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Last Updated: May 5, 2016 URL: Print Guide

Where to Begin Print Page

About this Guide

This guide is intended to provide resources for attorneys who are:

  • starting their own practice
  • working in an "office share" environment
  • working in a small law office, niche practice or boutique firm

The Web Resources link to materials that are freely available on the web.  The book resources are found here in the University of Akron Law Library.  

This is not meant to be a comprehensive resource.  I carefully picked a sampling of resources available on each topic.  There is more information out there but it can easily overwhelm a new attorney.  Use this library guide as a starting point to gather information on creating your own solo or small practice.

The library guide has tabs to help you focus on certain aspects of your practice.  I will update and add resources to keep the guide up-to-date.

Each state bar association has a solo practice committee that promotes small and solo firm practice.  Many of these state bars provide resources for running a law office.  The Ohio State Bar has a publication called OfficeKeeper.  It includes checklists, forms, procedures and references for opening and maintaining a law office.  If you practice in another state, visit your state’s bar association for something similar.

Definitions and links to information about office sharing, niche and boutique firms follow.

Office Sharing- " If you are a solo lawyer just starting out, sharing office space will allow you to pool resources, save money and ease the isolation of practicing alone." Source.

Niche Practice- “A niche practice is a legal practice focused on a distinct segment of the business market. You may not think of yourself as a specialist or intend to develop a niche practice, but your clients and referrals may pull you in a particular direction that can give you and/or your firm more recognition and make your business more profitable.”   Source.

"There are several ways to carve a niche out of the broader market. Some niche practices focus on practice areas, such as bankruptcy or personal injury law. Others focus on demographics, such as age, gender, occupation, income level, ethnic background, or marital status. Still others combine both practice area and demographic considerations—say, immigration law for athletes or estate planning for high-net-worth individuals. But in each case, the practice is focused on a distinct market segment." Source

Boutique Law Firms- "Boutique firms are dedicated to practicing one or two practice areas in which they are proficient."  The size of the firm varies from one to many lawyers.  Source.

Web Resources

  • 50 Web Resources for the Suddenly Solo Lawyer
    Jim Calloway and Allison C. Shields, Law Practice Today, April 2012.
    Great articles to read; blogs; guides, checklists and other sets of resources; legal discussion groups; resources from the American Bar Association.
  • Digital Law Practice (sponsored by CALI)
    The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is offering a FREE online course called Topics in Digital Law Practice. This course is designed to provide an overview of the changes that are occurring in the practice of law today, especially with respect to technology. It will introduce law students for real-world situations in virtual law practice that they will encounter in the job market.
  • Exploring Growing Areas of Law
    Janan Hanna, 41 (no. 6) Student Lawyer Feb. 2013. What are the hot areas of law?
  • Hanging a Shingle: How to Start Your Own Law Practice
    ABA Journal Podcast- Many lawyers dream of opening their own law firm, but sometimes the golden handcuffs are cinched too tight to make it a reality. Some lawyers who actually did it discuss the challenges, and rewards, with ABA Journal podcast moderator Stephanie Francis Ward.
  • Hot Practice Profiles
    Janan Hanna, 40 (no. 6) Student Lawyer Feb. 2012.
  • How to Start a Law Firm (Findlaw)
    This site provides free resources related to startup issues encountered by solo and small law firm practices. Browse, read, and share FindLaw's collection of articles, tips and lists that focus on How to Start a Law Firm.
  • Law Grads Going Solo and Loving It
    The recession has forced many new lawyers to hang their own shingle; some are succeeding.
  • OfficeKeeper- Ohio State Bar Association
    OfficeKeeper is a nuts and bolts resource guide to opening, maintaining and closing a law office, covering both the day-to-day operations of a law office, as well as professional responsibility. It includes checklists, forms, references and links to websites and the new Model Rules. (PDF is 278 pages)
  • Opening a New Law Pracitce
    The articles from "Opening a Law Practice" issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal, published in October 2012 are now all available online.
  • Roadmap for a Small Law Practice
    Joshua Stein and Donald H. Oppenheim, Practical Real Estate Lawyer 29-32, November 2012.
    The best investment you make in your new law practice can consist of planning it right.
    This article includes a business plan for a small law practice as well as commentary for what worked or what could have been done differently. The author established his own law firm after two decades as a partner in a large global firm.
  • Small Law Firms Blog
    A Thomson Reuters Blog for providing solo and small law firms with relevant information to stay current on hot topics, run a successful practice, and balance life outside of the office. See postings on maintaining law firm financial records, client file maintenance, balancing the practice of law along with managing your firm, etc.
  • Solo and Small Firm Resource Center- ABA
    Marketing, technology, practice management, CLE & Substantive Law Resources for Solo Lawyers & Small Firms.
  • Solos Encourage Students to Consider the Shingle
    Ed Funkel, 41 no. 8 Student Lawyer 28-32, April 2013
  • Start a Law Firm Guide (at
    An excellent online "Start a Law Firm Guide," by Carolyn Elefant. is also a good blog to follow.
  • Starting a Law Practice
    Checklists, sample forms, and kit for starting a law practice. Provided by the Missouri Bar. Useful even if not practicing in Missouri. The Law Practice Start-up Kit has a checklist for starting a practice on pages 4-10 (PDF is 34 pages).
  • Starting Your Own Firm Resource Center (Lexis Guide)
    Hanging your own shingle: start, run and grown your new firm. Lexis provides links to useful information. No log-in needed.
  • Starting & Managing a Business
    U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • Suddenly Solo Law Firms (from Lexis)
    How to start, run, and grow a successful business when- by choice or change- you're going it along.
  • They started their own firm right after law school–and so can you (podcast with transcript)
    Free podcast provided by ABA Journal.
    Unlike fellow graduates in the Class of 2012, Katie Kizer and Amanda Graham weren’t worried about finding jobs after law school—because they had decided a year earlier that they would start their own criminal-defense firm together.


