in effort when my dad found out I'd be eligible for a small scholarship if I finished in the top 15%). In college? No frickin' clue. I didn't even know how to find out my class rank. Grad school? Don't think they ranked us, but if they did, didn't know how to find out. Why? Because, like Jonathan, no client has ever started a conversation with "what was your class rank?" It only matters to law firms (such as Gibson Dunn, which demands a transcript, no matter how long you've been out of law school, or what you've done - even Obama would have to give them his transcript), and has absolutely zero meaning in life. I've beaten Harvard-educated lawyers in court and had Stanford-educated lawyers compliment my ideas and writing, among others.

And I went to a 'T2' law school.

So with that rant out of the way, what would I advise?

Well, having taken 2 bar exams and the CPA exam, I can say this: don't let others get into your head. Studying in the hallway before an exam is a waste of time - by then, you either know it or you won't. What WILL happen is you will come across some arcane point of law (Section 467 leases) that you won't know, and you'll panic that you're not prepared. And then you'll be in the exam, and the question will be something pretty easy and basic that you knew cold the last 22 years ("what tax form does an individual file?") and you'll stare at the paper, unable to recall the answer. And Section 467 will not be tested at all.

            Gregory Zbylut, California

Prepare for class and be ready to argue. That was how I learned. Studying afterwards didn't do me much good.

            Mitchell Goldstein, Virginia

Take practice tests, multiple times. IRAC.

            Michael Boli, California

My friends in law school made a darkly humorous video (when YouTube was just starting up), and the summation of the video was that the prize in law for success was just more work & eventually one day you will fail for sure, and at that moment, you will feel miserable like the person that failed the first time around, but if you get over it, it will put you on the path to the much easier life of happiness and relaxation that the so-called "failure" always has enjoyed.

It scared the crap out us, but I think a an eerily good moral.

I went to a law school whose motto was "The Place Where Fun Came to Die" - yet I had an amazing 3 years - made some wonderful friends, learned from brilliant profs and students, and it opened doors for the future. And I enjoyed my adopted city alot, and I also worked a lot.

Did I brief every case? No. Was I 100% ready for every class? No. But I did all of it, but on my own pace. Did I get upset at small stuff in law school that I don't even remember 13 years later? Yes, for sure.

Do I love every minute of my work today? No, but I love most of it, and it pays the bills.

There were people in law school that did all of the above, got on law review, and were uber-successful in the law - until one day they didn't get the best clerkship, or job, or promotion to partner, or Top Lawyers award.

It happens to most (if not every) lawyer.

When I went back to my 10-year reunion, I had a chip on my shoulder - "I am just a solo" and these folks are Biglaw partners / in-house / top govt officials - yet I felt this vibe that they envied my freedom and my flexibility. I am not anywhere near to buying that second vacation home, or bribing my kids into USC or Yale (though I do pro bono legal work for their Montessori school, so maybe I can get them some more crayons).

Either you get on the path you want for your career and your life, but that means you quit the path that others feel is right for you.

And tell this 1L not to let anyone tell them they are a failure for doing what is right for them or their family / loved ones. In the end, those are the only people that matter.

            Murtaza Sutarwalla, Texas

More crayons. Lol!

            Amy Breyer

Lots of good advice in this very long thread.

I think this was not mentioned and it just involves the first meetings of 1L classes.

Back in the day it was hallway bulletin boards. Nowadays I am sure it is all digital/online.

FIRST MEETING ADVICE. I speak of getting your class books and learning the assignments for the first meetings.

I did not know this but I had some good luck. I did not have my torts book for the first meeting. Fortunately, I had glanced at my roommate's book and by coincidence the first case in his book was the first case in my as yet unpurchased book.

The first minute of the first meeting of my first class I get called on to come sit down front next to the professor. Turned out the prof wanted us to sit next to him when called on because he was nearly deaf; he had two huge hearing aids on his ears. (He was also way up in years. He drove a 4-door Ford red sedan. All four fenders were dented from him ricocheting around the city. And his forte was torts!)

I was able to recall enough from glancing at the very first case in my roommate's book to bluff my way through.

I doubt if any of my classmates have any memory of that first meeting.

            Rob Robertson, Texas

I turned 40 as a 1L. I knew I needed to take good care of me to keep pace with those decades younger. I stopped drinking caffeine. I made sure to get plenty of sleep and to eat well. I'm convinced that doing so made a difference. I'd do only one thing different. During my last semester I took a non-law school class that was a sampler on different types of relaxation techniques. It would have been very beneficial to have taken it sooner. I was in a year long trial advocacy class that was competitive to get in. The final was a "trial" before a DC Superior Court judge with real rules of evidence. The matter was complex and the judge said a real trial with our issues would have been 4 days. You can imagine the zillions of things going on in my head that were compounded by stress. I did a guided meditation before and my mind was entirely clear. I got the critical piece of evidence in and won.

            Deb Matthews, Virginia

My standard response/advice for every pre-law-school person who asks this = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMvARy0lBLE

            E. Seth Combs, Kentucky

Do I love every minute of my work today? No, but I love most of it, and it pays the bills.

There were people in law school that did all of the above, got on law review, and were uber-successful in the law - until one day they didn't get the best clerkship, or job, or promotion to partner, or Top Lawyers award.

It happens to most (if not every) lawyer.

