‘SmallSolos’ Could Be Threatened by BigLaw Refugees, Blogger Says
Posted Apr 10, 2009 9:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Updated: Will solo practitioners be threatened by BigLaw refugees deciding to hang their own shingles?
Blogger and technology consultant Ross Kodner thinks it's a possibility. Writing at the TechnoLawyer Blog, he called BigLaw refugees “BigSolos” and said they bring to the practice “top-notch legal skills and in many cases a potent book of commercial business.”
He compared BigSolos to what he calls “SmallSolos”—those who often have general practices with a consumer focus, and who learned the ropes in their own practices or in small firms.
“What does BigSolo mean for the solo and small-firm market? Watch out!” Kodner writes. “When the economy tightens, and [BigSolos] need to compete for smaller clientele, they'll become arch-competitors—formidable challengers for the traditional base of SmallSolo clientele.”
Some BigSolos will fail miserably, Kodner said. But those who retain the right outside expertise could have an advantage. “Look out SmallSolos, because those BigSolos may eat your lunch,” he writes.
At least one blogger is taking issue with Kodner’s post—Susan Cartier Liebel, who has launched a Web-based educational and networking community called Solo Practice University. Writing on the university’s blog, Build a Solo Practice, Liebel says the BigSolo versus SmallSolo distinction is “destructive to the solo community.”
“Solos have long suffered an image of one clinging to the lowest professional tiers within a caste system first starting within law school and perpetuated with the image of BigLaw as being the apex of professional success,” Liebel writes. “Solos have been seen as somehow lesser than, also rans and less expert. And we know this couldn’t be further from the truth. …
“By inadvertently, and I do believe it is inadvertent, attempting to create a new term like ‘BigSolo’ (and ‘SmallSolo’) there is the potential to construct a new caste system within the ranks of solos, establishing another wedge between professionals.”
Kodner revisits the issue on his own blog, Ross Ipsa Loquitur, and refers to "the debate about the semantics." He points out that he himself is the owner of a small consulting business called MicroLaw, and says bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. “Not now, not EVER was that true in my book. I’m small and DAMNED proud of it,” Kodner writes.
Updated at 1:30 p.m. to include Kodner's post at Ross Ipsa Loquitur.