Mar 01, 2017
On February 23, 2017 the Riverside County Law Library hosted, “The Small Firm Practice: Stories, Challenges, and Inspirations” from 6pm to 8:30pm. This MCLE was organized by the Asian Pacific American Lawyers of the Inland Empire. (APALIE) A four person panel covered the challenges of a solo practitioner. The panelists were Jennifer Gerard, Brian Pearcy, Greg Rizio and Ami Sheth Sagel, all Riverside attorneys.
All the panelists shared first-hand knowledge of the difficulties of being a solo practitioner. The role of a sole practitioner morphs into attorney, business person, marketer all the awhile trying to find time for your family.
The panelists shared their different experiences in becoming sole practitioners. Some of the attorneys had a big firm background but wanted to be on their own. Others wanted to work from home and another panelist moved to Riverside from Orange County.
They had insight to help those thinking of going solo. They mentioned the need to hire the best people you can. It will save you in the long run. Mr. Pearcy mentioned the number one problem clients have with attorneys is with communication. People complain they are unable to get a hold of their attorney. Mr. Rizio mentioned that his office made sure to find an available time slot for clients to get a hold of him. Mrs. Gerard mentioned she had an assistant back at her office that really helped with clients. Helped with billing questions and made sure she was compensated for her services.
Mrs. Gerard practices family law and covered some of the unique challenges to family law. She said family law discovery is very costly. It is important that clients are informed of every step in the billing process so as not be frustrated. This saves you in the long run from dealing with angry clients.
Branding was a topic also covered by the panel. Branding or having a logo was more important in the past. Now it’s more about search engine optimization in order for you brand to be recognized. Greg Rizio said marketing is now his second highest expense.
Another piece of advice the panelists had for the attorneys in the audience is to network. To not only meet other attorneys but to be part of city organizations. The need to meet people in the community. That is a great way of branding.
Lastly they mentioned one of the major pitfalls of being a solo practitioner. The social isolation that comes from working at home or a virtual office. They recommend that everyone network. It’s especially important for referrals and working opportunities. It’s important for people to come meet you. If anyone is interested in networking, please see our calendar of events. We have legal research classes, MCLEs and public workshops coming up.
Efren is a Library Assistant at our Temecula Law Resource Center.