Document Type



Legal Education | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility | Legal Profession


Solo and small law firm practitioners have long been regarded as marginal, unmentored, unethical and inadequately trained members of the legal profession. Yet technological advances and demographic changes in this segment of the bar suggest reasons for re-examining this view. In an effort to gain a clearer understanding of the current state of the professional development of these lawyers, 41 solo and small firm practitioners in the New York City metropolitan area were interviewed about their work lives and professional development. The questions posed were designed to explore how, if at all, office settings, mentors and other colleagues contribute to the skills development of these lawyers and their ethical decision-making. The article describes and reflects on the findings that these lawyers work in a rich social environment in which they receive more mentoring, skills training and advice from colleagues than previously believed. Nevertheless, the manner in which they increasingly are organizing their offices may ultimately undermine some of the best features of solo and small firm practice.