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Solo Practitioners and Small Law Firms Dominate

The American Bar Association has conducted surveys on lawyer demographics since 1980. In 2015, solo law practitioners made up the majority (49%) of private practitioners and a majority (76%) of law firms have two to five lawyers. Solo law practitioners have continuously dominated the percentage of private practitioners since the 1980s and will continue to do so.

So why Is "small law" really "big law"? - a change in the legal market because of the 2007 financial crisis resulted in an increase in solo law practitioners. The 2007 financial crisis reduced employment opportunities in many legal sectors. Attorneys were hanging their shingles in droves. Private law firms hired fewer attorneys. The result: increased competition for all areas of the legal filed ( including paralegals legal secretaries) yet solo practitioners honed their skill base and focused on client retention and run their law practice. After all, practicing law is a business. Research about the legal industry has been sparse. When there is research available, it usually focuses on Big Law attorneys. Studies on attorneys' research practices usually target attorneys in larger firms.

Solo and small law firm lawyers are largely underrepresented in these studies. This is problematic because solo and small law firm attorneys make up the majority of law practitioners.

Even with the ups and downs of the economy, solo and small law firms succeed in dominating legal services. Because of this, future legal studies should prioritize research on solo and small law practitioners. After all, small law dominates. At, we believe in "small law".