Well, the other aspect of this is that certain types of lawyers are simply driven; to excel, to wring every billable dollar out of their work, to not leave the office until all work is done or at least until they hit a certain billable hour.

And some of those lawyers lose their marriages; one of my buds from law school basically worked himself into a divorce; his wife wound up running around on him because he wasn't paying attention to her (obviously, the wife had something to do with it but even he concedes he was ignoring family for the sake of working nights and weekends); other lawyer lose their lives; I've mentioned how many lawyers I know locally who have died in their early to mid 50's; Pick up the paper one day and see "X, prominent local attorney, dead at 53" or whatever.

And I've also mentioned, my own uncle, was a lawyer, he used to joke that "in law school I'd stay late at the library and pick up a cold sandwich at 7-11 for dinner; now that I'm a lawyer the difference is I stay late at the office and pick up a hot sandwich at 7-11 for dinner'. Ha Ha. John died one Friday morning; his secretary left his office to type a letter, comes back 10 minutes later and he's slumped over the desk dead from a heart attack. John was 42. Jesus. Sorry, but G-D. Unfortunately, that's the way certain types of lawyers think and act.

Personally, I resolved to try to do well in law school but also keep some study-life balance; I did reasonably well; wound up with cum laude degree, was on law review, but as staff, not editor, received one book award, received (smallish) scholarship 2nd and 3rd years, was awarded a (small) fellowship but I certainly wasn't top 5 % or even 10%. On the other hand, I had the better part of my evenings free, went home most weekends, saw movies, read novels, did some non course related law readings (mostly relating to legal history) and frankly, didn't stress over law school any more than I had to.

            Ronald Jones

Not exactly advice, but if your friend wants to know what makes people go to large professional firms (large law firms, large accounting firms, large consulting firms, etc.), a recent book suggests that the people drawn to those firms are “insecure overachievers.”

See: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180924-are-you-an-insecure-overachiever  

Those are people who are "exceptionally capable and fiercely ambitious, but driven by a profound belief in their own inadequacy.”

            Brian H. Cole

I see lots of good advice here. I don't know where they are going, but here's my 2 cents as a person who actually enjoyed law school:

1.) Have some idea of what you want to do with your career before you sign on to a huge amout of debt. If you go to a fancy school like I did, and were paying for it yourself, you will be stuck on a much narrower path for several years while you work a ton of hours in a potentially miserable environment and pay off that debt. I made that choice because I was afraid I couldn't get a good job if I didn't go to that kind of school I was wrong. Many wonderful firms will hire the best students from any decent law school, so saving a hundred thousand dollars and going to a respected state school will not significantly limit your employment options if you do well.

2.) Realize that law school isn't your whole life, life is life. I didn't hang out with the uber competitive kids at school and I NEVER studied in the library. Yes, it was a pretty building but the tension and stress are palpable in those places. I went to class, and left. Don't get me wrong, I'm very competitive, but I recognized the path to a nervous breakdown when I saw one. No one needs unnecessary pressure. I found a small group of amazing people who became life-long friends. We all regularly engaged in local outings, dinners, happy hours on a local patio, etc., as our studies allowed. It made law school bearable and that group was my refuge. Find one of your own.

3.) Exercise and mind your health. Obviously, law school can be stressful.

Whether you live relatively close to campus and walk, or enjoy going to the gym, make sure you get some regular activity into your schedule. I was allowed to use the tiny law school gym and the huge one at main campus. It was a bus ride away, but very much worth it.

4.) Do a clinic if you have any interest in litigation. I was able to start my first job with court experience under my belt, which was a huge comfort. Plus, I represented clients whose stories are still with me today. It was a big personal reward.

5.) See if you can find past exams given by your professor in your classes, but do not expect they will be the same. Our library kept copies of old exams, but in at least one of my classes, the professor completely changed the exam in every possible way and it was not helpful. In others, they only slightly changed the hypotheticals.

6.) Do not fall into the trap of joining a study group on a mission to create a 300 page outline. It will NOT help. I used the outline function in Word to take notes in class directly into my laptop (which I bought from a classified ad in the newspaper and had less memory than my kid's basic smartphone, ha ha). Those became my outlines, which I then reduced to no more than 5-10 pages per class. Those short, bullet-point outlines were priceless after I figured out that's what would help me.

7.) Go to class. Do the reading.

Enjoy, it is an experience you won't forget.

            Deena L. Buchanan, New Mexico

Macros – Who Uses Them and Should I?

To the Collective:

I just listened to Asian Efficiency Podcast (TPS241) on automation and the bit on Macros has piqued my interest. I've always thought they were too tech-ie and "above my pay grade."

Does anyone on the List use them?

What sorts of tasks and how many links in the chain before it becomes too overwhelming?


For starters, I think any icon you click on in any app is a macro. So we all use them. Beyond that, I use self created macros in two main places.

One, I have shortcuts on my Windows tool bar and in web browsers that I added.

Two, I have quite a few macros created in WordPerfect, some I created, some stock, and some created personally for me. They have saved me hundreds of hours of time over the years.

For example, click an icon and my letterhead opens, letter is dated, cursor moves to where I start typing. Click an icon, client mailing list opens, search box opens, type name, hit enter, client name and address found. Highlight, click another icon, name and address are pasted into open letterhead.

Document assembly works in a similar fashion. I can create a customized 30 page fill-in-the-few-blanks Will in less than 5 minutes.

