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Law school partners with PBA on “Starting Your Own Firm” class

Beginning this year, Widener Law Commonwealth will partner with the Solo and Small Firm Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association on a “Starting Your Own Firm” class.

PBA lawyers will give additional lectures in the class, share their unique experiences, and provide first-hand expertise about running a solo or small practice. The class covers topics that include what to look for in office space, deciding on a specialized area of law, how to use practice management software, and managing cash flow in a solo practice.

While the class focuses on how to run a solo or small firm practice, Dean Christian Johnson feels the lectures are beneficial to all students regardless of the size of the firm where they will work.

“The class provides an overview of how to run a solo legal practice, but there are many topics that are relatable to those who work in large firms, such as knowing how to market to an audience, business development, and bookkeeping,” Johnson said. “This class addresses all of the aspects of not only running a solo practice, but it gives the next generation of legal professionals knowledge of what goes into being in the business of law.”

Sara Austin, chair of the PBA Solo and Small Firm Section and an adjunct professor at the law school, worked with Dean Johnson to develop the additional sessions for the course.

“It’s a great benefit to be able to learn from those who are doing what it takes, from soup to nuts,” Austin said. “Learn from our mistakes and our successes. Learn alternatives. Learn how to make it work, how to do what you enjoy while making a living at it. Learn about the benefits of PBA and Section membership and how both are crucial to a solo or small firm practice.”

Robert Moran ’17 took the course while he was a student at Widener Law Commonwealth. Moran practices law with his father and brother in a family firm.

“From cost-effective marketing and advertising to finances and bookkeeping, the class offered real-world practical advice to students,” Moran said. “Legal professionals from a wide breadth of disciplines spoke to and interacted with our class, offering unique first-person accounting of the operations, successes, and pitfalls of running/owning small or solo practices.”

“Giving our students this kind of access to lawyers with the Pennsylvania Bar Association, where they hear these very practical words of wisdom, is a tremendous benefit,” Johnson added. “Widener Law Commonwealth is able to harness our strong relationship with the legal community in a way that it helps prepare our students for career success.”