The Business of Practicing Law
The Work Lives of Solo and Small-Firm Attorneys
Publication: Mar 96
6 x 9
3 tables 1 figure
A compelling portrait of the dilemmas and work lives of solo and small-firm attorneys
When Jacoby and Myers made it big with their low-budget legal services and prolific advertising, the business of practicing law was forever changed. This book provides great insight into that continually expanding boundary between professionalism and commercialism.
Technology, the expansion of a service-based economy, and the entry of more and more women into the legal profession have had a dramatic effect on the day-to-day business of practicing law. Carroll Seron's discerning examination of the work lives of solo and small-firm attorneys, in contrast to large corporate firms, considers how the small legal entrepreneur must balance professionalism with commerce.
The men and women in Seron's book detail a range of creative strategies for getting business, organizing work, and serving clients. What emerges is a multifaceted picture of everything from the day-to-day grind to ways that individuals have expanded or, conversely, scaled down or specialized their practices. Most illuminating is Seron's exploration of the gender differences in practicing law, acquiring business, getting promotions, and balancing personal and professional lives. While a large percentage of married women attorneys are also responsible for the bulk of home and child care, most married men attorneys have a support network at home, which gives them time to generate contacts at social and political functions.
"The changing small law practice is portrayed in this lively and astute book, against the backdrop of the complex web of a changing urban environment, the participation of women in the profession, and the new technology. Seron's rich and important study will be a resource for scholars on the professions and the general public wanting to know what it means to be 'on your own' these days."
—Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, author of Women in Law
"In this book Carroll Seron provides invaluable new insight into the work lives of lawyers practicing solo and in small firms.... This book cautions scholars to be more sensitive to the heterogeneity of the legal profession and offers to prospective lawyers practical insights on the complex choices they will face if they enter solo or small firm practice, while providing bar leaders with a fresh perspective on an important part of the profession."
—Robert MacCrate, Former President, American Bar Association
"Carroll Seron has written a penetrating, comprehensive account of that half of all American lawyers who practice alone or in small firms.... Through lengthy interviews with more than a hundred lawyers in greater New York, Seron makes their work, feelings, and aspirations come vividly to life.... Her book will be invaluable to sociologists of the professions; but its most avid readers are likely to be solo and small firm practitioners, who will find their daily dilemmas sympathetically portrayed and perceptively explained."
—Richard L. Abel, Connell Professor of Law, UCLA
Read a review from Law & Politics Book Review, Volume 6.12 (December 1996).
Table of Contents
1. Professionalism versus Commercialism
2. The Terrains of Postindustrialization
3. Negotiating Time
4. Getting Clients
5. Organizing Practices
6. "The Managing-Marketing End"
7. Serving Clients and Consumers
8. Serving the Public
9. The Social Patterns of Private Professional Practice
About the Author(s)
In the Series
Labor and Social Change edited by Paula Rayman and Carmen Sirianni
Labor and Social Change, edited by Paula Rayman and Carmen Sirianni, includes books on workplace issues like worker participation, quality of work life, shorter hours, technological change, and productivity, as well as union and community organizing and ethnographies of particular occupations.