Not sure how you would count the links in the chain.

            Henry R. Reckler, Colorado

I use and have used macros in Excel for moving large amounts of data around. For example, suppose that a bank gives you deposit or credit card activity in a .CSV file and there's 3,000 rows. You want to pull out just the date and merchant name or otherwise perform the same routine operation on all 3,000 or 20,000 rows.

I know you can apply the same automation idea to other functions on a computer using scripts (I think that's what they are called. I might be wrong). I always thought automating routine tasks on the computer was one thing that could really bump the typical knowledge worker's productivity way up. I haven't run in to software that easily allows for automation, though.

            Andy Chen, California

Did you say WordPerfect? I’ve heard of that. Does it come with an abacus?

            Jerry W. Cain, Jr., Georgia

Abacus good.

            Henry R. Reckler

About the WordPerfect macros that you developed:

1. what instructions/procedures did you follow?

2. is there a guidebook for setting up macros in WordPerfect?

3. did you hire someone to set up most of the macros in WordPerfect for your practice? The ones that were created for you --- can you give me the name and contact info of the pertinent party?

Thanks very much for your email to the group. I stay with WordPerfect, if only due to reveal codes and the more intuitive feel of WordPerfect.

            Roberta Fay, California

Roberta, I will be happy to answer your questions, but I am by no means a guru. There are many on the list far better with WP.

1. I am now using WP X7. I haven't found a reason to upgrade from there. But I started with Smana Word and the graduated to WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS in the very late 80s. So I have been at it for over 35 years. As I recall, back in the day the manuals were voluminous, and meant to be read, and at least in part I did. That was the start. But from there, I simply learned from doing. In more recent years I have created less macros, but if you want to give it a try my way, start here. WP macro files are all .wcm files. You can do a search and see where they are located. Double click a wcm file and it will run the macro. If you see one useful as is, you can put a link to it on your tool bar. Next step, if you want to modify one to suit you, open WP, go to tools|macro|edit, and open a simple macro file in the editor. You can see the details, and modify them, and save the result (IN A DIFFERENT FILE SO YOU DON'T DESTROY THE ORIGINAL). Trial and error.

2. I expect there are a number of guidebooks, but I do not know of any. There are, or at least used to be, many online sources to explain issues and provide free macros. I haven't had occasion to look for some time. Try https://www.wptoolbox.com/ and for sure https://www.macros.koenecke.us/ . The latter is Michael Koenecke's work. He is our resident guru.

3. I probably have about 2 dozen macros I use. I created and set them up by myself, with one exception. One document assembly macro I had created many years ago stopped working properly. I hired Michael Koenecke to update if for me about 15 years ago. He rewrote it from scratch, as I recall. It took a few drafts. Then I then modified it for use in other situations. However, much I paid Michael was not enough. It has been invaluable.

If you have specific questions, I would be happy to walk you through anything off-list to the extent of my limited knowledge and ability. The one bit of fatherly advice I would offer, after playing with macros for over 35 years, is don't get started unless you are inclined to follow through. It is addicting to get it just right, but frustrating, can be a serious problem, and is definitely time waster if a macro doesn't do exactly what you want it to do.

            Henry R. Reckler

This is great, thank you! Henry, I really appreciate your offer to talk to me off-line. If appropriate, at the end of this week or next week, I will contact you about this subject area. ((I cannot find a "legal typist" or experienced "typist" for my practice needs here locally, and this creates a real bottleneck for me. That is the basis of my desire to follow through and create suitable short-cuts and/or macros.))

            Roberta Fay

Henry's quite right. A few added comments:

Gordon McComb is kind of the ultimate WordPerfect macro guy. He has a step-by-step macro tutorial available on his site: http://www.gmccomb.com/ .

I got to give a talk at an ABA conference some years ago, and have left it and its materials up on my Macros site; perhaps that might be helpful to you too. (http://macros.koenecke.us/aba).

I, personally, just learned by experimentation and reading Help files.

It's also helpful to use the Record feature within a macro, do some things, and see what the resulting code looks like. I'm happy to help others with their own macros too. As a general principle, do keep thinking about variables in the environment, and how they might cause your macro to either crash or produce something unexpected.

Since, like Henry, I've pretty much had my go-to macros set for years, more recently I've been into tweaking my merge forms for more efficiency and usefulness (especially with respect to estate planning forms). For instance, some years ago I was pleased to come up with a macro I called MultiMerge, where you would have a list of forms for, say, estate planning or business organization, and they would all be merged at once with the same data file. I figured out fairly recently that I could obtain a similar or better result by tweaking a macro called MergePlus, which now has the option to merge all form or shortcut files found in a particular folder at once (and has a "One Step" option to go straight to the end documents).

It works pretty well, but is different from how I thought things worked best years ago. It's always fun to figure out a new way to enhance efficiency. Please let me know if I can be of any help as well.’

            Michael A. Koenecke, Texas

Thanks very much for sharing all this info! I will definitely follow through. Henry and Michael are wonderful to share their experiences and ideas with all of us.

            Roberta Fay

Love the List.

Thank you for the tips.

I have my work cut out for me.

Be well.

            Michael J. Sweeney, Connecticut

There are more to macros beyond WordPerfect. I am a Mac user and use macros in AppleScripts and Automator to not only do advanced word processing but also to a host of file management tasks. These macros can also be used in conjunction with "regular expressions" which is useful for really powerful searches.

