Report on Solo
and Small Firm Practice
More than 83 percent of New York attorneys are solo
practitioners, while another 14.7 percent work in
offices of fewer than 10 attorneys. Charged with
identifying ways that the court system can better support the
unique needs of these solo and small firm practitioners, a 30-member commission issued a report in February that makes
numerous recommendations to improve the practice of law
for the vast majority of the New York bar.
The Committee to Examine Solo and Small Firm Practice,
chaired by Rochester solo practitioner June Castellano, looked
at issues such as case-processing and calendaring, court rules,
technology and attorney professionalism, as well as the most
basic issues of law office economics.
Many of its recommendations focus on the solo practitioner's
most precious commodity - time.
The report recommends using staggered calendaring for
motions and pre-trial conferences where appropriate; promoting
the use of teleconferencing and videoconferencing; and
adopting uniform standards for filing by electronic means.
Another recommendation would allow attorneys to communicate
with courts by email for certain information. On a practical
level, the report suggests that every courthouse provide
space where attorneys can work, with computers and both
plug-in and wireless Internet service.
Many measures involve maximizing the use of the courts'
Web site and online documents, such as the ability to download
conference forms, returnable by fax or email; the creation
of an online database of common litigation and estate documents
that can be downloaded in English and Spanish; and
the posting of local rules and filing procedures as well as court
In addition, the commission endorsed the expansion of
summary jury trials and other initiatives that keep litigation
The commission also proposed that a task force be created
to look at the availability and affordability of malpractice
insurance, as well as a commission on attorney-advertising.
The report is available at: www.nycourts.gov/reports.
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