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Susan Nolen, Solo Practitioner (Attorney)

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Working as a solo practitioner has both pros and cons, just like any other attorney. Some of the pros include complete freedom over what cases they work on and making their own destiny. Some of the cons include a lower average salary compared to private practice attorneys and less support staff to help you in than you would have in private practice.

Solo practitioners enjoy various benefits that larger firm practitioners may lack, such as complete freedom over the cases they choose and the nature of their practice. That being said, there are some downsides to becoming a solo practitioner, including reduced staffing and a lower average salary as compared to larger firm practitioners. All in all, you should weigh your options and consider becoming a solo practitioner if it is the right fit for you.



1. Why did you decide to become a solo practitioner?

The company in which I worked as corporate counsel was merged with a company in Boston. They moved. I stayed. It was then I decided the time was right to try working for myself.

2. What is the best part of being a solo practitioner?

The best part of flying solo is the variety of clients and issues that come through my door. In a firm or a company, I was often slotted into a particular area of the law. Now I can accept any type of assignment, as long as it's one I know I can capably handle.

3. What is the worst part of being a solo practitioner?

The worst part of being a solo practitioner is having what I call the "back office" responsibilities: marketing, billing, collections. They take away from the fun stuff -- the practice of law!

4. What advice would you give to others looking to become a solo practitioner?

Have a financial cushion, in case it takes you longer than you anticipate building a client base. Make sure you have all the facts about a situation before you agree to represent a client. If your gut is telling you something doesn't sound right about what you're hearing, trust it. My favorite motto for both lawyering (and parenting):"Trust but verify."

Your computer is your friend! The more you can automate your practice, the higher your efficiency. It also makes for ease of communication and can be a great marketing tool.

5. What is a typical day like for you as a solo practitioner?

I like to schedule meetings in the mornings. If I have none, then that is the time I return phone calls/emails/text messages. Afternoons are for research/drafting/correspondence. Evenings are spent volunteering or attending meetings of civic groups to which I belong.  


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