December 15, 2008

Why the Solo Choice? - Solo Practice University E-zine Celebrates 1st Anniversary

With the holidays coming and the New Year almost upon us I thought I would let you see one of the very first newsletters subscribers to the Solo Practice University E-zine receive.  You may just relate:

I'm a big believer in getting to the heart of the matter.  If you've subscribed to this newsletter chances are you fall into one of four categories. You are:
  • A Student (traditional or non-traditional) who already knows you want to seriously consider the solo option either right out of law school or shortly thereafter;
  • A New Lawyer (out of school less than three years) who either can't get the job you want or just wanted to get your feet wet first before striking out on your own; or
  • A Veteran Lawyer (practicing more than three years) who now wants to strike out on your own after years of working for another and/or feels you have no future or stability in your current employment.  You've defined going solo as the only option; or
  • A Current Solo Practitioner who wants tips on how to improve your practice.

If you fit into any of these categories, this newsletter will help you but it is primarily geared for those who want to get started.

So, let's get started!

In his very popular book, "How to Start and Build A Law Practice," Jay Foonberg pretty much says it doesn't matter why you are starting a solo practice. Then based upon his personal experiences goes on to tell you his perspective on how to do it.  His book has been a best seller for decades.

I disagree with Foonberg's premise 'it doesn't matter why you are starting a solo practice.'  It does matter why you are going into solo practice because your attitude about your choice (and everything in life is a choice) will color your entire professional career.  It will determine your financial and personal success as an entrepreneur in the legal profession.  

Your attitude is key to your success.

What is irrelevant is what others think about your choice to go solo. Unless they are your spouse or significant other, they don't get a say in your life.
 
****************
Some of us are born entrepreneurs 
 
You know them, the friend, the family member who just grabs an idea and runs with it, genetically gifted when it comes to marketing, networking and turning mud into gold. They don't take refuge in employment.  They use any employment as a calculated stepping stone to their next entrepreneurial adventure. 
 
Sometimes they succeed; sometimes they don't. But they persevere because they know no other way. Nor do they want it to be any other way.  And they find success, sometimes success being defined as the process.
 

Some of us back into entrepreneurship

 
You've always been intrigued at the idea of operating your own business and have often said, 'some day.' You are more cautious, cautiously optimistic you can do it.  But you get deeply upset, sometimes thrown off track when those you respect, including professors, career counselors, accomplished lawyers, point out all the reasons you can't accomplish your goal.  They fuel your natural insecurities. 
 
This is human nature.  People you seek out for advice will project their fears upon you when you look to step out of THEIR comfort zone.  You need to learn how to recognize this.  Then separate yourself from it.

Some of us are forced into entrepreneurship

 
You've been hit flat upside your head with any number of career surprises:
  • poor job prospects whether driven by the economy or school ranking,
  • unanticipated unemployment,
  • disenchantment working for Big Law,
  • a move cross-country to a strange city

You've experienced a professional disruption and simply don't know what to do.  You just never envisioned your current status.  Plus, you've never considered going solo before now. But you feel you either need to go solo or quit the profession.  You're paralyzed and frustrated, a little angry and scared.

You fit into at least one of these categories. Which one?

Just remember:

Every single one of these situations presents opportunity.  Entrepreneurs recognize opportunity and know how to capitalize on it.

If you would like to read more of this article, sign up for the Solo Practice University E-zine celebrating it's first year anniversary with more than 1100 subscribers. Sign up to the right ===============>>>>>>>

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

December 01, 2008

Time to Vote For the Winner of the Free Lifetime Scholarship to Solo Practice University

In celebration of my birthday and the two year anniversary of Build A Solo Practice I decided to run a contest to give away another free lifetime scholarship to Solo Practice University.  Between December 1st and December 14th you, the reader, will decide who will receive the scholarship and the lucky winner will be announced on December 22nd.  As you can tell by the faculty who have already been announced, this will be an amazing prize for the lucky winner.  So, please click here to read the entries in the comment section, make your decision and vote.

You could really be impacting one solo lawyer's future in a seriously positive way :-)


Please Vote for Your Choice to Receive the Free Lifetime Scholarship to Solo Practice University
Jessica M.
David K.
Naomi from AZ
TT
Metro Solo
Amy
Jerry G.
BGD
ADR
Kensington
Frustrated
M
jsc
AG
E.
Esther Wu
  
pollcode.com free polls

November 10, 2008

In Honor of Our 2nd Birthday I Have A Valuable Prize To Award

http://blog.ning.com/files/Happy%202nd%20Birthday!.jpgI can't believe today marks the 2nd anniversary of Build A Solo Practice. (And it's actually my birthday, too!!!)