            Ernest Schaal, Japan

No but you forgot a slide rule with rule!

            Randy Birch, Utah

I still have mine from high school, but I don't remember how to use it.

            Henry R. Reckler

We always used WordPerfect, and I had about 50 macros for use in letters.

As such, I could often crank out a full-page letter in just a couple of minutes. We used the same sentences in much correspondence, and after a time I could hear just the first couple of words in my dictation and anticipate the rest of the paragraph. We put out a lot of mail each day, due in part to the previous secretary's creation of macros. I just added to the collection.

            Marilou Auer, a retired legal secretary

I use macros all the time. I have a little app called TypeItIn and a companion app called PasteItIn that I use multiples times a day, every day.

You just push a button on the floating app, and it types in stuff wherever you want - like my name, address, phone, email, or legal boilerplate, even entire agreements, etc. Very useful when responding to discovery requests/objections. Paid very little for apps - they are sold here:

https://www.wavget.com/ (i have no affiliation with them).

            Eugene Lee, California

I use macros in various places but I also love to use autoreplace. this is a user-editable feature in MS Office which will take a set of letters and expand them into a longer word/phrase.

Depending on your practice there will be a benefit to both. Macros store more information, and they can provide a much larger speed benefit--but they are more specialized in terms of uses and take longer to set up.

Autoreplace seems (at first) like it won't make much of a difference but it will radically increase your typing speed and accuracy which also has a benefit.

So, for example, i have all my local towns coded:

vhvh=Vineyard Haven

vhvhvh = Vineyard Haven, MA, 02568

I have myself coded:

eheh = Hammarlund Law Office

eheheh = Hammarlund Law Office, 10 State Road Unit B-3, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568

I have single words coded:

pfp = plaintiff

pfps = plaintiffs

jsj = jurisdiction

jdj = judgment

ctc= Constitutional


i have phrases coded:

dcrd = Dukes Country Registry of Deeds

rdcrd = recorded at the Dukes County Registry of Deeds at Book

and so on.

            Erik Hammarlund, Massachusetts

This immediately made me think of Ross Kodner and his ranting and raving about how horrible MS Word is. Many of us remember the huge debate about Word Perfect vs. Word on Solosez.

That said, a woman gave a presentation on Word at Techshow two years ago and it was great. I would love to really understand it and maximize my use of it. Does anyone remember her name?

Recommended books? I still have those TechShow .pdfs on my phone with the intention of reading them.

            Andrea Goldman, Massachusetts


I use a program called ActiveWords that will search and replace, go to websites, go to documents, folders, etc. from across all Windows programs.

For example:

x = X-1 Search [You can type the "x" from anywhere. You don't have to find the stupid icon.]

511 = Cary, NC 7511

526 - Fuquay Varina, NC 27526 [I do the same thing for a dozen Raleigh zip codes. I just need to know the last three digits.] robg = Royal Oaks Building Group, LLC [I really like this one]

wp7 = WordPerfect X7

ss = §

pp = ¶

hf = ☺

js = opens my default scan folder from our large scanner mem = opens a new email to Michelle in Outlook

It also handles misspellings, contractions and other stuff, some of which I don't understand.

You can add stuff on the fly. It is great for that unusual foreign name of 25 characters that you need to type 25 times in a real estate closing.

I like being able to use the same shortcuts across most of the programs I use.

One bad thing is you get to where you just pound out stuff and forget spellings and contractions because you don't have to know them.

Nope, no commission or kickback to me, just a happy user!

The president of the company is an attorney and lurks here on occasion. We may get a comment from him . .

I can't remember if the following is his mantra or one I came up with:

*Goal: Avoid doing stupid repetitive tasks! Eliminate crap so you can concentrate on the hard stuff!*

A question for the Word macro experts. I grew up with WordPerfect and their macro/merge language. Can I do everything in Word I could do in WordPerfect? I have several forms I need to convert to Word.

t = Thanks!

            Jim Pardue, North Carolina


I think I pay $30 each year as a single user of Active Words. It is so worth it to me. It just makes my life easier.

I compare it to whether or not I should embed my commission expiration date onto my notary stamp. The notary training classes in NC recommend that you don't put the date on the stamp because you will have to change it . . .every five years. I estimate that in doing 6-800 real estate closings a year I will notarize 6-8,000 documents over five years. I am delighted to pay $5 for the new notary pad to avoid remembering and writing that date 6-8,000 times. And that assumes that I don't wear out the plastic self-inking contraption and have to replace the whole thing anyway. Yes, I splurge on the self-inking style and dispense with the ink pad too.

Remember the goal:

*Avoid doing stupid repetitive tasks! Eliminate crap so you can concentrate on the hard stuff!*


            Jim Pardue

Thanks! Never would have thought of these things.

            Roberta Fay

Was it Adriana Linares?

Disclaimer: I have never been Adriana Linares, nor a lawyer. My lawyer is also not Adriana Linares.

            Ben M. Schorr, Washington

I use ActiveWords (and have for a long time). It is similar to autoreplace, but works in every app, on the web, etc. So I have my address coded and when I have to fill it in anywhere it is just a few keystrokes. I use it in my timekeeping program (PCLaw) for descriptions of tasks that I do regularly.

It is really powerful and has saved me a lot of time. In addition to autoreplace, I use it to open documents I use a lot, open programs, and open websites. I have used its scripting function to do more complex tasks like "take this document, add a custom header, add visible gridlines on the table, and print in landscape".

