By the numbers, solo and small firms are the places to be. According to statistics from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP, for short), employment patterns for recent law school graduates entering private practice have trended toward small and solo firms in recent years. ABA demographics suggest that regardless of where they get their start, half of all private practice attorneys in the U.S. become solo practitioners. Still, the prospect of practicing with few or no in-house mentors can be daunting. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources in the law library and on the Web to help. Here are a few to get you started:
- Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be by Carolyn Elefant (Call No. KF300.E42 2011): This book contains insights into the decision to become a solo practitioner as well as strategies for successfully managing a one-attorney firm.
- Small Firms, Big Opportunity: How To Get Hired by Linda Calvert Hanson and Samantha C. Williams (Call No. KF297.H325 2012): Guidance on beginning and maintaining a successful career in the small firm market.
- The 2014 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide: Critical Decisions Made Simple by Sharon D. Nelson, John W. Simek and Michael C. Maschke (Call No. KF320.A9N45 2014): Published by the ABA Law Practice Division, this book has a unique focus on the technology needs of solo and small firm practitioners.
- 50 Web Resources for the Suddenly Solo Lawyers by Jim Calloway and Allison C. Shields: Extensive collection of articles, blawgs, and other online resources concerning small firm practice from attorneys, bar associations, and legal publishers across the U.S. and Canada.
- ABA Solo and Small Firm Resource Center: National clearinghouse for information on solo and small firm practice. Resources include articles on topics of interest to attorneys in small firms – from law practice technology and management to work/life balance – as well as conference and CLE announcements and SoloSez (the “ABA’s most active listserv”).
- Texas Young Lawyer’s Association – Resources for New Lawyers: Built around TYLA’s Survival Guide for Young Lawyers, this website contains information and advice for recent grads from dealing with student loans to opening a solo practice. Additionally, TYLA’s Resources for Solos includes a 40-minute video detailing the benefits and challenges of starting a solo or small firm practice.
- TexasBarCLE Solo and Small Firm Practice: List of books and Web resources for attorneys who manage solo and small firms.
Joseph Lawson is a guest blogger for Nota Bene and the law librarian at the Fort Bend County Law Library. Please note that the views expressed in this post do not represent an official position or opinion of Fort Bend County, Texas.