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Transitioning to the lonely atmosphere of being a solo

By March 3, 2006Uncategorized

Many people have told me that they relish the idea of being a solo lawyer, but they have one overriding fear: loneliness.  People say "Ernie, won’t you miss the camraderie of being around people?"  Yes, I reply.  I will miss a lot of things about being in an office environment.  But, many of these things I can recreate or simulate in some way. 

For example, I’ve already decided that every other month I’m going to have a fire drill.  One thing I’m not going to try to recreate, however, is the experience of waiting for an elevator.

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  • It is hard to work alone, but you can’t let that stop you from clicking your heels together. You can be so busy, that you don’t even realize you’re alone,

    until it’s 7pmyou’re driving alone,breathing deep alas, and it happens–the onyx night reminds you.

  • Shawn Lea says:

    After the fire drill, you should start trying to spread vicious rumors about yourself. Then complain about the person who got the last cup of coffee without making another pot. 😉

  • This was my chapter in the last edition of Flying Solo – “How Not to be Lonely.” Of course, seems like my experience at my firm differed from yours, but here’s the gist anyway:

    Oddly enough, my days of being lonely as a lawyer ended when I started my solo practice.When I worked for others, I derived neither pleasure nor emotional satisfaction from my relationships with my colleagues. During my experience as a government attorney and then a law firm associate, my social contacts were narrowly circumscribed and ranged from simply superficial to downright uncomfortable. So-called water-cooler chats and lunches with my immediate peers consisted of dull chit-chat: no one ever talked about the things that draw people closer – like commiserating about a memo that had been ripped to shreds by a supervisor or sharing feelings of terror about an upcoming hearing for fear of appearing incompetent or less than perfect. My relationships with supervisors and law firm partners fared no better; the stratified office hierarchy discouraged me (and others on my level) from initiating lunch dates with my superiors – not that I would have anyway since every social encounter with them made me feel as if I was on an extended job interview.So after having been immersed in this kind of stunted social environment for five years, I actually looked forward to the solitude of solo practice. But after a couple of months squirreled away as a recluse in my basement office, I found myself craving social contact. Only now, liberated from the structures of an office, I found that I could expand my circle of colleagues and friends from my professional life to include a wider, more diverse, friendlier and more supportive group than was ever possible in my office days. Now, my circle of colleagues encompasses lawyers who practice in a variety of fields as well as non-lawyers and reflects a huge range of ages, genders and race and live not just in the city where I practice but across the country as well. To gather this group, I’ve either had to break many of the rules of socializing long ingrained in lawyers or develop my own new ways to pursue friendship. Here’s what I did as a solo to lose the loneliness and gain the sense of connection that had eluded me most when working for others […]

    5. Final ThoughtsIf you think about it, loneliness is a state of mind. You can, as I did, feel lonely in a work environment though surrounded by others with whom you ought to share some commonality, if only you could scratch below the thick facade. Or you can strike out as a solo and build a community of colleagues and friends who give support and sustenance against isolation and the frequent pressures of legal practice. That’s the path I chose and the greatest surprise I discovered: that as a solo, I wasn’t alone anymore.

  • Brooke Slusher says:

    Congrats Ernie!! Next time I’m in town I’ll have to check out the new space.

  • Robert says:

    Congrats E-man. Will this change mean you have more time for lunch?

  • Lucy says:

    You might want to order some ear-plugs, you know how deafening those fire alarms can be. And BTW, are you going to post escape routes in the bathrooms?

  • Rob Hyndman says:

    Here’s something that has worked for me, and that’s been great for business development, too:

  • Wow, best of luck to you on that! I’m trying to go to law school and am getting ready to take my LSAT in June.

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