Be Thankful!

Law Firm Size? Grow Where You’re Planted

By | Nov.27.13 | Daily Dispatch, Law Firm Culture, Law Practice

getting clients title showing three people

There are oh-so-many things to be grumpy about. We could start with politics. Or the traffic. Or even the coming holidays. But let’s not, eh? Being grumpy is just too easy.

Instead, let’s shoot for the flip side of grumpy and go for grateful this pre-Thanksgiving day. Take something as simple as the size of your law firm. How many times have you thought, “If only I was with a [fill in the blank] firm, it would be different!” The truth is … there’s something to be thankful about in any size law firm. To wit, consider these things about your firm size.

In a Solo Practice

  • You can dress and decorate how you please. No one is going to question your choice of socks or hair color (what purple streak?) or office accessory — even if it’s a Pomeranian.
  • It’s a simple matter to change your mind and do things differently for a while.
  • You don’t have to be a systems engineer to know what’s going on. It’s all happening within arm’s reach.
  • A person can get a little peace and quiet around there.
  • You don’t have to wait for other people to make up their minds about how much money you can take home.
  • Firm name? A no-brainer.
  • You can run like the wind and stop on a dime.

In a Small Firm

  • You can say “Good morning” to every person in the office by simply walking to the coffee machine and back — and you even know their names!
  • Firm management is rarely a mystery. Closed-door meetings are few and “transparency” is difficult to avoid.
  • You know your colleagues’ practices, workloads, temperaments and networks. Cross-selling? It’s much easier to brag about someone else than to talk about yourself.
  • You can try a thing or two without risking it all.
  • If you’re lucky, your slow times are balanced out by your partner’s busy-busy ones.
  • Your ideas and hard work can easily make a difference to the whole firm.
  • You get credit when it’s due, but you don’t have to carry the load all alone, either.
  • You may not have the deepest bench, but you always know who you can count on.

In a Big Firm

  • You have other people who are paid to worry about technology, staffing, phone systems, insurance, emptying the trash, stocking the kitchen … you name it. Your job is to practice law.
  • You show up everywhere prepackaged in the reputation of your firm’s good name.
  • The financial ups and downs of your personal practice are easier to weather.
  • There is security to be found in making decisions as a group.
  • You get to learn about new cities and states (and maybe even countries) when you visit your firm’s multiple offices.
  • You and your colleagues have star power! Just look at the next issue of The American Lawyer! It’s all about big firms.
  • In the office after hours? You’re never alone because there’s always something going on.
  • There’s never a problem finding enough people to pitch in, whether it’s to finish a deal, or for the bowling team, or for that Habitat for Humanity project.

Merrilyn Astin Tarlton has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Follow her on Twitter @astintarlton

Illustration ©istock.

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