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March 25, 2007

Legal Research & Writing Solo Practice - Guest Blogger - Nicole Black

Attorney Nicole Black of Sui Generis is an example of a practicing lawyer who opted to leave the more traditional form of practicing law, legal services clients, court schedule and the like, to start a family.  She is like thousands of female (and some male) attorneys looking to create that elusive work/life balance we talk of so much.  When she decided to reenter the legal community she opened her own legal practice.  But now her clients are other lawyers as she started to market her services as a legal and research writer to other solo and small firms.  And she has done an incredible job.  (In addition, she has recently been appointed 'of counsel' to a well regarded law firm in Rochester.) Be inspired as you get a peek into a different type of solo legal practice.

Starting a Solo Legal and Research Writing Practice:

Guest Blogger - Nicole Black of Sui Generis - a New York law blog

I would like to start off by saying that I’m quite honored to be a guest blogger on the useful and very informative Build A Solo Practice, LLC blog. I’ve been asked to discuss the practical aspects of running a solo office from the perspective of an attorney who provides legal research and writing services to other attorneys.

Starting and marketing a solo practicing that targets other lawyers as potential clients involves different considerations than your traditional solo legal practice. And, in my case, after taking a three year hiatus from the law, I faced additional hurdles when I hung out my shingle for the first time in December of 2005. My first task was to convince my clientele that my legal writing and analytical skills were still sharp after my time off from the law. And then, once I’d convinced my colleagues that my competence had not diminished, I had to convince them that they needed my services in order to make their day to day practice easier.

My blog, Sui Generis–a New York law blog, has been instrumental in helping me to accomplish the first of those goals. My daily posts are targeted toward lawyers, as opposed to legal consumers, and showcase my legal writing and analysis while simultaneously proving that I’m more attuned to the many changes in New York law than your average New York legal practitioner. My blog has also provided me with invaluable networking opportunities with lawyers across the state of New York and the country.

Local and state bar associations are also great networking opportunities. Every event or meeting that I attend keeps me in the “legal loop” and keeps me on the radar screen of my potential clients. I also occasionally volunteer to write articles for the local daily newspaper and seek out opportunities to speak on CLE panels. Both venues serve the dual purpose of showcasing my legal abilities while keeping me at the forefront of the minds of potential clients.

However, people aren’t going to hire me unless they are not only aware that I offer research and writing services but also realize the value of my services. My professional web site, http://www.nicoleblackesq.com and my interactions with my colleagues both online and in person, have assisted me in convincing my colleagues that they need my legal research and writing services. So far, both have proven to be quite helpful in this regard.

In sum, although I faced a number of challenges when starting my solo practice after a three year hiatus from the legal field, I’ve found the creative use of online resources and other venues to be invaluable in establishing my legal research and writing practice. In just a little over a year, I have a thriving and fulfilling solo practice that has allowed me to reconnect locally with colleagues in my field. And, my blog has allowed me to make new and invaluable connections with lawyers and potential clients, across the country.
Nicole is also very innovative technologically, one of the first solos I know of to utilize video on her blog creating the very popular New York Minute feature available every Friday.  From a blogging perspective she is very cutting edge and others are starting to take her lead.  I'm not sure she expected to be inspirational but she is, nonetheless.


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