According to a report from Clio entitled “Legal Trends for Solo Law Firms,” revenues for solo law practices fell by 5-7% more than those of larger firms at the start of the pandemic (April-June 2020).
In covering the report, ABA Journal fails to recognize the limitations of solo practices more broadly. Even in the best of times, it’s widely known that there’s a cap on revenues without bringing on additional talent. If you don’t hire more associates, merge with other small firms, or join forces with new partners, you miss out on the financial upsides of their revenue-generating work. What Clio’s numbers show is that not only do the revenues of solo practices increase less in good times, but they also decrease more in bad times.
This isn’t all bad news. The lesson is clear for those solo practitioners struggling more than ever due to the pandemic: increase your leverage by tapping into the talent of others. Changes in demand over the past year have shaken up the legal services industry and created unprecedented opportunities to find new talent. The days of contract work only being utilized for document reviews are long gone, which means solo practitioners can now add lawyers and staff-level talent in more ways. Non-equity partners and Of Counsel at other firms provide especially valuable options. Senior associates remain a good possibility as well. The report from Clio is a stark reminder of how vulnerable many solo practices can be, and the success or failure of solos will depend in large measure on their ability to take advantage of opportunities to attract talent.