How to Succeed as a Solo Law Practitioner in Texas
Published on January 23, 2024 Law Practice Management
Whether you’re venturing into solo law practice as a fresh law school graduate or want to go off on your own after working at a larger firm for a few years, you need to start on the right foot.
The State Bar of Texas has many programs and resources to help solo practitioners in all stages of their careers thrive and succeed in their practice.
Keep reading to learn more about what the State Bar of Texas has to offer.
Recent Solo and Small Firm Stats
Less than 1% of Law School Graduates Go into Solo Practice Post-Graduation
According to the American Bar Association’s 2023 Profile of the Legal Profession report, “the number of graduates who went into solo practice straight out of law school continue[s] to decline.” As of this report, only 0.5% of graduates embark on the solo law practice path. Most graduates take jobs at large law firms, in the government, or at law schools.
While this statistic seems abysmally low, it makes sense. Recent graduates might prefer to get their feet wet by working at a large firm instead of diving into the deep end of solo practice immediately post-graduation. It is possible to go solo—you just need a foolproof plan in place. Easier said than done, right?
Balancing Time Between Practicing Law and Administrative Tasks
One of the biggest issues solo and small law firms face is balancing administrative tasks with the actual practice of law. For many years, small firms struggled to make progress in this aspect, but things are finally starting to change.
According to a 2023 report from Thomson Reuters, small firm lawyers allot 61% of their time to the practice of law. In 2021 and 2022, the percentage was 56%. This may seem like a slight increase, but it’s a hopeful harbinger of a future where the focus shifts to what matters (practicing law).
Comparatively, other tasks such as meeting clients, managing the firm, dealing with administrative duties, and marketing took up 40% of the time of those surveyed. While this Thomson Reuters report focused on firms with 29 lawyers or fewer, it’s a good representation of what solo practitioners expect to face. Visit LawSites for a deeper breakdown of the 2023 State of U.S. Small Law Firms report.
It may seem daunting. If small firms get their time eaten up with administrative tasks and can scarcely devote 60% of their time to the practice of law, how can a solo practitioner do it? It’s going to be a lot of work, but it is doable.
Top Resources from the State Bar of Texas to Help You Achieve the Success You Deserve
You don’t have to dive into the deep end on your own. Just because it’s called “solo” law practice doesn’t mean you can’t get help along the way. There are various programs out there geared towards helping lawyers who are just starting out. Here are some of our favorites.
TOJI, the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator, is the flagship program of the State Bar of Texas addressing the justice gap. TOJI helps lawyers across Texas build solo law practices that serve low-income and modest-income Texans.
Modeled after tech incubators from Silicon Valley, TOJI is a 12-month virtual program in which members receive group training, personal coaching, and access to resources so they can grow their businesses. Structured around weekly trainings over remote videoconferencing, TOJI members can gain valuable insight regarding office technology, business planning, marketing, practice management, productivity, and finances.
Look into the Texas Young Lawyers Association
The Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) is a public service arm of the State Bar of Texas. They offer legal resources, guides, articles, videos, and more to young lawyers and students alike. You can also volunteer or join the TYLA board itself. Click here to learn more about how to get involved with TYLA.
The best part? All licensed Texas attorneys under the age of 36 or in their first five years of practice, regardless of age, are automatic members of TYLA. This resource is there for you. Make sure to follow the TYLA Instagram account to stay up to date on all their goings-on!
Visit Our Law Practice Management Page
Perhaps the most complete source of resources for lawyers in all stages of their practice, the Law Practice Management Program of the State Bar of Texas (LPM) provides guidance on how to make law practices as profitable, sustainable, and healthy as possible.
Initially serving solo and small firm practitioners on questions of day-to-day practice, LPM has evolved to address new and emerging challenges in contemporary law practice. Topics range from starting a practice to closing a practice and everything in between.
LPM has in-depth content vetted by experienced attorneys to help you succeed. Topics under the “Starting a Practice” category include choosing an entity structure, documenting client expenses and attorney’s fees, and implementing a law office business plan.
If you’re looking for guidance on a certain topic, odds are there’s an LPM article about it. Even if you can’t find a particular topic, you can reach out to the LPM team at 512-427-1300 or email@example.com for more information.
Fill Out the Texas Bar Practice Scholarship Form
The State Bar of Texas is committed to making high-quality legal publications from Texas Bar Practice accessible to all its members, across all income categories.
If you are a member of the State Bar in good standing and have requested fewer than three titles through the scholarship program in the last twelve months, you qualify for our scholarship program.
Scholarships may be applied to the purchase of digital versions of Texas Bar Books publications. To learn more and sign up for scholarship, click here.
Check Out Content from Texas Bar Practice: Blog Posts, Videos, Newsletters, and More
Texas Bar Practice creates content to help law practitioners improve the way they practice law. Our content takes shape in blog posts, newsletters, and videos. Some of the most relevant posts for solo or new lawyers include:
- Surviving Your First Year as a Lawyer
- AI in the Legal Industry
- The Ultimate Blogging Guide for Lawyers
- The Go-To Guide to Social Media for Attorneys
- A Closer Look at the Succession Planning Toolkit
Make sure to subscribe to our blog newsletter to get notified whenever a new blog post goes live. Don’t forget to check out the Texas Bar Practice YouTube channel for tutorials and videos on relevant topics for lawyers.
Make Use of All the Best Resources for Solo Practitioners in Texas
This is just a small sampling of what the State Bar of Texas has to offer for new lawyers and solo practitioners alike. For a deeper look at specific topics for solo practitioners, don’t hesitate to visit TexasBarCLE. There are many online courses, webcasts, and video replays available. The online library also includes useful articles such as:
Otto Nicli is part of the State Bar's Web team and serves as the blog writer for the Texas Bar Practice website. He also plays a part in marketing and video production. In his free time, he enjoys watching Top Chef with his wife, collecting records, reading, and going to shows.