So much has happened in these two years.  Nearly 800 posts, 1300 comments, the creation of Solo Practice University E-zine on this day one year ago with currently over 1100 active subscribers.

And now we are so very pleased to announce we have just as many subscribers receiving news on the pre-launch of Solo Practice University.

So, in honor of the remarkable two years, your continued readership and wonderful commentary which has really brought this blog to life... I have decided to award another free lifetime scholarship to Solo Practice University to any practicing lawyer or current law student... but with a twist.

Here are the rules:

1.  You must be a practicing lawyer or current law student;  (You need not currently be a solo to be eligible)
2.  Tell us why you wish to go solo and;
3.  Why you believe Solo Practice University will help you achieve your goal of entrepreneurship (best to go to the site and read our mission as well as what we are offering)
4.  Provide the answers to the above in the comment section of this post.  You may do so anonymously if you feel more comfortable)
5.  Send me a separate e-mail with your full name, e-mail addresses (law school e-mail address if you are a current law student) so you can be reached at a later date if you win. And don't forget to identify which comment is yours.
6.  And make sure your comment is received by November 30th dat midnight.

And here is the fun part. I won't be picking the winner.  After the comments are submitted, I will create and post a poll listing all the entrants by how they identify themselves in the comment section (so be distinct) and my readers will select the winner*.  And the winner with the most votes will be announced on December 22, 2008 just in time for one lucky person to maybe have an even better holiday and start to their new year.

So, if you have an interest in a free lifetime scholarship to Solo Practice University or know someone who does...spread the word and start commenting!!

(*I have the right to veto the winner if I suspect something fishy and the recipient of the second highest number of votes will be awarded the scholarship under the same rules and conditions.)

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter

November 03, 2008

Do You Have A Social Media Strategy? The Good, The Bad and The Time-Sucking

Not too long ago I  wrote a post discussing the term Technoshock. And in it was the following quote:

By way of a blog post from The Great American Lawyer quoting Dennis Kennedy's popular blog comes a very valid statement:

"by the end of 2007, we will be talking about a clear and growing digital divide between technology-forward and technology-backward lawyers and firms and a subtle restructuring of the practice of law." (original post here) 

This post is nearly two years old and it is fair to say this prediction has come true.  If you are a solo who has not embraced technology you are definitely behind and it can be argued you are in a down position in the marketplace as well as financially because of your overhead and because of the demands of your clients.

In my original post, however, I did discuss technology overload, the need one feels to grab every new gadget, then learning and integrating into ones practice. Feeling technology overwhelm..or what is called 'technoshock' is inevitable.  And for good reason.  It is just plain overwhelming and the overwhelm can be both intimidating and debilitating.

Now we are facing shock and overwhelm with the proliferation of social media sites and the push towards becoming social media savvy in order to stay competitive and meet the demands of clients.  Yes, the demands of your clients.

According to Cone Strategy and Communications Agency:

Sixty percent of Americans use social media, and of those, 59 percent interact with companies on social media Web sites. One in four interacts more than once per week.

(All statistics below are discussing the 60 percent who use social media)

“The news here is that Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media,” explains Mike Hollywood, director of new media for Cone, “it isn’t an intrusion into their lives, but rather a welcome channel for discussion.”

When asked about specific types of interactions, Americans who use social media believe:

  • Companies should use social networks to solve my problems (43%)
  • Companies should solicit feedback on their products and services (41%)
  • Companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand (37%)
  • Companies should market to consumers (25%)

Hard-to-reach consumers
Men, a much sought-after target in the online space, are twice as likely as women to interact frequently (one or more times per week) with companies via social media (33% to 17%, respectively).

“The ease and efficiency of online conversation is likely a draw for men who historically do not seek out the same level of interaction with companies as women,” says Hollywood.

Likewise, of younger, hard-to-reach users (ages 18-34), one-third believe companies should actively market to them via social networks, and the same is true of the wealthiest households (household income of $75,000+). Two-thirds of the wealthiest households and the largest households (3 or more members) feel stronger connections to brands they interact with online.

