Letters to the Editor

Bloggy Eyes

Posted Feb 1, 2010 5:10 AM CDT

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Regarding “The Blawg 100,” December: Good list. I found a few new blogs to check out.

I’m glad to see some excellent business-of-law blogs such as Rees Morrison’s Law Department Management blog and Ron Friedmann’s Strategic Legal Technology blog (which I see as more of a business-of-law than a technology blog these days, although it is a hybrid that mixes the two themes well). It’s interesting that no blogs dedicated to legal process outsourcing made the list this year.

Paul C. Easton
Taichung, Taiwan


How about adding the 10 worst blogs next year? There are some spectacularly awful ones out there.

As a biotech/pharma IP practitioner (U.S. patent agent) with my own solo practice, I rely on numerous blogs to keep me current. I particularly like Dennis Crouch’s Patently-O and Gene Quinn’s IP Watchdog, although I find Patent Baristas annoying and overly relied upon by numerous in-house counsel I know. I also read some corporate counsel, Supreme Court and health law blogs.

Finally, folks other than attorneys (legal administrators, legal secretaries, paralegals, etc.) read these blogs on a daily basis. Typical of the ABA Journal to ignore the fact that the rest of us exist!

Alexandra J. “Sandy” Baran
Palo Alto, Calif.


NOTARY ISLAND

Your article "Notoriety for Notarios,” December, fails to mention that in the jurisdiction of Puerto Rico all notaries must be lawyers authorized to practice in this jurisdiction. In addition to the bar examination, you must take an additional examination to be certified as a notary public.

As indicated, you must be an attorney, but not all attorneys are notaries. That is, you may decline to take the notary public exam and even if certified as a notary public you may decide not to practice this aspect of the profession. Notary practice is strictly supervised by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, and many lawyers have been disbarred not only as notarios but have also lost their attorney license for violations of the rules governing the practice of notaries.

Carlos M. Cardona
Carolina, Puerto Rico


FOUR-FOOTED JUSTICE

In response to “Going to the Dogs—in a Good Way,” December, I think dogs should receive some justice too. Instead of breeding dogs for the purpose of serving humans, we should be getting them out of the shelters if we want them so badly. Unfortunately, the Assistance Dogs International webpage states: “In general, during a visit to the shelter only 1 to 5 percent of the dogs might qualify.” It also discourages people from starting programs out of a love for dogs because it’s really “about helping people.” As an animal lawyer, I advocate for the welfare of animals, not the killing of dogs in shelters.

Jill Ballard
San Diego


SOLO OUTLOOK

Deborah l. Cohen’s “So You Want to Go Solo? You Sure?” in the November issue raises a lot of good points.

It’s one thing to want to break free of the constraints of working for someone else. However, as with any entrepreneurial venture, there are major risks (and potential rewards) to consider before making that leap. This article does a great job of pointing them out and provides some valuable suggestions and resources to those of us thinking about going solo.

Denise M. Quimby
Chicago


My 29 years of being a sole practitioner have been lonely, stressful, and without a moment of feeling any financial security. Yes, it is nice to take off for a day of walking or touring without accounting to anyone, but this freedom can be equally enjoyed in a small firm.

The absence of a nearby learned colleague off of whom to bounce ideas and problems generates a sense of isolation. Sure, it is always possible to talk with colleagues down the street, but the stark reality is that your brain and your desk are all you have.

Furthermore, only a handful of sole practitioners are lucky and blessed enough to find a long-term, loyal legal assistant. Believe you me, when an assistant quits with short notice, the hell of sole practice strikes again. However, an undeniable sense of accomplishment does result from deriving a living from practicing law for clients produced by one’s own efforts.

If a lawyer chooses to pursue sole practice with knowledge of the serious downsides and a resolve to confront and deal with those downsides, the potential for self-fulfillment is high.

R. Nicholas Burton
Decatur, Ill.


One thing not stressed enough in this article? The need for capital. As one attorney says, “I am living off my savings.” I cannot stress enough how important it is to have money to begin with; if you’re trying this on a shoestring, your stress will be off the charts. Nothing is more stressful than a $150 phone bill and $1,000 rent when you only have $800 in the account.

Plan better, you say? Sure, you can criticize. But clients don’t pay timely, and sometimes not at all. You may find it’s not so easy to cut and run, and avoid losses too. And at first your estimates of what you’ll need in way of a retainer will be awful—often too low, rarely too high.

Then there’s the recommendation of other work, such as being a contract attorney or temp. Problem is, if you’re not out there marketing yourself, there will be no income once the assignment ends. This is a common solo problem: You’re busy, so you have no time to market; but then when you’re not busy, you have no clients.

Sure there are solos who make big dollars (see the ABA Journal from April 2007 for “The Secrets of Million-Dollar Solos”). But many of them either came from a firm where they’d developed clients they took with, or had the good fortune to get some high-profile work that helped bring in more (often through connections nurtured over the years).

Oh, and myself and many solos I know have seen a serious drop-off in business over the last year, as small businesses and individuals avoid “expensive” lawyers. So there’s that to deal with as well.

Greg Zbylut
Chicago

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