One of the things that separate a solo from large, mid, or even small firms is the ability to control every aspect of the client experience – from the first contact to the final bill payment. This is the key to creating relationships that thrive, producing business that keeps flowing, and winning client loyalty that makes them want to – feel an obligation to – tell everyone they know what a great lawyer and friend you are to them.
This is part #2 of a debate I am involved in – with myself – about whether a lawyer should work a standard job and practice solo at the same time. If you have not read this column’s entry from June 2011, please visit there now BEFORE you read this column. Click HERE. This is a rebuttal so if you do not read the first column, this one may not make sense. Then, come back and see the end of the debate. Remember, as you read, that I am the speaker in both sides of this debate – when you read harsh comments, remember that there is nothing personal about this debate. It is just a debate that addresses an important question. I have already forgiven myself.
This is part #1 of a debate I will have with myself about whether a lawyer should work a standard job and practice solo at the same time…you probably want to know why this debate is happening…here is the story: I recently accepted a job with AT&T as a Senior Contract Manager responsible, in part, for negotiating contracts for mobile technology software. It is a remarkable opportunity and, though I did not aggressively seek out the job, one came right to me…one I could not refuse. As a result, on Monday June 27th 2011 – for the first time since January of 1990 (my first job out of undergrad) – I will go to work for a large corporation in a tall building. It is the exact opposite of the kind of work I have done for the last 20 plus years and a surprising change to the way I will practice law. Since my background is largely in debate – I debated as a high school student and university student, coached debate as a graduate student, and have published debate research of various types since 1993 – it makes sense to have a debate on the question of whether a lawyer can and should continue to practice law while working a standard job. Just like Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, I will play both parts of this debate – this month I will debate the Affirmative (DO continue to practice while working the standard job…OR you do not have to choose between the two) and next month I will debate the Negative (DO NOT continue to practice while working the standard job…OR you have to choose between the two). There may not be a winner but I hope these ideas help you consider how you will practice law as a solo and what constraints you will impose on yourself and your practice.