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50 Web Resources for the Suddenly Solo Lawyer

July 2009
Two experts share 50 essential resources and links to help solos start up or refine their practice.

So you’re suddenly solo. Do you look for a new job immediately, consider starting a new solo or small firm law practice, take on some legal work from acquaintances in the meantime or make an entire new master plan for your life and career? Only you can answer these questions for yourself. But we think spending a day or more reading and reviewing these free online resources will give you a lot of inspiration and ideas. (If you count, you may even find more than 50 links in this article – we’re lawyers, not accountants!)

Let’s start with the economic reality

American Bar Association’s Economic Recovery Resources page
Check out the links on practice management and stress management.

Great Articles to Read

Weather the Storm, by Gerry Riskin and Robert Millard
The National, Canadian Bar Association, (April/May 2008 issue)

What Should You Do Now? A Roundtable Discussion on Law Practice in a Time of Great Economic Turmoil Moderated and Edited By Dennis Kennedy
Law Practice Today (November 2008)

Going Solo on a Budget by Dennis Kennedy, ABA Journal (April 2009)

Teaming Up, Starting Anew by Dennis Kennedy, ABA Journal (May 2009)

Law Office Start-up: Law Office on a Shoestring, by Sheila Blackford
Oregon State Bar Bulletin - October 2008 - Managing Your Practice

Weather the Storm: Law Firm Risk Management in Hard Times, by Mark J.Fucile
Oregon State Bar Bulletin - May 2009 - Managing Your Practice

Managing Anxiety in Uncertain Times
Oregon Attorney Assistance Program In Sight Newsletter - March 2009

Choices: Law Firm Billing and Accounting Software, by Dee Crocker
Oregon State Bar Bulletin - December 2008 - Managing Your Practice

Business Competency for Lawyers, A LawBiz Management Special Report
By Edward Poll
(60 page free downloadable e-book)

How to Take Control of Your Practice By Creating Vision and Mission Statement
By Allison Shields www.abanet.org/genpractice/newsletter/lawtrends/0602/business/visionstatements.html

Practicing Law in Tough Economic Times
By Jim Calloway
(Oklahoma Bar Journal, January, 2009)

More Thoughts on Practicing Law in Tough Economic Times
By Jim Calloway
(Oklahoma Bar Journal, February, 2009)

In a Tough Economy, the Importance of Effective Client Screening
By Deborah E. Gillis
(Law Practice Today, November, 2008)

LawPRO Magazine Surviving the Slide: Dealing with the Tough Economy (Winter 2008/2009)

Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (Massachusetts) Spring 2009 newsletter
Theme issue on Responding to Trying Times


Robert Ambrogi’s Law Sites keeps lawyers up to date on websites for lawyers: http://www.legaline.com/lawsites.html

David Bilinsky’s Thoughtful Legal Management discusses law firm finance, profitability and the use of technology in law practice. http://thoughtfullaw.com/

JD Bliss: http://www.jdblissblog.com/ helps lawyers balance work and life

Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips blog talks about practice management, the Internet and technology: http://jimcalloway.typepad.com

Look to Counsel to Counsel for all things related to legal careers: http://www.counseltocounsel.com/

Ellen Freedman’s Law Practice Management blog helps lawyers manage the business side of their practice: http://pa-lawpracticemanagement.com/

Matt Homann’s the [non]billable hour: http://thenonbillablehour.typepad.com/ discusses innovation and productivity

Dan Hull’s http://www.whataboutclients.com/ blog (Don’t miss his 12 rules of client service http://www.whataboutclients.com/archives/2006/04/the_12_rules_of_1.html)

Tom Kane’s Legal Marketing Blog is dedicated to lawyer marketing in any size firm: http://legalmarketingblog.com

Dennis Kennedy’s Dennis Kennedy.com focuses mostly on legal technology: http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/

Erik Mazzone’s Law Practice Matters Blog shows lawyers how to practice smart: http://www.lawpracticematters.com/

Tom Mighell’s Inter-Alia blog is among other things, an internet legal research weblog: http://inter-alia.net/

Home office lawyering is the focus at Chuck Newton Rides the Third Wave: http://stayviolation.typepad.com/chucknewton/ Other blogs focusing on the home office phenomenon include: Home Office Lawyer: http://gdgrifflaw.typepad.com/home_office_lawyer/ and Home Office Warrior: http://homeofficewarrior.com/

