I’ve had my own small firm for 15 years, my entire law career.
While it’s easy to see the advantages of being employed by a large firm the benefits of owning a solo or small firm are tougher to identify.
Here are five distinct advantages of having a small firm:
1. I’m in control of my schedule. I determine how much and how long I work on a particular case. I plan the caseload. While it’d be wonderful to take an occasional afternoon off, I rarely do because of my workload. However, knowing I am in charge of my hours makes a huge difference with my attitude towards work.
2. I can be selective about my clients. Let’s face it, some clients can be difficult. I decide whether potentially difficult clients are a good fit for my firm or if they should be sent onward to grace the doorways of other attorneys.
3. I can respond to clients’ needs without going to a committee meeting. No matter how much you plan, the unexpected happens. My small firm can respond quickly to surprises, like ex parte appearances.
4. I handle all the pieces. Unlike some firms where the associates only work on parts of the case, I manage all the pieces of litigation. When clients call, I can communicate with them about every aspect of their case without consulting anyone else in the firm.
5. Clients like to know I am the one working on their matter. Litigation is difficult emotionally for clients, no matter how familiar they are with the process. Not only do I talk to them about the legal aspects of their cases, but I also help prepare them emotionally for any difficulties. That way, it’s easier to build trust, and with trust I can better help them with their legal issues.
Self-employed people sometimes joke by saying, “I have a tough boss.” That’s true for me, too. I work hard at my small firm, but it makes me a better attorney.
Mary Catherine Wiederhold represents residential tenants at the Law Offices of Mary Catherine Wiederhold. She is a member of BASF’s Solo and Small Firm Section’s Communication Subcommittee. She writes regularly about tenant issues and about issues facing solo and small firms.