Management Assistance Program

Planning Your Future for Solo and Small Firm Lawyers (July 9, 2020)

Planning in pandemic times can seem like the ultimate oxymoron. So much is uncertain.

Many solo and small firm lawyers are specially threatened by current events because their client base consists primarily of middle-class individuals and/or small businesses. The fates of many small businesses still hang in the balance and many who considered themselves middle-class found themselves filing for unemployment benefits, some for the first time ever. Courthouse closures or restrictions impacted many of these lawyers.

There are many changes resulting from 2020. More clients will be interested in more “touchless” legal services and videoconferencing going forward. But solo and small firm lawyers generally faced many challenges and some faced an uncertain future before 2020.

To chart your future course, I encourage you not to just focus on the current crisis for planning, but also consider the many challenges lawyers serving primarily individual clients face. Your tip today is to read my pre-pandemic blog post The Legal Profession in Transition- Solo Practitioners and Their Future. The post also links to a pair of papers written for the New York State Bar Association by Stephen P. Gallagher and Leonard E. Sienko, a pair of deep thinkers about the profession’s future. Their great analysis may make some lawyers uncomfortable. But today this can serve to remind us that change impacting solo and small firm lawyers is happening at a rapid pace and it was happening before 2020.