            Caroline A. Edwards, Pennsylvania

I am pretty sure the $30 annual charge is for a personal license, meaning that you can download and use ActiveWords on multiple devices if you are the sole user.

            Caroline A. Edwards

I make heavy use of the auto correct for:

Town (with abbreviations and zip code and full spelling w/o zip code)

Town County State

[Municipal] Land Records

[Municipal] Town Clerk’s Office

l/nofo = land now or formerly of

a/sosm = as shown on said map

All in Word and Excel documents

How about for file naming when in a dialog box?

YYYY.MM.DD Ltr 00X (Addressee) - Annnotation

What about in Acrobat full version?

Does anyone have thoughts about

Phone Numbers/ SSNs / EINs




(203) 244-9522

Excel has this for cell format... can it be done elsewhere?

As I dabble in the Google Docs and Sheets, I am looking for similar functionality. If Windows goes to seat licenses the way Office has, I need a Plan B

            Michael J. Sweeney, Connecticut

I use AutoHotKey language to make macros or text substitutions that work with most software applications. I primarily use AHK for text substitution, entering the letters 'zc' (without pressing any other key or spacebar) places the signature block to any email I am drafting. I have another code to enter signature blocks to the few letters I write, I can fill out web site forms or enter user name using AHK. Other scripts or substitutions may include two or three letters to insert '§ ' in a pleading.

The official website with downloads and user forums is at www.autohotkey.com.

Other resources discussing AHK ,


I recently read about software to write scripts for google apps/android. https://www.howtogeek.com/410451/how-to-supercharge-your-google-apps-with-the-script-editor/

I have not used the software. There is a tutorial offered by Ben Collins about drafting macros for Google documents, https://www.benlcollins.com/automation-with-apps-script


There is a $ 199.00 cost. Registration ends on May 3, 2019. I have not taken the course and am not paid to promote the course.

            Richard P. Schmitt, Maryland

Reflections on an Anniversary (Continued)

See https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/resources/solosez/popular-threads-2019/2019-03-threads/ for the beginning of Reflections on an Anniversary

Back in 2000, I was a young mom with a 3 and 10-month old juggling a part-time schedule and toying with the idea of starting a new website that would later become MyShingle. I decided to do some due diligence on existing websites for solo and small firm practice and in my search, stumbled across MyShingle and signed up - largely for research purposes.

But very quickly, I was drawn in by the conversation and support. A month later, I learned of the monthly lunches held in Bethesda - fortuitously, just 5 blocks from my house - and I began attending, meeting solosezzers face to face, first locally and then throughout the country - in Boston and Birmingham, Minneapolis and Iowa and San Francisco and LA and Chicago and New York City and Santa Fe.

In 2001 - right after 9/11, I was part of the first Solosez class that was jointly admitted to the Supreme Court. My husband - who had been working on a contract in Alabama flew in for the occasion - I didn't think it was all that big a deal, but he was so proud. We managed to sneak our daughters - then 5 and 2 into the courtroom where my older daughter sat very quietly and obediently next to Neal Kennedy's daughters. Meanwhile, my younger daughter was in the gallery with my husband and as the swearing in's started, she began to scream. My husband had to haul her out of the courtroom, and all I can remember from that point forward were the loud shrieks of my daughter outside the courtroom. My husband missed the swearing in but when we were finished, I took over childcare and he watched the next case.

In addition to the swearing-in, solosez was a source of multiple other gifts. I wrote the chapter on How Not to Be Lonely in Solo Practice in Flying Solo and a cheaper on Cold Calling in the marketing book edited by Jennifer Rose. I met other lawyers who started out as on-line acquaintances and evolved into close personal friends and mentors. Most of all, I will never forget the outpouring of kindness and support from this list after my husband died. As I've mentioned before, these days, I tend to spend more time in different communities on Facebook and Slack but the one thing that has always set Solosez apart is the generosity of the lawyers on this list.

Everyone here is genuinely committed to helping colleagues and improving the profession in a way that is markedly absent from other fora where most of the people who offer advice are also out to make a buck.

Since I joined this list, the passage of time has been palpable. My husband is gone and my daughters are grown - my older daughter who was just a kindergartner at the SCOTUS swearing-in is a college grad with a year of teaching under her belt who will be starting a Phd program in theoretical mathematics at Syracuse University (go Orange!) in the fall with full tuition benefits and a $28k fellowship for her first year. My younger daughter who shrieked in the SCOTUS hallway is finishing her sophomore year at college - a math major like her sister and working towards a joint BA and Masters education in 4 years and is also president of her sorority. I will turn 55 at the end of next month - the same age or older as so many of the sezzers who were mentors to me when I joined the list. Who knew how fast the time would fly? I just know that when I hit the send button to join solosez, I could have never imagined what it would lead to so much all these years later.

            Carolyn Elefant, District of Columbia

Warning Signs from Potential Clients

Selecting clients is a bit of an art; and I know it takes some experience; sometimes it comes down to a 'feel'. But for the newbie lawyers, newbie solo and such here's a couple of warning signs:

Client does not want to, or refuses to do, what you tell them. Sometimes there's a good reason; but you need to evaluate the reason. Just had potential client in here and one of the things I told him was to report the incident to the local police. He refused; he started complaining about how the local "sheriffs" were unprofessional and then related a story about the local sheriff in Hillsborough County when he reported something.

