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August 27, 2008

How Solos take on the Big Boys

I just read a great blog post from Jordan Furlong of Law 21 and editor in chief of the Canadian Bar Association's National Magazine called "How David Beat Goliath."  WOW.

Jordan analogizes the Solos and Big Law to the story of David and Goliath in terms of competition for clients, utilizing our unique strengths to overcome Big Law's inherent weaknesses.

http://www.pdimages.com/B02827.JPG.....young David was no fool: he didn’t engage a gigantic opponent in hand-to-hand combat. He kept his distance, picked up a sling and stone, and took out a heavily armed warrior with missile fire. David was one of history’s earliest recorded asymmetric fighters.

There’s a lesson here for lawyers who work in smaller operations, from midsize firms all the way down to sole practices: taking on your bigger competitors on their terms is a losing strategy. Either avoid their strengths or capitalize on their weaknesses, but at all times remember that you can’t do business the way they do and you shouldn’t try.

Jordan discusses recent news articles which highlight areas where solos hold all the cards versus Big Law  (which readers of Build A Solo Practice already know :-):

  • Technology
  • Receivables
  • Exclusivity
  • Payroll
  • Women

And with one parting shot he reminds us:

What it comes down to is: don’t try transplanting a large firm’s business model to your more modest tract of land. Identify your bigger rivals, figure out their vulnerabilities, and make the appropriate changes to your own smaller firm’s profile.

But one final note of caution; beware of focusing too much on your competitors and not enough on your own strengths and vision. David was smart enough to use a sling and stone against a giant. But he was also adept enough with that weapon to take the giant down with one shot.

In my comment to Jordan I did say the following, though:

Solos have the ability to do everything you described. Successful solos already exploit Big Law’s weaknesses and therefore have no competition. They are not mini-Big Law, they are solos which is a distinct category without competition. They function differently and generally different mindset, that of the entrepreneur.

I’d like to add another dimension to your story, though. They can also peacefully co-exist each serving their respective clients, each simply capitalizing on that which the other is incapable or not desirous of doing.


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Comments

Laurie/Halo Secretarial

That was such a good post of Jordan's wasn't it? He's my favorite Canadian blawgger and when I read his post it really made me think of what you are doing with Solo Practice University.

Gavin Craig

I continue to really enjoy your posts. I always learn something. This is just a thanks for a great job.

Susan Cartier Liebel

@Gavin,

Thank you for letting me know you appreciate it. It's always nice to hear and keeps me motivated, too :-)

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