At the moment I work as a solo practitioner and the model I use to provide services to my clients is a sort of virtual firm model where I bring other smaller firms into the mix to provide a coherent service to my clients based on their needs. In other words a couple small firms brought together to provide the expertise clients need and then go back to what they were doing before.
The point is Jacobson Attorneys is my trading name. It is me and an ad hoc consultant to my firm but essentially just me.
On the one hand referring to my firm as “we” gives the impression that the firm is made up of more than one lawyer. In a business where perceptions count for a lot, a perception that the firm is bigger than it really is may mean something to some clients. There seems to be this perception in the local marketplace that solo practitioners just can’t cut the mustard when compared to lawyers in larger firms so appearing bigger than a solo practice can mean the difference between receiving work and not.
On the other hand it is not very authentic to give the impression of being a “we” instead of a “me”. Authenticity is the hallmark of the social Web and that is where I focus my practice. It also doesn’t take very long for a visitor to my website to realise that there is only me, effectively. I’ve been talking about the change that is sorely needed in the legal profession here in South Africa on Twitter and I am only going to be talking about it more. Part of that discussion will include my thoughts about how small firms (including solos) can use a virtual model to come together on a project by project basis and provide a comprehensive and professional service to clients while giving clients the benefits of using small firms. It can be a very effective solution. Hopefully this model will help persuade clients that it isn’t about size but more about how you use what you’ve got!
So what do you think? Is the perception of size important enough to be somewhat disingenuous or is it either vital or simply ok (or both) to come out of the closet and be proud of being a solo practitioner?