Now, I mean, yeah, Hillsborough. I hear stories about them. Never encountered them personally but I do hear stuff. I don't know whether they are professional or not personally but you hear stories. Nonetheless, we were not dealing with Hillsborough but Marion and in my experience, Marion is, at least under our current sheriff, pretty dang professional. But he just refused to do so.

"If she gets a letter from a lawyer, she'll change her mind". Usually, not, in my experience; if you really want to bring someone to the table then file suit and serve.

"Can't you just threaten her". Uh, with what? IF he was willing to make a criminal report I could threaten her with a civil action based on the same facts but I'm not about to threaten he with a criminal action; and if he's not willing to make a criminal report I'm not about to sue her or threaten to do so civilly. And the other stuff she's done is not tortious.

Changing facts; he presented the case over the phone one way, when he got here, well, the facts were somwehat different.

Just things to watch out for.

            Ronald Jones, Florida

Just had a case I turned away. Potential client filed a copyright lawsuit in federal court pro se (with a lawyer ghostwriting the pleadings, I'm pretty sure), hired a lawyer, then fired him shortly thereafter. If you are lawyer #2 (or 3 or 4) that isn't necessarily a show stopper, but it's definitely a signal to slow down and figure out what's really going on before diving in.

            Kevin Grierson, Virginia

Um, I wouldn't need to know much more than you've written to say to myself, Danger Will Robinson! In my practice area (employment law), if a PC like that came to me with multiple red flags, I'd run for the hills.

            Eugene Lee, California

I just had a potential client call wanting me to review a letter and respond to it – I gave her my hourly rate and what I wanted for a retainer and her response was “Why would you want a retainer? My boyfriend is a lawyer and I could just have him do the response but he does not do environmental law.” My reply was: “Because I have had people in the past ask me to review things and write a letter or response and I never got paid.” Her response was to say “Oh” and then hang up.

Get the money up front!!

            Walter D. James III, Texas

Ditto to James. And, if you tell the PC what it will roughly cost to defend the (obviously frivolous) claim all the way through trial and their response is something like "there's no way this should cost that much" or "there's no way I'd ever pay that much" or "there's no way I can afford to pay that much," take them at their word and pass on the case.

Actually, take pretty much any "there's no way" statement as a major red flag....

            Jeremy Vermilyea, Washington

Good points, Ron!

I can add:

PC tells you it is an easy case despite all evidence to the contrary.

PC is uncomfortable talking about the legal fees aspect of representation and balks at the requirement to post a retainer.

PC wants to control everything, and use you to give them legitimacy - they want to draft the letter and have you put it on your letterhead. Um, no.

The best advice I can give is that if a potential client (or current client as well) gives you that uneasy feeling, or asks you to do something that you are not comfortable with, it is time to withdraw or not take on the matter. I don't think I have ever had a situation where I said "Wow, I had bad feeling about this client at first but it's all turned out great!" I have learned to trust that feeling and just say "nope" to that PC.

            Caroline A. Edwards, Pennsylvania

The WORST warning sign:

Client's retainer check bounces.

            Russ Carmichael, Pennsylvania

On the subject of warning signs for potential clients, people might enjoy my Red Flag Client Bingo card (which circulated here a few years back) at the following link:


            L. Maxwell Taylor, Vermont

I just had a potential client who urgently needed something done. I prepared an invoice and services agreement requiring payment in full up front, because past experience has taught me once I solve the emergency, I may not get paid. She said can I pay you half in three weeks I said no. She went on about how she was going to need to move money around and it was going to take time. I said no. No, no and no. Multiple times

I have learned, NEVER care more about what a client needs done, than what they are willing to invest in getting it done.

The following day she sent me an email. Well, something happened so I am going to move money tonight because now it really needs to get done. I said no.

            Margaret Wadsworth, South Carolina

"I have learned, NEVER care more about what a client needs done, than what they are willing to invest in getting it done."

I have also learned this from experience. So true.

            Amy A. Breyer, California

PC tells you that they have done all of the work and you just need to show up for trial.... next week. Oh, and the judge is angry and won't grant "another" continuance even though PC just fired her other lawyer a week before trial. Why did she fire her lawyer after multiple continuances a week before trial? She wants to sue him, too, in a "class action."

She also has no money, which is why she is doing "all" of the work and just needs me to quickly review three years of a litigation file and show up at trial. It wouldn't take much time (she said) because she was organizing everything so well.

That actually happened in January and I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.

            Deena Buchanan, New Mexico

Good for you, Margaret. There are some situations in which one decides to work on the promise of future payment. Sometimes that does not work out and causes one to become hesitant to do so in the future and to be less trusting of the class of humans called potential clients. But sometimes such an accepted but risky engagement becomes a lucrative one or leads to a profitable relationship.

As always, “people will come to you, but you can’t help everyone.”

            Roger M. Rosen, California

I often except half of the payment at the conclusion of the service, but only where the client has skin in the game. They need something from me that they are not going to get unless they pay their balance.

In an extremely rare circumstance I will accept a payment plan, but ONLY if as back up the client signs authorization for the credit card to be billed directly by me if they renege. I have never forged a lucrative relationship with any PC that hasn't paid a deposit of some kind. Nor have I ever gotten a lucrative referral from one. I pay my doctor at the time of service, heck I even pay my vet at time of service. My clients need to pay me at the time of service as well. And if, as in this circumstance, they pretend they can't and then reveal that they can, that is a difficult client I want nothing to do with. So it's not that I "can't" help everyone, it's that I don't want to.

