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May 14, 2007

Competitive Consumption and the Solo Lawyer

I've been remiss in participating in the recent round of posts surrounding the Third Wave/Home Office Lawyering option which is championed by Chuck Newton, and others. I am primarily jumping in now because Chuck has apparently been the recipient of some challenges to his street corner soap-boxing on the value of the home office for the new solo.

We should treasure the wisdom of his hindsight because he is unique in having lived lawyering from every angle...building his own practice up to ivory tower status then chucking it all (no pun intended) for the simplicity and progressive solo third wave format. Chuck's philosophy is to avoid competitive consumption. 

Competitive consumption is an ailment that most American's suffer from in their daily living.  You may be more familiar with the phrase 'keeping up with the Jones'  This attitude has cost Americans in untold ways, ripping at the fabric of our morality, community, family and personal health.  It is also bankrupting hundreds of thousands of families under the weight of subprime mortgages for houses that are financially too much for their incomes, new cars, closets full of 'must have' gadgets, fashion, technologies and more created by corporations to extract our dollars and ultimately our souls.

As a solo, if you were climbing a mountain, would you want to be weighted down with so much baggage that you question whether you have the stamina to reach your goal as you huff and puff in the higher altitudes?  That solo is the one with so much financial obligation to others being taken out of each paycheck that she can't make ends meet...and the solo who ultimately fails to meet her goal, which, is ironically, in part a certain amount of financial freedom.  So, she quits.  It has nothing to do with her personal health or ambition or talent. It has to do with too much weight on her back.

Chuck and others, including myself depending upon the individual, say 'you don't need the standard second wave baggage.'  What you do want to expend your precious resources and energy on for the arduous trek up the mountain are those practice necessities that will help make your journey faster and smoother, then allow you to enjoy yourself to the fullest when you reach the summit.

This home office decision is not for everyone for different personal reasons. The reality remains, however, that it is a very viable, intelligent option for many new attorneys. 

Let's face it, what kid wants to listen to the experiences of their parents?  They want to create their own experiences good, bad or indifferent.  As a new attorney, this is no different.  New attorneys choose their mentors, those mentors whose attitudes resonate with theirs.  There are those who will agree with the merits of the home office proposition.  Those who won't.  That's the beauty of the blogosphere.  There are a lot of opinions.  You like one, you stay for a while.  You don't like one, click on to one you do like.   But if the discussion makes you think, the blogger has done his job.


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Susan Cartier Liebel of Build A Solo Practice, apart from supporting my daughter's hitchhiking in Japan, has defined our discussion of late as competitive consumption, and she is right (about the competitive consumption and not about my daughter, which... [Read More]


Chuck Newton

I could not have said it better myself. You're the best.

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