It really isn't very hard to extrapolate this data to lawyers and specifically the solo practitioner.  The questions one must ask are:

  • What is my brand? (how do you distinguish yourself)
  • Who is my target client?
  • How do I create a social media strategy which promotes my brand and reaches my target client?

And it's just not as simple as creating a Facebook and LinkedIn profile.

Fortunately, this Thursday we will introduce to you one of the most highly regarded social media experts in this country when with great pleasure we announce her faculty position at Solo Practice University. 

So, stay-tuned. And in my next lengthy post I will discuss some social media strategies to avoid what I call 'time-suck.'

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.


October 27, 2008

This Week We Begin Announcing Our Faculty At Solo Practice University

If you haven't been following Solo Practice University™ up to now, you may want to start as this week we beginning announcing our outstanding faculty.  Read this post our subscribers received two weeks ago:

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Beginning the week of October 27th we will start introducing you to the outstanding faculty at Solo Practice University.

We promised you SPU would have the teachers you wished you had in law school, those  profitable in the trenches actually practicing what they preach and sharing their experience and wisdom. Some may actually teach on more than one topic.

And unlike any other site that we know of, Solo Practice University's faculty will really teach you the ropes of what needs to be done.   Each faculty has committed to a full curriculum of teaching in their area of expertise just like law school (no thirty minute hit and run 'teases')......and all from the comfort of your computer.  Each faculty member is committed to answering your questions, encouraged to be totally creative with full authority to add or vary classes based upon the students' requests.

Imagine, you are following one of our premiere criminal defense attorneys' teachings and an important case makes the news.  You want to understand the ramifications of that case.  That faculty member, because he or she is well entrenched in their practice area, gathers together several attorneys to have an impromptu debate on the subject, then takes a break from the syllabus and discusses this important case in a spirited and thought-provoking round table.  This is absolutely encouraged at Solo Practice University™.

Or you are learning from our personal injury lawyers.  You want to know what goes through the mind of an insurance adjuster when presented with a claim.  To make the anatomy of a personal injury suit come to life our personal injury lawyer arranges a panel discussion with an insurance defense lawyer and an insurance adjuster to get all the perspectives.

This is the type of education you will find at Solo Practice University™; - practical, timely, fluid, creative, interactive and fun.

If you can't participate on the day the class or seminar is being offered, no worries.  Once a class has been taught you will find the class recording in our library to reference at your leisure.  You can always catch up.

As all faculty have the flexibility to teach in whatever format they choose, lessons will be video, audio, a combination of the two, workbooks, PDFs and more.

One of the best parts, faculty will also have office hours (to be determined by them). Whether through forums or recorded Q & A, you will always be able to follow up with the faculty on what you've learned, either asking questions live or reviewing after the fact when it's convenient for you.

So, starting the week of October 27th we will introduce you to the current faculty, two or three per week.  Since all our faculty are experts and incredibly talented at what they will be teaching, we decided to introduce them by lottery.  That's right, names in a hat and pulled out at random.  (We didn't like alphabetical either).

Please encourage our faculty with comments to show your enthusiasm. Visit their sites, get to know them.  Let them know you can't wait to learn.  They are bringing a lot to the party because they've decided you're worth it and Solo Practice University™ was just the right educational environment.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students why not subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

September 10, 2008

SPU Awards 100 Lifetime Scholarships in Three Weeks!

(This was recently published to those who follow Solo Practice University. )

This is SO exciting and immensely gratifying.            

David and I wanted to start building the Solo Practice University™ community by awarding 100 free lifetime scholarships to current law students who have expressed a sincere interest in going solo.  It was fairly easy to find them because Solo Practice University E-zine™  has more than 1000 active subscribers and over 200 of those subscribers identified themselves as students.  By broadcasting our message through the e-zine to the 'students' it was easy to hand out a significant number of the scholarships.

Then we brought our offer to the 800 subscribers of the Solo Practice University™  blog because, again, you as a subscriber have expressed sincere enthusiasm for the mission of Solo Practice University™ .  Finally, the offer was announced to my loyal Build A Solo Practice, LLC™ subscribers.

Within three weeks 100 Lifetime Scholarships to SPU have been awarded!

By providing these scholarships we are reinforcing that our mission at Solo Practice University™  is truly about helping those lawyers who want to succeed in creating and growing their own solo legal practice. By granting these scholarships we are helping the recipients overcome many of the traditional hurdles encountered by providing outstanding education, community and support.