Ed Poll’s Law Biz Blog is a practical guide for lawyers: http://lawbizblog.com/

Gerry Riskin’s Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices covers legal practices from all angles: http://www.gerryriskin.com/

Allison Shields’ Legal Ease Blog helps lawyers create more productive, profitable and enjoyable law practices: http://legalease.blogs.com/legal_ease_blog (Additional articles from Allison can be found at: http://www.lawyermeltdown.com/articles.html )

Guides, Checklists and Other Sets of Resources

Carolyn Elefant’s MyShingle blog (www.myshingle.com) has long been recognized as a premiere resource for solo and small firm lawyers. See her resources and information for solos (includes forms and checklists for solos or those starting a law practice) http://sites.google.com/site/myshinglebarreview/Home/soloformania and her online guide to starting a law practice: http://www.myshingle.com/2008/01/resources/online-guide/

Maryland State Bar Association
Economic Resource Guide

Starting Your Own Practice (Florida Bar)

Oklahoma Bar Association
Starting a Law Practice Web Directory

Checklist for Setting Up a New Law Office (Alabama Bar)

Checklist for Starting a Law Practice (Missouri Bar)

practicePro’s “Managing” series of booklets
Eight great downloadable booklets on managing your law practice. Your attention is directed to #6 “Managing the finances of your practice” where their sample law firm budget (in PDF or Excel) is their most popular download.

Unlock Your Potential: Hanging Out Your Shingle: A 79 page e-book in PDF format from the ABA Young Lawyer’s Division on setting up a law practice.

Attorneys post forms, motions and other documents here, and you can post your profile and get known as well.

IRS Starting a Business Resources

Small Business Administration
(see Small Business Planner http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html, Tools and Local Resources)

Legal Discussion Groups

Solosez – An ABA listserv for solo and small firm lawyers www.solosez.net

Solomarketing – formed as a splinter group from Solosez, Solomarketing discusses all aspects of marketing for your law practice. For information, go to http://groups.yahoo.com and search for Sololawyermarketing.

Lawtech – Informal e-mail discussion list focused on legal technology. Get tech help and find out about the latest technology trends. View the archives and subscribe at : http://mail.abanet.org/archives/lawtech.html
(There are also many legal discussion groups on LinkedIn and other social networking sites)

 Resources from the American Bar Association

ABA Law Practice Management Section
Website: http://www.abanet.org/lpm/home.shtml provides news, tips, great CLE programs and more.

Law Practice Magazine. Start with the current issue here:

Law Practice Today
(If you got to this feature by a link from a friend or search, don’t forget to subscribe to this free monthly e-zine while you are here.)

ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

GPSolo magazine
Start with the Small theme issue (April/May 2009)
Then look through all of the other issues, online and free to non-members, here:

ABA Legal Technology Resource Center
http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/ a collection of technology resources and information
Current articles: http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/publications/
(Articles are free but access to certain archives require ABA membership)
ABA LTRC Solo and Small Firm Technology Center: http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/gpsstechcenter.html
Site-tation: Law Technology Resource Center's blog http://new.abanet.org/sitetation/Pages/home.aspx
ABA Center for Professional Responsibility – resources for solo and small firm lawyers: http://www.abanet.org/cpr/solo.html

Whether you’re suddenly solo by choice or by design, there are a wealth of sites and resources available to help you plan your new practice and get it off the ground. Although this list is by no means exhaustive, we hope that it will help you get started.

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About the Authors

Jim Calloway is the Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program. He publishes the blog Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips and was the co-author of the book Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour (2nd ed.) (2002 ABA.) He was chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2005. He is a member of the Council of the ABA's Law Practice Management Section and chair of its Practice Management Advisors Committee. He is co-chair of the 2007 GP/SOLO National Solo and Small Firm Conference. He has been named a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. He writes Law Practice Tips column for the Oklahoma Bar Journal. The archives of that column are available online here.

Allison C. Shields, Esq., President of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc. is a former practicing attorney and law firm manager who helps lawyers create more productive, profitable and enjoyable law practices. Visit her blog at www.LegalEaseConsulting.com or her website at www.LawyerMeltdown.com.

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