Informal Lunchtime Meetings Prove Beneficial For Solo/Small Firm Attorneys

Matthew Gluck, Law Office of Matthew Gluck

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.

Partnering up

  • 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

  • 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.

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