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Pros and Cons of Being a General Practitioner

People used to ask me, "What kind of a lawyer are you?"

"A good one," I liked to reply. It usually brought a smile, and always brought a follow-up question: "No, like, what kind of law do you practice?"

In the law practice world, clients seem to expect that lawyers have a specialty. It almost goes without saying, but here goes anyway: there are pros and cons to being a general practitioner.

Growth Strategy Tips for Solo Practitioners

Unlike weeds that seem to grow in any condition, solo law practices need a little more care.

After all, lawyers are not a naturally occurring part of the eco system. Sunshine, water, and a little soil probably have nothing to do with their success. 

In urban life, it takes at least a plan, implementation, and perhaps a little luck to grow a solo practice. Here are some tips for your growth strategy:

Pros and Cons of Being a Family Lawyer

What are the pros and cons of being a family lawyer?

First, you will really get to know your relatives. That's because they will talk to you about delicate family issues more than your immediate family -- like who's having an affair, who's the crazy uncle, where the dead bodies are, etc.

So yeah, that's both a pro and a con. After that, they kind of line up like this:

Cookie-Cutter Law Practice: Recipe for Success or Excess?

If a cookie-cutter law practice sounds tempting to you, maybe you should consider another line of work -- like baking.

"Cookie cutter" lawyering is not supposed to sound alluring; it's generally used in a pejorative way. It suggests a high-fructose, low benefit, no-brainer business model.

Ah, but easy money smells so good. After all, why reinvent the wheel when it turns a profit so well?

Here are some reasons that cookie cutter law practice is really a recipe for excess:

Solo Attorney Takes New York's 'Bona Fide Office Rule' to the Supreme Court

Ekaterina Schoenefeld is a one-woman law firm working out of a duplex in New Jersey. She is also a force to be reckoned with, so get used to pronouncing her name.

Admitted to practice in New Jersey, New York and California, Schoenefeld sued in 2008 for a declaration that New York's law requiring out-of-state attorneys to maintain in-state law offices to practice there is unconstitutional. She has pushed the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court, and three bar associations and countless lawyers are following her in support.

Schoenefeld argues that New York's Judiciary Law Section 470 violates the U.S. Constitution's Privileges and Immunities Clause. It does not require in-state practitioners to have physical offices, only out-of-state lawyers. That's not fair, she says.

If you are starting to think she is right, join the club. Here are a few words from her sponsors:

Make Your Law Firm a Great Place to Work

If you can't wait to get to the office, you probably work at a great law firm.

If you feel like your co-workers are trusted friends, you probably work at a great law firm.

If you don't care about how much money you're making, you probably work at a great law firm.

Whether you are an employee or an employer, there are some sure signs that you work at a great law firm. Making the firm great depends more on the people than the practice area or any other common denominator in the workplace. It's not about firm development; it's about people development.

Here are some tips:

You have to have an independent streak to start your own solo practice. But that doesn't mean you have to be totally alone in the venture. More and more lawyers are taking advantage of legal incubators, programs that provide training, guidance, and even office space for lawyers bootstrapping their own practice. In exchange, participants must often commit to public interest work, or "low bono" practice.

So, if you're considering starting your own firm, should you look in to an incubation program first?

Tips to Starting a Family Law Practice

So you actually want to start a family law practice? And you did not come to this decision because a friend or family member asked you to help with a divorce? You actually want to spend your life in the most emotional battle zone in law?

Just checking, because, if you didn't know it, there are good reasons why many lawyers run from practicing family law. It can be emotionally draining, financially challenging, and even dangerous to your health. Once you can accept that, it's not that hard to start a family law practice.

Here are some tips, but first a story to double-check your commitment:

If you're a solo practitioner, you might envy your colleagues who work with, well, colleagues. After all, working in a firm can mean more resources, more support staff, a larger reputation.

But not everyone finds firm life fulfilling. Take Fabian Lima. Lima left his solo practice for a small law firm in 2013, after seven years on his own. He missed his life as a solo practitioner though, so in 2015 he went back, creating his own one-man firm. So far, it's been a success.

Workplace Tips for Setting Up Small Law Firms

Tips are like opinions: everybody has one.

That's not a great spin of the original phrase, but at least it's printable. What we're really talking about here is spinning some new ideas on setting up a small law firm. Because, seriously, aren't we a little tired of the same old song?

Here are some twists on the typical tips: