I am not a religious person, much less a religious scholar. But I absorb biblical quotes by cultural osmosis as we all do. Like the phrase above, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” from Mathew 5:5. Unfortunately for me, this phrase, like so many phrases in all many religious texts, has no actual meaning. I look at each word in the phrase and each seems confusing and ambiguous. Add on top of that the fact that the phrase has been through many languages between when it was first spoken, then written, then translated repeatedly for a few thousand years or so. (Some translate it, by the way, as “The Gentle shall inherit the earth…”) So even if it seemed clear to me, I would wonder whether it was actually ever spoken or whether, when it was, it meant what I think it means today.
My take on the phrase, for whatever it’s worth: don’t pick on the weak because they will some day be in a position to mess you up in a big way. And that, I suppose, is a pretty good rule to live by. It’s a variant of the golden rule, the way I read it. Applying that simple rule in our own lives, I suppose large firm lawyers should be nice to us solo lawyers. That’s how I choose to understand the phrase.
Guess what number of lawyers and what percent of lawyers in private practice in the United States are solos.
419,000 lawyers. That is 50% of lawyers in private practice. And that was in 2010. I am betting this number is growing but that’s a guess.
The possible increase in the numbers and percentage of solo lawyers came to mind when I saw a recent United States District Court decision in which the lawyers were identified as Adrianna Shannon, of Shannon Law and Troy Hutchinson of the law firm of Hutchinson, P.A. (even though Hutchinson’s law firm is, in fact, double the size of a solo firm).
A widely listened to prognosticator of legal market place world-wide, Richard Susskind, has for at least a decade offered the opinion that the days of the solo lawyer are numbered. On one hand, he predicts that the work of solo lawyers will be devoured on the one side by on-line resources where people can make their own wills, draft their own divorce papers, sell their own property, draft and enter into their own non-competition agreements (etc. etc.). On the other hand, multi-national law firms that will look more like chain-stores than expensive law firms for Fortune 1,000 companies than they do now. And these LawStores™ will crush the solo competition just as Walmarts and Home Depots have crushed the family pharmacy and the neighborhood-owned hardware store.
This may be so. And maybe not. Time will tell.
But, for now, my fearless, bold, and legion solo friends, fellow fighters, and worthy foes, I have this to say:
We many, we happy many, we band of brothers and sisters; for he and she to-day that sheds their blood with me shall be my brother and sister. Be he or she ne’er so vile, this day shall gentle his or her condition. And people in the United States now-a-bed shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, and hold their lives cheap, whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
(Well, St. Crispin’s Day is Sunday, October 25 this year. And I have a case now set for trial during a trial block starting on October 26. Close enough, I guess.)