Attorneys who practice in a solo or small firm (15 or fewer attorneys) setting have lots of advantages. One big disadvantage for many is a lack of feedback and support mechanisms. That’s certainly one area where a larger firm provides benefit. At the larger firm, one need only walk down the hallway and poke a face in to get some immediate feedback. Whether one seeks a dispassionate perspective, some additional creative thought, sympathy about a matter gone awry, or even direct assistance on client work or a marketing initiative, help is often just down the hall.
For those operating in small or solo environments, the need for connection to ones colleagues was often met by regular lunches at the bar association, or the neighborhood restaurant. Regrettably, lives for most attorneys have become so hectic, it’s hard to squeeze in these type of events unless one can justify the time with CLE credit or some other more tangible justification.
The solo and small firm attorneys who experience the greatest feeling of loss of collegiality are those who have at one time or another experienced life in a larger firm setting. It takes little time for them to realize that they are more isolated, and in a real way handicapped, than they were in the larger setting. What to do?
Well, in most states, the state bar association has a section just for solo and small firm attorneys. That’s the case in PA. Not only is there a Section, but there is a Listserv which enables all of the members of the section, who choose to join, to communicate with each other with a single email. Talk about collegiality . . . responses are usually received within minutes for anything from vendor or technology information, to sample forms, cites, and creative strategies to pursue on behalf of clients. The Listserv also provides a means for geographically diverse attorneys to get to know one another, for referral purposes. What a relief to be able to identify attorneys who can provide expertise in a specific practice area, without worrying about them stealing your client.
As in many other states, the PA Bar Association‘s Solo & Small Firm Section has an educational conference. It is a two day event which is packed with excellent educational opportunities, networking opportunities, and many options for family fun as well. Talk about multi-tasking! Earn a full year’s CLE credit, meet a whole bunch of helpful colleagues face to face, and have a family vacation as well at the awesome Bedford Springs Resort, where there is activity desirable to any family member of any age. Probably the greatest value of these events are obtained at the social events, or at the bar, where you get to compare notes with colleagues, and find out they are facing the same challenges, and how they’re doing it. It will recharge your batteries.
The closing date to lock in the special resort rate for the conference is almost here. You’ve been working hard. You probably haven’t properly rewarded yourself with some well-deserved downtime. And no doubt you’re feeling too “alone” in your solo or small firm practice.
There’s an excellent faculty waiting to assist you with substantive practice area education, and practice management expertise. I am honored to be the opening and closing presenter. In between I will be offering “One-on-one with Ellen” private consulting meetings for anyone who signs up at the conference. First come, first served.
If you’re not a PA attorney, take time now to go the web site of your county or state bar association, to determine if they have a similar event. PA welcomes non-members of the Section or Association. Those who sign up for the Section while at the Conference typically get the first year of Section Membership free.
Additional information and registration is found here. The conference is August 1st and 2nd. Don’t think about it, just DO IT! You deserve it.