July 20, 2019

Archives for August 15, 2012

Is Solo Practice a Good Fit for You?

Today’s economy can lead seasoned attorneys, mid-career laterals and even freshly minted law grads into solo practice. But is solo practice a good fit for you? No matter the stage of your career, there are questions to ask yourself and options to examine to determine whether this is your best choice before you launch a solo practice.

How Many Hats Can I Wear?

Opening a solo practice means wearing many hats to handle all the functions in the firm—in addition to practicing law. A lawyer stepping out of a larger firm may find herself a bit ill-equipped to manage all the details required in running a law office, even a solo one. That realization—sometimes a difficult one—may lead to the need for extra support, either outsourced or in-house, to cover everything from bookkeeping and billing to marketing and technology support, plus other administrative duties. Acknowledge your strengths and interests, and then plan ways to cover the rest so you can balance both the administrative and the legal side of running the practice.

What Is My Vision of Solo Practice?

Do you view solo practice as a temporary or long-range option? Will you focus on one practice niche or several areas? Do you anticipate a need for support through a paralegal, legal assistant or other? Will you need the involvement of other lawyers? Many solo lawyers network and solidify of counsel relationships with their peers to plug into particular client matters as the need arises. Being prepared in advance is key to ensuring solid legal services and handling client expectations.

Who Would Be My Best Client?

Think about the areas of practice you want to concentrate in. Consider your background and experience—what types of client matters do you enjoy? Describe your best client and explore why that’s the case. Developing key areas of practice where you have both experience and interest to grow and develop will lead you on a path to a satisfying and successful practice.

What Is My Ideal Practice Setting?

The location of your office depends on the type of clients you want to serve. Are your clients businesses or consumers? How will the physical office affect attracting clients? Will clients need to visit you often or only occasionally? Endless technology options can support your law practice wherever it is, but you still need to decide what setting works best for you. Do you enjoy tossing around a legal issue or argument among a group of other legal minds? If so, consider renting within a suite of other lawyers. Or if you desire a strong presence, explore leasing or owning your own space. While working from home may seem like paradise, it is not always wise to bring clients to your home. You might consider a virtual office with a professional business address and renting a conference room for meeting with clients on confidential matters.

How Will I Find Clients?

To build your business, you must have a strong strategic plan that makes marketing and business development a high priority. Concentrate on marketing a few key areas of your practice. Reach out and network—you can learn and gain valuable insights by getting active in your local bar or other specialty law groups. Develop your writing and speaking skills so you can share your knowledge with potential clients. Weave your interests and experience into your online presence through your website and social media as you develop your place in a niche.

Remember, too, that in a solo setting, you may no longer be perceived as competition by your peers. This is a good thing. Communicate how you can be of value to them by helping when conflicts arise in their own firms. Their good feelings about you can result in a stream of solid referrals.

Ellyn Caruso is principal of CarusoPR, a group that combines strategy, creativity and technology. Ellyn is passionate about delivering persuasive marketing and public relations programs to help attorneys, businesses and organizations. She brings more than 25 years of public relations experience serving national and international clients. She also contributes to the Attorney at Work blog, where this post originally appeared on August 14, 2012.

CLE Program: Hanging Your Shingle

This CLE presentation will take place from Thursday, August 16 through Saturday, August 18. Participants may attend live in our classroom or watch the live webcast.

If you can’t make the live program or webcast, the program will also be available as a homestudy in three formats: video on-demand, mp3 download, and audio CD. The course materials will also be available.

Tenth Circuit: Court May Work to Clarify Ambiguous Initial Verdict at Trial Before Sentencing Occurs; Asking Jury to Deliberate Further Is Not Coercive

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Shippley on Tuesday, August 14, 2012.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Petitioner served as the “Sergeant at Arms” for a chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club, and his job was to ensure members were armed and ready for confrontations with rival gangs. “After a massive nationwide investigation and ‘take down’ of the club in 2008, [Petitioner] found himself facing a federal drug conspiracy charge. His chief accuser . . . a former club president, longtime felon, and sometimes federal informant, testified at trial that [Petitioner] was responsible for supplying considerable amounts of high quality cocaine for resale to retail customers.”

At the end of trial, the jury returned a general verdict finding [Petitioner] guilty of the conspiracy charge. “But in response to the court’s special interrogatories, the jury indicated that [Petitioner] had not conspired to distribute any of the drugs listed in the indictment. In effect, the jury both convicted and acquitted [Petitioner] of the charged conspiracy.” The district court ordered the jury to deliberate further, and those further deliberations quickly yielded an unambiguous guilty verdict.

Petitioner argues the district court erred and should have entered a verdict of acquittal and that the district court coerced the jury, violating his Fifth Amendment right to due process and his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. The Court disagreed. A district court may work to clarify an ambiguous initial verdict at trial, long before any sentencing occurs, which is what the court did. The district court did not later interpret this ambiguity against Petitioner at sentencing. Additionally, merely asking a jury to deliberate further is not inherently coercive after the jury has reached a definitive if inconsistent verdict.


Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 8/14/12

On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and six unpublished opinions.

Thigpen v. Daniels

United States v. Buckley

Celaya-Martinez v. Holder, Jr.

McKinley v. Maddox

United States v. Gonzales

Mascarenas Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Albuquerque

No case summaries are provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.