The scholarships were handed out to students across all law school tiers, states and countries.  The majority went to students currently enrolled in U.S.  law schools.  However, we have scholarship students in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Africa, China, India and Canada. Their stories are the same.  There is no support in law school for those who wish to go solo and what we are providing is 'sorely needed.'  And as many said, 'Solo Practice University™  is filling a void'.

For those who have applied for scholarship, we will be notifying you shortly.  Please make sure you put susan (at) solopracticeuniversity.com in your approved e-mail so you are sure to receive the good news as well as further instructions.  And please make sure you sign up to receive the e-mail updates from Solo Practice University™  or subscribe to the RSS if you haven't done so already.

We would also like to acknowledge those who just graduated and took the bar exam.  We received your  requests asking if you were eligible given you are caught in limbo between taking the bar and waiting on results.  It was a tough decision but we had to draw the line at 'currently in law school.'  Know that we are keeping you in mind when figuring out our program offerings.  So stay tuned.

Again, thank you to all who applied. Your enthusiasm for what we are trying to create just makes us work that much harder to bring you an amazing experience :-)

September 01, 2008

Current Law Students Eligible For Lifetime Scholarships at Solo Practice University

(Note: For those who have already contacted me regarding scholarships, no need to do so again.  You will hear from us shortly.)

On August 20th we broadcast a special message to subscribers of our Solo Practice University™ E-zine who identified themselves as 'students':

On August 25th we broadcast the following message to our subscribers at Solo Practice University

Perks of Being A Law Student (And Subscribed To This E-zine) (and subscribed to Solo Practice University™)

There are some perks to being a law student!

When you subscribed to this e-zine,  you identified your status as that of a 'student'.  And I am all about helping law students.

If you have been following our progress at  Solo Practice University™ then you know we are building a revolutionary new web-based educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students.

Here comes the perk.  We need you to help us private beta test the site.  And as a thank you for helping us to private beta test the site, you will be able to enroll at Solo Practice University™ tuition-free....for as long as you remain a practicing lawyer.

We haven't announced to the general public yet that Solo Practice University™ will be an extremely high value, low tuition membership site, but we're pretty confident most readers have already figured this out :-)

But that won't be an issue for those who help us private beta test because they will be on 'full' scholarship for being the earliest adopters.

So, if you have a genuine interest in going solo, please send me a confidential e-mail at susan (at) solopracticeuniversity.com confirming:

  • your law school status;
  • your law school;
  • whether you remain sincerely interested in going solo;
  • why going solo is your chosen route for practicing your profession;
  • how you think Solo Practice University™ can help you achieve your goals;
  • your personal e-mail address AND your school e-mail address (both required).

We will make available 100 scholarships to current law students.
This means you will be starting your 1L, 2L or 3L  (or 4L if you are part time) year at law school in September 2008.

If you know of others who may want to participate, please let them know this opportunity exists and to send me an e-mail at susan (at) solopracticeuniversity.com with the requested information.

We have 37 24 10 scholarships left (as of 12:00 p.m. 8/31)

If you a current law student, or someone you know is,  and are sincerely interested in going solo and would benefit from a lifetime scholarship to Solo Practice University™, please send me an e-mail answering all the  questions asked in the e-zine and listed above.... as soon as possible. We are limiting our lifetime scholarships to 100. The next round of private beta testing will begin shortly.

Yours truly,
Susan

August 14, 2008

Solo Practice University Has New Home Page - Check it Out

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We've just launched the new home page for Solo Practice University.  Check it out.

If you are already receiving our updates via RSS or email, you don't have to change a thing.  You will continue to get them without interruption.

If you're not already receiving our updates automatically, and you'd like to receive updates as we head towards the launch, grab the RSS feed or signup for e-mail updates.

For our loyal followers, you know we are in private beta, tweaking functionality and design, uploading faculty profiles, filling our library, testing forums and a whole lot more.  It will be a very busy August.

Access is currently limited, though, and you'll be unable to click though to the forums, faculty lounge, co-op or job boards as they are password protected and just available to our testers.  But soon. I promise.

And we would like to personally thank Ed Poll of LawBizBlog for his kind words:

This is the right idea at exactly the right time. SPU is going to change everything.

-Ed Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC  LawBizBlog

Thanks, Ed.  From your lips....

Please feel free to leave feedback at the Solo Practice University blog on the design or anything else as commenting has now been enabled.  We'd love to hear what you have to say.

