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Study: More Men Go Into Solo Practice

Posted Sep 18, 2007 3:55 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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It might seem counterintuitive. But a massive 10-year study found that men going into solo practice far outnumber the women who do so.

Although more women associates and partners leave law firms than men, it isn't to go into solo practice. About two-thirds of the lawyers who launch their own one-attorney law firms are men, despite the fact that some women, as stereotype has it, might be more likely to do so with the support of a salaried spouse, according to a New York Lawyer (reg. req.) reprint of a National Law Journal article.

Possible explanations for the discrepancy include a greater reluctance by women to take risks, a need for the stability and benefits that a position with a larger law firm provides and increasing efforts by some law firms to establish a workplace that supports parents of young children.

Particularly for a lawyer with a specialized practice, "It's very difficult to make a living," says Andrea Eckl, a Hicksville, N.Y. matrimonial lawyer. She started her own firm at home after graduating from law school in 1982, because she wanted to have children, and then practiced as a solo for 25 years. Had she been single when she went out on her own, Eckl says, she couldn't have made it financially.

But others say solo practice is a good option. "More women need to understand there are bigger, brighter and better options for being entrepreneurs than they fully understand," says Susan Cartier. Formerly a Northford, Conn., sole practitioner, she now is a consultant for lawyers considering such careers.

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