Carolyn Elefant offers a preview at the chapter she's contributing to an upcoming edition of the ABA's book, "Flying Solo." In "How Not to Be Lonely," Elefant writes,
Ironically, one of the greatest benefits of starting a law firm - being able to work alone - may actually be one of the greatest hazards of solo practices, as this Q&A from the Massachusetts Bar Association website points out (thanks to my fellow blogger David Giacalone for sending this article my way).
I appreciate Carolyn's point. There is a sense of isolation away from the superficial hustle and bustle of a large law firm. I don't know why I should feel any less involved now as an independent as I did before, but in honesty I do feel less 'in the loop.' It doesn't really make sense. I have no problem being alone. I can be social, and have all the right skills. But I don't need other people around.
I was so busy billing hours at my old 10 lawyer 40 person law firm, I rarely socialized during business hours or thereafter. I felt a subtle guilt in talking to friends and family on the phone while at work [when I could be billing clients], and neither visited me except in rare circumstances. Yet, there was more of a sense of 'invovlement.'
Today, I sit in MY office doing things MY way under MY rules [or lack thereof]. Friends and family stop by regularly. Clients visit more often. I love this lifestyle as well as my practice. But if I don't make it a point to schedule lunch dates and activities with other lawyers, I start to get a little unsettled and disconnected.
A small firm or non-solo independent practitioner needs certain qualities to succeed:
- be self-motivated;
- be steady and efficient worker;
- be motivated to get out of the office and mix among peers.