Different Strokes

I have talked to several different patent solos recently and it seems that each of us has our own reasons for going solo, our own work habits, and our own preferences for an optimum work situation.

I am the kind of person that thrives on large amounts of work. I seem to do my best work when overloaded. It forces me to concentrate and focus on the work at hand. When I am concentrating, I can really turn the crank. And these cases tend to be my best, even though they come at a rapid pace. I have a very hard time when the work is light. I tend to be less focused and have a hard time getting started. I also tend to get burned out after an intense period and need some recovery time.

Contrast that with an attorney I spoke with the other day. He seemed to like a much less hectic pace and preferred to do much more involved and complicated patent applications. He was not very interested in high volume work, but he wanted very challenging and difficult cases.

Another attorney had a real sweet spot: not too much, but not too little. When he had too much work, it became a real problem for him and he had a tendency to freeze when he felt overloaded. However, when work was very light, he had a hard time getting started. When he had just the right amount of work, he wrote the best cases.

All three of us have much different styles, much different workload demands, and produce better results in different situations. In order to get the best results from each of these types of workers, a client needs to engage each type of solo differently.

Knowing a person’s style means that some people can tolerate interruptions or rush assignments much better than others. The slow-and-steady person will not be your best choice, but the high volume grinder who thrives on pressure will be. Conversely, the slow-and-steady person will need to have a very balanced and consistent workload, while the other types of workers can tolerate more variation.

In addition, each attorney that I talked to had different reasons for writing patents for a living. One attorney was solo as a default: he was laid off and needed the work. Another attorney was at a larger firm and was able to make the transition to solo for the flexibility. Other solos I know are trying to make as much money as possible for a few years, pay off their houses or build a big nest egg, then pursue things that they really like.

I suppose that solo attorneys are like people in any other job: there is a large variety and they each have their own stories. As clients, business partners, vendors, or coworkers, we can engage them all differently and feed them the type of work that gives the best results.