Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 20

FEATURE
LTHE SOLO/SMALL FIRM LIFE
ean, Mean Business Machine
By John Murph
B
ack in 1994, Lita Rosario-Richardson co-founded
a small boutique label that counted among its
clientele then-upcoming R&B stars Dru Hill,
Sisqó, and Mya. " As things often do with small
businesses, things got a little crunchy for lack of a
better word, " Rosario-Richardson says of the label's
demise. " Folks started suing each other. That is when
I put out my own shingle to do entertainment law. "
Fast forward two decades and Rosario-Richardson has represented some
of R&B and hip-hop's hottest acts, including Missy Elliott, George Clinton,
and Pete Rock.
Success didn't happen overnight. When she launched WYZ Girl Entertainment
Consulting in 1998, Rosario-Richardson says she had considerable
expertise in securities offerings agreements from working four years
as an associate at Shearman & Sterling LLP and two years as senior legal
counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but none of
the nuts-and-bolts knowledge of running a law practice. There were no
business fundamentals from law school she could brush up on, either.
" I had no idea, really, how to start my own firm, " Rosario-Richardson says.
" So, I went to some of my Howard University alumni friends who had
started their own practices for advice. "
Law schools, in general, do not equip future attorneys with the tools
they need to strike out on their own - and make it. As Judith Areen,
executive director and CEO of the Association of American Law Schools,
points out, national law schools that tend to send the majority of their
students to mid-size or large law firms are less likely to offer courses on
the business side of law than more regional law schools, where the graduates
often stay in the immediate area and go solo or start a small
practice.
" The number of graduates that end up solo practicing right after law
school is less than one percent, " Areen says, citing figures from the
National Association for Law Placement. This does not take into account
small firms, but given the small proportion of graduates initially going
solo, law schools don't find it worthwhile to offer courses on how to run
a firm. " It's not something that academic faculty are typically as knowledgeable
about as, say, contract law, " she says.
Relying solely on on-the-job training not only can be exhausting and
costly, but it also exposes attorneys to potential ethical minefields. Here,
several D.C. Bar members who've taken the solo path share their learning
curves and tips for success.
LITA ROSARIO-RICHARDSON
WYZ Girl Entertainment Consulting
20 WASHINGTON LAWYER * JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2022
FIRST, STATE YOUR FEES
In the early days of her entertainment law practice, Rosario-Richardson
leaned heavily on seasoned attorneys for advice on matters such as how
to create retainers, attract more clients, and manage her time.
" Even if it's a contingency matter, I have to focus on my time. I cannot
take on clients who are going to eat up all my time and not pay me.
I have to focus on clients who will actually be able to pay for the
provided services . . . so that I have more time to see other clients to
bring in work. Time management with clients is a really big issue, "
Rosario-Richardson says.
Jati Lindsay Photography

Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022

From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Protecting the Integrity of the Profession: A Conversation on Legal Ethics
How Far Should You Go? Frivolous Claims & Litigation Ethics
The Solo/Small Firm Life: Lean, Mean Business Machine
Upping Your Game With Professional Coaching
The Founding of the D.C. Bar
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
ABA Delegate’s Corner
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Intro
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - A
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - B
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 4
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 5
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Protecting the Integrity of the Profession: A Conversation on Legal Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 12
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 14
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - How Far Should You Go? Frivolous Claims & Litigation Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Solo/Small Firm Life: Lean, Mean Business Machine
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Upping Your Game With Professional Coaching
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 26
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Founding of the D.C. Bar
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 32
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - ABA Delegate’s Corner
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2022 - Cover4
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