August 31, 2011 Practice Points

Easing the Changeover from Solo Practice to Small-Firm Operation

By Bobbie K. Ross

The transition from solo practitioner to head honcho at a small law firm can be a tough one, but in his article, Small Law: How to Transition from Sole Practitioner to Small Law Firm Without Growing Pains, former solo-turned-small-firm principal Joshua Stein shares some tips that will help ease the way.

Among the lessons learned by Stein and shared with others is the idea that working "amidst chaos" is a bad idea—even if it's "organized chaos." To help keep things in order, Stein suggests using an online document management system and sticking with a consistent method for the naming of documents and versions of documents.

Stein also offers other helpful suggestions for those thinking of turning their solo practice into a small firm, such as creating and maintaining an office procedures manual, having extra supplies (including printers and monitors) on hand at all times, and buying items that are used on a regular basis (such as paper and printer cartridges) in bulk. In addition, Stein proposes that lawyers forgo secretarial support "if they are comfortable and facile with computers" and hire "recent college graduates who got high grades from great schools." He also states that small firms should make sure the associates they hire are computer savvy as well.

The full article, which contains more of Stein's tips on moving from solo practice to operating a small firm, including his warnings concerning possible hiccups with payroll taxes and the use of independent contractors, can be found on the TechnoLawyer blog.

Bobbie K. Ross, Michel & Associates, P.C., Long Beach, CA

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