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Small Firm Lawyer Reality Check: Is There Really a Key to Success?

It turns out there is no key to success.

It's just a metaphor to sell the idea that success can be achieved with one, quick turn. But it's a lie.

So how do you achieve success as a solo lawyer or small firm practitioner? According to extensive research, you need something more like a keychain.

Keychain Success

Paul Caron, writing for the TaxProf Blog, recruited a team of researchers to find out what made people more successful. He wanted a statistical analysis of "which specific behaviors led to high performance."

They surveyed 5,000 professionals over a five-year period, and got some surprising results. Caron said it's not only talent or hard work.

"Talent and hard work are important, but most top performers in business have one thing in common: they accept fewer tasks and then obsess over getting them right," he said.

Caron said that doesn't mean they are better at organizing or delegating. "Instead," he said, "top performers mastered selectivity."

Selective Process

It's not a key but a process of winnowing out the chaff, sifting through the rubble, or whatever metaphor that suits you. Just choose among many tasks, and do it well.

Rebekah Epstein, writing for Entrepreneur, said it's about simplifying. She said businesses that try to do too much are rarely successful because they stretch themselves too thin or loose focus.

One key (and only one) is to be really good at one thing. She said businesses that excel at one service -- like specializing in a practice area -- can become irreplaceable.

"When you are only mediocre at a variety of tasks, it is easy to be replaced," she said. "However, if you are the best at one service, then people will keep coming back for your expertise."

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