Starting in 2014, the Solo and Small Firm Sections (S/SF) of the Barristers Club and BASF initiated a Brown Bag Luncheon Series, occurring the second Tuesday of each month at noon.
Topics are wide-ranging; the group has ranged from ten to two dozen, and the discussion flows freely. Below are some of the discussions from the first half of 2015:
Building business through expanding your practice areas
- Fake it till you make it: Tell your network about your intended new practice area, drum up business, and develop expertise to back up your claims.
- Do pro bono or low-bono work in your intended new area to hone your skills.
- Co-counsel with an attorney with expertise in your new area and build relationships while developing your new practice area.
Adding contract attorneys and/or an associate to a solo practice
- Find and hang on to a good contract attorney! But when do you make them a full-time offer?
- You can hire contract attorneys through agencies, but then the agency gets a cut.
- Pros: partnerships better support administrative staff and associates, handle larger cases, smooth the ups and downs of solo practice, and add collegiality and community.
- Cons: potentially reduced autonomy; losing the pride of doing it yourself.
- Key issue: identifying a compensation structure that accommodates different interests, including work/life balance, management, and business development.
- The key ingredients to a good partnership: trust and respect, a solid written agreement, and good communication.
- Start-ups often can’t pay. Different fee structures were discussed, including flat-fees (discounted), contingent fees, and discount fees with a kicker upon funding.
- VC funding sometimes comes with big firm lawyers, cutting solos out of the loop just when the engagement might get lucrative.
- There may be opportunities to market to start-ups at the co-working facilities where many of them work – but is it worth the time and effort?
About the author:
Matt Gluck is a sole practitioner and the co-chair of the Solo and Small Firm Section.