According to Harvard Law School, 35% of US lawyers are sole practitioners. Another study using data from the American Bar Association and American Bar Foundation estimates that 68% of all attorneys in private practice in the US are sole practitioners or in firms with ten or fewer attorneys. A solo practice or micro-boutique provides attorneys with autonomy, flexibility, and independence.
In his New York Times Bestseller, Drive, Daniel H. Pink notes that autonomy is a key element of human motivation. Being able to work remotely or at home without a dress code, having the flexibility to run errands during the day, and working with clients on one’s own terms can all be very appealing. Indeed, the number of solo attorneys and micro-boutiques is increasing as attorneys leave larger law firms or decide right after law school to start their own practice.
But while reaping benefits from running a solo or small practice, attorneys confront a different set of marketing, client acquisition, and overhead cost challenges. Three major issues involve: 1) how to market to and gain the trust of clients by conveying the prestige, stability and professionalism so valued in the legal community; 2) how to acquire new clients without the large marketing budgets of bigger law firms while juggling the constant, time-consuming needs of existing clients; and 3) how to keep overhead costs down, especially during dry periods. A solo or small law practice can overcome these challenges with the right set of solutions from a virtual office service provider.
In recent years, virtual law firms have become more ubiquitous, as seen by the increasing number of attorneys working from home. Clients who are looking for legal services have used virtual law firms more readily, but their credibility is often questioned. Partnering with a virtual office service provider can help small or solo law practices address credibility concerns in several ways. We will explore the common strategies used to enhance a firm’s professional image in the next post.