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February 27, 2009

Going Solo; Confessions & Inspirations - Charles Cochran, Jr.

How I Went Solo and Rediscovered My Love of Practicing Law

Guest Blogger - Charles J. Cochran, Jr.

It was January 15, 2008 and I was driving downtown to attend a pupilage meeting of the Scanlon Inn of Court, a social group of attorneys and judges to which I belong. My days were full of thinking about the direction my practice had taken when my two major retainer clients had ended our agreements. One of them, a major source of my income, had been sold to a major chain. The other had been transferred to the children and I belatedly discovered that I did not have a good enough relationship with them. However things were looking up as I had taken a specialist exam with the Ohio State Bar Association, for labor and employment law, and I intended to market that certification to the best of my ability. I thought things were looking up.

It was rainy and overcast and luckily I was only driving about 55 miles an hour when a car spun over into my lane and I struck them. At the emergency room the doctors indicated that I had only ruptured two disks in my neck and that I was very lucky to have only suffered those injuries.

My life changed almost immediately as I found that I could not safely drive the 20 miles which I needed to go to the office every day. When I was almost involved in another accident within two weeks of the first, due to my physical problems with driving, I decided that driving to work was no longer a choice for me. Over the months that passed my physical condition did not improve and my partner was complaining of my absence from the workplace. A solo practice was born.

I guess you could say that my motives in becoming a solo were not “pure” since I really never had a choice. Over the past year I enjoyed the opportunity to work as a solo and I must say that it has been very interesting. I did not realize that I had not been taking time to really think about the practice of law. I had been responding to my case load but had never really thought about what the practice means or whether I was really satisfied in being an attorney. I had time to think and I am glad to say that I do like being an attorney.

I have practiced for the past year doing all of the work myself and I drew a great deal of satisfaction from that. In essence I intend to keep my solo practice because of the satisfaction which it gives me in working on matters without the interruption, costs, politics and travel time which you find in a normal office setting. It is amazing how much of the cost which is associated with having an outside office is not really necessary to do the job and do it right. It is very surprising to me but it appears my clients are not influenced by their need to come to my house now instead of the office. Further, I am surprised at the number of new clients who have hired me since moving my office home and it appears my new surroundings do not concern them either. The only real comment which I have received from any client is that it is very convenient to have an attorney who can meet with them in the evening or on a Saturday. I would not have provided this type of service before since I believe it would take away too much of my time with my family.

I still dress up when my clients come to call and when it is necessary to appear in public but I have found that it is not necessary to put on a coat and tie in order to practice law. I handled a Court of Claims Status conference, in a Vaccine case, just the other day over the phone and, dare I say, in my slippers.

While I cannot say that I am glad that I was involved in an automobile accident last year I can say that if it had not happened I would probably not have tried to become a solo and I would have missed out on a very rewarding experience.

by: Charles J. Cochran, Jr., Esq. and distilled from his blog Ohio Employment, Labor and Workers' Compensation Law Charles is based in Ohio and has been a practicing lawyer for 18 years.


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Deborah Bolen Miller

I just happened to google your name, and saw this article you wrote about going solo. I'm glad that its working out for you and hope that it continues to do so. I do remember your case load, very confusing for me to keep up with! But I learned alot and it was rewarding. Thanks for hiring me when I was laid off and being understanding when my family left for Maine! Good luck and God bless!

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