Some Solos Find They Need Big-Firm Life

, The Legal Intelligencer


"I was getting very frustrated because I was managing the firm and, after the first year or two, my legal practice was really exploding in a lot of different directions," Doyle said.

By the time the firm grew to include nine attorneys and four patent agents, Doyle decided she needed to go somewhere where she could focus solely on being a lawyer.

But there were aspects of running her own firm that were non-negotiable for Doyle, such as the fixed-fee agreements she had established with her clients.

Doyle said Saul Ewing assured her that it would grandfather those agreements in if she joined the firm, making her decision to return to large-firm life "very easy."

Now, Doyle said, she can focus on her clients.

"Somebody else does the marketing, somebody else worries about making sure all the accounting is done, someone else worries about all the HR issues," Doyle said, adding, "I thought my practice was best served at a boutique, but I was very wrong."

Howard K. Kurman, a principal of Maryland-based Offit Kurman, which has grown largely through acquiring small firms and solo attorneys, said feeling bogged down by managerial duties is a common experience among those lawyers.

"Many of the small firm and solo lawyers really don't have the infrastructure to manage or be involved in administration and don't have any interest in doing that either," Kurman said, adding, "That's particularly true for solo practitioners where you're a one-man band—you're the interior decorator, the accounts receivable guy, the marketing director and you handle personnel or whatever. They don't have succession plans or the ability to assign work to anybody else."

But escaping administrative tasks is just one reason small firms and solo lawyers often seek out larger organizations.

Financial security is often another driver of such a decision.

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