Cover Art
Flying Solo: a survival guide for the solo and small firm lawyer - K. William Gibson
Call Number: Law Treatises KF300 .F58 2005
ISBN: 1590314808
Publication Date: 2005-07-26
If you are only going to purchase one book on starting a solo law practice...this is the one to buy! Take a look at the library's copy first.

Cover Art
From Law School to Law Practice - Suzanne B. O'Neill; Ronald L. Jones
Call Number: Law Treatises KF300 .O56 2008
ISBN: 0831800097
Publication Date: 2008-01-01

Cover Art
Solo Contendere : how to go directly from law school into the practice of law without getting a job - Marc D. Garfinkle
Call Number: Law Treatises KF300 .G37 2011
ISBN: 0984380124
Publication Date: 2010-02-01
You can afford to go solo -- How are you going to do this? -- Start small, start smart -- Practice defensively -- Become a lawyer's lawyer -- Developing a "real" clientele -- Going to court--a primer -- A few words about clients -- Getting paid -- Worst-case scenario: parlay your solo practice into a real job

Cover Art
Going small or solo : the right stuff to maximize your chance for success - Ohio State Bar Association
Call Number: Law Treatises KF300 .G63 2009
Publication Date: 2009
Do you have the right stuff (to go small or solo)? / Barbara J. Howard -- Organization of your practice / Rick L. Brunner -- Financial management for the new law practice / Jay Erdman -- Practice considerations when purchasing legal malpractice insurance and other types of insurance for the law office / Gretchen Koehler Mote -- Technology needs / Barron K. Henley and Paul J. Unger -- Human resources issues / Pamela S. Krivda

Cover Art
Minding Your Business - Ann M. Guinn
Call Number: Law Treatises KF318 .G85 2010
ISBN: 9781604427899
Publication Date: 2010
Solo and small firm lawyer's guide to a profitable practice.

Cover Art
The Lawyer's Guide to Balancing Life and Work - George W. Kaufman
Call Number: Law Treatises KF298 .K38 2006
ISBN: 1590316746
Publication Date: 2006

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