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Did you know there is more to practicelaw than just forms?  practicelaw is designed to be a repository of resources intended to help your practice.  Similarly, the MSBA’s practiceblawg is a blog for the Association to share with you how the MSBA can help you improve your efficiency and grow your practice.  The MSBA offers members a number of products and services and is always looking for ways to better serve its members and provide greater value.

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On a roll and it's time to go solo

by Joe Kaczrowski | Aug 31, 2015

Many lawyers in Minnesota end up with solo or small firm practices, either by choice or by circumstance. While some may be excited by the opportunity to hang one's shingle and go it alone, others can be overwhelmed at the prospect. The MSBA offers many tools and resources to help solo and small firm attorneys and provides the sort of supportive and collaborative environment found in larger firms.

One often mentioned downside of the state's new e-filing system is that it eliminates the chance to chat with fellow attorneys at the courthouse, potentially leading to an even greater sense of isolation among solo and small firm attorneys. Getting involved with the Bar Association can help counter the isolation many solo practitioners experience.

The MSBA is a couple years in to its Focus 2016 initiative, which is intended to help the Association remain relevant to solo and small firm practitioners and maximize the value of MSBA membership. In the last year, the Association has entered into a number of new partnerships and added several new products and services, including Headshot Day events and the new Directories.

This past year, the Association also started a Cohort program, through which members address a specific business challenge in a collaborative environment. Built on the premise that a successful attorney needs to be both an expert in the law and a small business expert, the cohort program helps attorneys with the business of the practice of law by working collaboratively to get them from point A to point B and accomplish a specific business task. Participants learn from experts and fellow attorneys, and apply that learning to reach a desired outcome.

Among the Bar's thirty-seven Sections is the Solo and Small Firm Section. Through sections, MSBA members can connect with peers and discuss issues and challenges faced with the practice of law today. The MSBA also has an Outstate Practice Section and a Practice Management and Marketing Section, along with dozens of sections focused on specific substantive areas of law.

Additionally, one of the more active of the Association's dozens of listservs is the solosmall listserv, which is open to any MSBA member interested in small firm or solo practice. Discussions on the listserv cover a wide variety of topics, including (but not limited to) the expected substantive and procedural questions, as well as referrals and advice on technology. 

While available to any MSBA member, the Association offers a number of tools and resources of great benefit to solo and small firm attorneys. For example, the MSBA's practicelaw is a free repository of resources including over one thousand forms and templates. MSBA membership also includes free access to Fastcase, an internet legal research system. Members can also subscribe to the MSBA's Court Opinions service and receive Minnesota state and federal court opinions by email each day. A complete list of the Online Tools and Resources available to members is available on the Association's website.

MSBA membership also includes discounts on a number of products and services through the MSBAdvantage program, including new partners Clio and Citrix ShareFile. The Association has also developed an automated document assembly system called mndocs, through which members can access hundreds of automated templates and create complete documents in minutes instead of hours.

Running a solo practice can be a challenge. In addition to several tools and resources designed to help members with the practice of law, MSBA membership can offer the same sort of collaborative support system often found in larger organizations.