I find myself MUCH happier in my practice now than when i thought I "owed" something to PC's who had paid me nothing.

            Margaret Wadsworth

Biggest red flag of all-time is when the client begins their sentence with something like "...see, the last two attorneys I talked to said....." yeah sorry, if 2 other attorneys passed on your case, then chances are all but certain that I should too.

Another sure-fire (and cheap & easy!) signal to reject/decline/bail/abort is a quick search of the online court records. If they are coming to me with a case that requires me to scroll down for 2 minutes before reaching the bottom of the 'case history' window, then I want absolutely nothing to do with it for any amount of money. That is usually a sign if imminent and incalculable pain & torment from which there is no return.

            E. Seth Combs, Kentucky

"I read on [insert unreliable Internet source]. . .


My second cousin's boyfriend's roommate had a case like this and they got [insert way better outcome].

            Matt Cree

I would take Seth's a step farther: GOOGLE THEM! Yes, while they are on the phone with me, I get their name and enter it into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and then run it through Google. See what pops up. Once had a PC talk to me. She had a really interesting case. I probably would have taken it. But when I googled her name, I found a news article that talked about her recent arrest for making terroristic threats on an airplane. Sure, she is innocent until proven guilty, but it was enough of a red flag that I decided to walk away. (She ended up entering a plea deal, which would have killed her PI case.)

            Jonathan Stein, California

In addition to googling your PC, if they are not a US citizen, it’s a good idea to do an OFAC search to make sure they are not on a sanctions list.

            Kevin Grierson


            Roger M. Rosen

Office of foreign assets control. They have a searchable database of people on the sanctions list.

            Kevin Grierson

Great thread. I’ve, as probably most, learned the hard way.

“I’ve researched it on google and they cannot fire me if I am on workers Comp.”

“It shouldn’t take long to just read the letter and tell me what you think.”

RESPONSE - oh I could read the letter in about 5 minutes because I know how to read. But analyzing it, the legal impact, and relying on my years of experience and then exercising my judgement to try to advise you to minimize risk or know your exposure takes just a tad bit longer.”

Had a referral who was presented with an employment contract to be executive chef for a new restaurant opening, he said it’s only 3 pages, I said I typically do this on a flat fee review consider and meet with the P.C. for $750.00. My engagement agreement is clear about scope.

The contract was worth over $300,000.

He said nah I have a friend that is a lawyer who will do it for me..


            Anthony Minchella, Connecticut

What was Your Best Day as a Solo?

I'm four months in to this new adventure and there have been some days when I question why I left my job with reliable income for something not at all guaranteed. The rest of the time, I'm more relaxed and happy about what I do than I've been in the last 21 years. Today was a really good day.

I'm curious, what is the best day you've had as a solo/small firm practitioner and why?

The day I told my boss (me) that I am taking 2 weeks off for vacation in June to spend time visiting with family and friends and my boss couldn’t complain or reject my request.

            Matthew Rosenthal

The day when my firm's cash inflows beat my all of cash outflows for the month and I told my wife, hey, this might actually work. To which she replied, it better. Regardless, for me, my worst day in business (and I've had some doozies) is better than my best day working for someone else.

            Eugene Lee, California

There are a few:

- Getting voted in as co-chair of my court's Bench-Bar Liaison Committee (that also happened while I was noticeably pregnant, so thanks to the awesome attorneys who didn't let a little thing like pregnancy get in my way)

- Going up to the podium after my name was announced as President-Elect of my Inn

- Working a 4 day work-week when my son was little, so I had Mommy Mondays to spend with him, and my clients understanding that!

- Telling my clients they got their discharge. This never gets old. It is one of my favorite moments in each case. Other favorites, figuring out the math for a tricky plan, getting a case confirmed (again, never gets old), and those thank you notes and occasional gifts you get from thankful clients.

Being a solo has afforded me the time I needed to have a family, to volunteer, and to really be there for my clients. Oh, and let's not forget, I have the ability to turn down those red flag clients. Now, if I don't always turn them down, that's on me, but I have the choice to say "no thanks."

            Corrine Bielejeski, California

I don't know if there is a "best day."

From a legal perspective:

Winning my first (and only) appeal. Oral argument in my appeal, which is the only time either of my parents saw me in court. (My mom flew up.) Beating a cocky senior partner in trial for a client who was in the Navy.

From a personal perspective:

Never missing any of my kids' school events. Being able to go back to coaching high school soccer.

            Jonathan Stein, California

I am loving these stories!

My day was good because I am starting to feel the flow of the new practice and things are coming together on the business side and the work side.

Yesterday was a great day for a bunch of small reasons, nothing momentous.

-I sent out my first bill, which I figured out how to do through my accounting/time/firm management software and it looked very professional.

I was super proud because that side of the business was a little intimidating to me at first. I've held off sending bills while I was figuring out the sytems but I should be able to send out a handful more and

- yay- have some cashflow!

-I was hired on some new matters that I'm excited about. The meetings with the plaintiff employment PCs were so nice because I could see them feel lighter after hearing that someone believed them and wanted to help.

