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Practice Motivation for Solo Practitioners

  • March 13, 2024
  • Rajen Akalu

In my view, as a practicing solo lawyer, solo practitioners are the thin edge of the wedge that is our legal system. While solo practitioners may not have the biggest clients, they generally take on far more personal responsibility than lawyers in larger law firms. This lends itself to character-building and may also elicit crushing effects on the brave souls who choose to practice law this way. There is a freedom that comes with practicing solo that large firms may not provide. 

If you are a solo practitioner, chances are you are going to be a highly motivated self-starter. However, you will also be acutely aware of your limitations, as you are often required to work at your personal capacity. We can all use help and encouragement to stay motivated. It’s important to remind ourselves why solo practitioners should be respected by the legal profession and selected by clients in the market for legal services.

Hiring a solo practicing lawyer can offer several advantages. Here are some of the key benefits and a handy list that you can use when explaining how you add value to the clients you serve.

  1. Personalized Attention: Solo practicing lawyers tend to have fewer clients, allowing them to dedicate more time and attention to each case. This means you can expect a higher level of personal attention and a deeper understanding of your specific legal needs.
  2. Direct Communication: When working with a solo practitioner, you typically communicate directly with the lawyer handling your case. This direct line of communication promotes a better understanding of your concerns and enables more efficient decision-making throughout the legal process.
  3. Lower Fees: Solo practitioners often have lower overhead costs compared to large law firms. This can translate into more affordable legal fees and cost-effective solutions for your legal matters, making legal representation more accessible.
  4. Flexibility and Adaptability: Solo practicing lawyers have more flexibility in tailoring their approach to meet your specific needs. They can adapt quickly to changing circumstances and provide customized solutions without the bureaucracy or rigid structures sometimes found in larger firms.
  5. Focused Legal Acumen: Many solo practitioners specialize in specific areas of law, allowing them to develop deep expertise in their chosen field. Solo practitioners are acutely aware of the limitations of their own competence. They have less of an incentive to take on legal work they may not be able to perform, so if they do take on your file, they are more likely see it to completion.
  6. Continuity and Consistency: When working with a solo practicing lawyer, you have the advantage of having the same attorney handle your case from start to finish. This ensures continuity and consistency throughout the legal process, as opposed to multiple lawyers handling different aspects of your case in larger firms.
  7. Strong Client-Lawyer Relationship: With a solo practitioner, you have the opportunity to build a strong, long-term relationship with your attorney. This relationship is based on trust, understanding and effective communication, which can greatly enhance the quality of legal representation and outcomes.
  8. Efficient Decision-Making: Fewer layers of bureaucracy in solo practices often result in quicker decision-making processes. This agility can be advantageous in time-sensitive legal matters, allowing you to make informed decisions promptly.
  9. Increased Accountability: As the sole legal professional handling your case, a solo practitioner bears direct responsibility for the outcomes. This heightened level of accountability can motivate them to provide top-quality service and prioritize your best interests.
  10. Confidentiality and Privacy: Working with a solo practitioner can offer an added layer of confidentiality and privacy. With fewer individuals involved in your case, there is reduced risk of sensitive information being shared unintentionally.

Without creating unrealistic client expectations, it is helpful to consider how you specifically incorporate these advantages in your own law practices, and also, how you might refine your practice.

In my own case, I started my practice doing residential real estate and wills. I thought (naively) that, “everyone needs somewhere to live and everyone dies; this practice area has to be in high demand!” This, of course, did not work out as I imagined, but the experience did teach me a lot about practice management – something law school does not teach. Now I work primarily on privacy law and information governance. I’m less stressed, better suited to this work and my clients are happier. Finding your niche takes time, but you learn how to be flexible and adaptable in the process. Ultimately, regardless of the size of the firm, clients care about whether you can solve their problem. As you deal with so many problems when starting a solo practice, you will become proficient at problem-solving. There’s no other choice!

So, if you’re just starting out or getting burnt out, just remember as a solo practitioner you are at least the ‘master of your own fate and the captain of your soul.’ Courage, my lawyer, your head will get bloodied, but it can remain unbowed”[1]

About the author

head-shot photo of author Rajen AkaluRajen Akalu is associate professor in the Faculty of Business and IT at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa.  He is also the founder of Akalu Law Corporation. His research interests as well as law firm practice areas relate to information privacy law and technology.


[1] William Earnest Henley, Invictus, available online at