Or contact me directly susan (at )solopracticeuniversity.com

Or contact dave (at) solopracticeuniversity.com

And as always,  we can discuss here, too :-)

July 10, 2008

If You Are A Current Law Student Who Wishes To Go Solo.....

...there has never been a better time to sign up for the Solo Practice University E-zine*....widget to the right---------->>>>>  and identify your status as 'Student.'

At 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 20th I will be sending a special broadcast just to law students for a very special opportunity relating to Solo Practice University.

So, again, if you have a genuine interest in going solo and are going into your second or third year of law school this fall make sure to sign up for the Solo Practice University E-zine to learn why it's never been a better time to be a current law student interested in going solo.  You'll find it out in our special broadcast just for you, the student. Until then, enjoy the e-zine and start learning how to think like a solo.

Feel free to pass this along to current students you know who may also qualify.

*Please do not use your law school e-mail address as often the firewalls at the school will prevent your verification e-mail from reaching you which you are required to confirm in order to be fully subscribed.

June 30, 2008

Solo Practice University - "The Education"

(UPDATE:  7/14/08) This post has been updated to reflect the new faculty additions.  Bookmark and check often as we continue to add outstanding faculty.

I wanted to share the most recent post from Building Solo Practice University because if you haven't signed up to follow the construction yet, now may be the time . You can subscribe to the RSS on our Tumblr blog. If you’d prefer to subscribe to construction updates by email, drop your email in the widget to your right -------->

And this post also reflects an update to the original post, too, which you can see in highlights:


                                The 'Practice of Law' School  - The Education                           
                                                             

Our mission is simple:

Education combined with community presented to you in a revolutionary new web-based  application.

David, my kiteboard-riding, backpack-toting, flip-flop-wearing tech-hero, will continue to update you on the technology we will be using to make your experience at Solo Practice University™ top shelf.

My pleasure is to keep you posted on the incredible education you will be receiving.

This summer we will be introducing you to the faculty.  I promise you will be blown away.  I still have a hard time imagining all of these professional superstars in one place teaching you on an on-going basis.  Finally, a virtual community where you can learn ’how to’ build your solo practice while becoming the best lawyer you can be in your chosen practice area(s).

So, let’s start with the topics (in no particular order) for which we have one or more faculty already in place:

Practice Areas:

  • Entertainment Law
  • Bankruptcy
  • Internet Law
  • Criminal Law (Defense/Prosecution)
  • DUI
  • Immigration
  • Family
  • Family and Divorce Mediation
  • Business
  • Forensic Psychology (My client’s crazy.  Who Do I Call?)
  • Intellectual Property
  • Employment
  • Appellate Procedure
  • Personal Injury
  • Product Liability
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Trusts & Estates
  • Contract Lawyering
  • Surrogacy/Adoption
  • Real Property

Practice Skills:

  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Jury Selection
  • Litigation Strategies
  • E-Discovery
  • Negotiation
  • The Art of the Deposition
  • Evidence in the Court Room

The Business:

  • Law Practice Management
  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Niche Practice Creation
  • Collaboration
  • Blogging
  • Sales/Networking
  • Marketing
  • How To Use Social Media
  • Branding/Copywriting
  • Internet Marketing

Technology:

  • Technology in the Courtroom
  • Virtual Law Office
  • Web 2.0/Productivity and Organization
  • Paperless Office Technology
  • Macs in the Law Office
  • Trends in Technology

For Law Students & Work/Life Balance:

  • “Staying at Home, Staying In the Law”
  • Non-Traditional Law Students Entering Solo Practice
  • What Happens When You are in the Bottom Third of Your Law Class?
  • Mindfullness & Stress Reduction For Lawyers

We also have several incredible professionals lined up as guest lecturers from all walks of business life which really drives home the point…opening a solo practice is a business.  We want you to have a true business education.

Solo Practice University™ is not a brick and mortar structure so we can ‘house’ as many faculty as we choose.  Therefore, this list of faculty and topics is by no means exhaustive.  We will not be limiting the number of faculty in any given area because this will be a place of ideas, opinions, debate, different skills sets, perspectives; a community of peers with a single passion - building their solo practice or helping you to build yours.

Therefore, I am extending an invitation to the more than 750 current subscribers to this construction blog: If you would like to teach at Solo Practice University™ or know of someone who would be an asset to this community of solo/small firm lawyers and professionals, feel free to contact me to discuss the possibilities.

Yours truly,

Susan

susan@solopracticeuniversity.com