-A new client called just to check with me on something. It was just a .1 call, but I felt so good that they trust me and it could be a great relationship long term.

-Maybe the best thing was being home in time to cook dinner for the kids and watch a movie on Netflix after a very busy day with no guilt about billable requirements.

I am finally starting to trust that this is going to be good for us after lots of ups and downs over the last few months!

            Deena Buchanan, New Mexico

My best day as a solo was the day we got a ³not guilty² for a death-eligible capital defendant.

            Eric C. Davis, Alabama

There have of course been many "best" days.

I do litigation, criminal and civil. One of the consequences of that is that one (sometimes all) party walks out of the courtroom angry, disappointed, and ticked-off at the world.

Except after ONE type of court appearance, when everybody walks out happily - an adoption. It is invariably a magical moment. I seek them out and do them for free just because of how good they make me feel afterwards. Plus, you usually get invited to a lunch at Chuckee Cheese!

I've talked to judges who preside over adoptions, and they ALL feel the same way.

            Russ Carmichael

After thirty years of practice, my best day was just this past January. I had my first solo jury trial, and it involved a nuisance case where a neighbor was harassing my gay, middle-aged client. We won everything!

The neighbor has to pay my client $27,000.00 after a campaign of harassment that has lasted ten years (straight from my closing). I have never had such a happy client. When the jury came back and we were waiting for a verdict, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

I handle mostly construction matters, which can be quite emotional, but nothing like this.

            Andrea Goldman, Massachusetts

The day opposing counsel rang me up and prefaced his settlement offer (which my client would accept) with, "well, I just got yelled at by my claims rep"

            L. Maxwell Taylor, Vermont

The days when I help someone in a way that truly impacts their life. It might not seem personally that it would, but the work actually impacted them in a positive way because of what I know how to do. That's a good day.

            Reta McKannan, Alabama

I had a client fighting a mortgage company to save her house. They agreed on a loan modification but did not process her payment until after the deadline. They tried to foreclose twice despite a preliminary injunction pending. I filed and they agreed to stop. They started again and I stopped it permanently.

In another case, the deed and deed of trust were a mess. One of the parties was in bankruptcy (I took on the mortgage issue for her case). Another party was in a home with potential mental capacity issues. A third party was in chapter 7. All three were related. We settled after mediation and the mortgage company and attorneys realized they couldn't beat us.

            Mitchell Goldstein, Virginia

As someone else said, I could not point to THE best day. I have been solo for 35 years, so there had better be more than one really good day, and there were. A few stand out.

When I announced that l was leaving big law to go solo, I was shunned by my now former partners. They openly wished me failure. One really good day was about 15 years later when that firm imploded over money. Just sayin'. . . .

Every time a client has been appreciative of the difficulty and therefore cost of the work done, and yet paid promptly, and added a thank you, was a really good day. One such client in particular was a client long enough to experience that the "quick and dirty" work he sometimes asked for, to save money, which I refused to do, would have been a mistake. Years later when the shit coulda, woulda hit the fan but for. . ., he openly recognized it and thanked me profusely. That sort of recognition was a great day.

Six months ago I announced my impending retirement. Some clients I have yet to hear from, but each time I received one of the half a dozen or so handwritten notes, congratulating me and thanking me for being there for them in times of real need, was a really great day. It told me I had made a difference. The best was a client who called immediately and left a simple message: "Congratulations. But I find your decision totally unacceptable."

            Henry R. Reckler, Colorado

When I won the first case I ever had and got a beautiful thank you note that now hangs in my waiting room.

When I declined my first obnoxious client and remembered what it was like having a corporate boss who would tell me to get along with bullies (impossible!).

Anytime I'm burnt out and I take off, leaving my phone behind, and go shopping for an hour. Being able to take care of personal matters such as appointments whenever I darn well please.

All the lovely clients I am privileged to serve, most of whom greatly appreciate me.

Being able to use all my skills (business, marketing etc.) not just legal.

Being able to have my own personal touch in marketing materials. Having a business that reflects who I am as a person and what I value most, and doing only the type of law I most enjoy (estate planning and elder law planning, no litigation).

So much freedom and happiness comes to me from being solo, I would never in a million years do anything else.

            Margaret Wadsworth, South Carolina

What a great answer. I, self-appointed judge, award Margaret first prize.

            Shell Bleiweiss, Illinois

Having been a solo for 25-1/2 years, I have had a lot of professionally satisfying days, which are not directly related to being a solo. The things that have been great about being a solo:

- Being able to attend every just about every sports and school event, be a "Classroom Parent" to help with parties, pick up my son from school every day, and just "be there" while my son was growing up in ways that I would not have been able to if I was working for someone else. Now that my son is in college, it is just great to be able to have flexibility in my schedule without having to answer to anyone.

- Being able to make every decision without having to listen to someone else's opinion - particularly hardware and software purchases, and office policies and procedures, but also accepting and keeping clients. This is a biggie for me because it would drive me crazy to see a better way to do something and have to wait until it gets through some approval process to even have a prayer of getting it done.

- Memorable day - the first day I opened my office, a client from the firm I had worked at called me at 8 am to be sure to be the very first client I signed up.

For some reason, moving from a regular guaranteed income to one that is reliant on client payments never really bothered me. I did make a resolution when I started that I would send out invoices on the first (or closest business day) every month, and I have kept to that.

            Caroline A. Edwards, Pennsylvania