Biography

About MyShingle.com

Authors
Policies

I. Our Goals

MyShingle.com, a website for and about solos and small law firms, was launched by independent law firm practitioner Carolyn Elefant in December 2002. Although resources and news for legal professionals abound on the web, no one comprehensive site caters to the demands and desires of solos and small law firms, the clients we serve and others in the legal profession who use our services or dream of going out on their own. Moreover, much of the information available on-line about solo and small firm practice is geared primarily towards starting, operating and marketing a traditional general practice law firm. Few resources exist for lawyers who start non-conventional small firm or boutique or corporate practices which directly compete with large firms; for small firm lawyers to exchange advice, seek guidance or find local counsel in other jurisdictions; for law students to learn about the possibilities of solo and small firm practice; or for small firm lawyers to broadcast our many accomplishments to others in the legal profession and the public at large. The goal of MyShingle.com is to address these unmet needs.

II. Our Offerings

One problem that we at MyShingle.com have discerned with on-line materials about solo practice is that some are prepared by marketers or so-called experts with no real law firm practice. While MyShingle.com welcomes submissions from anyone with an idea of relevance to solo or small law firm practice, our site content will always be prepared by edited and maintained by at least some lawyers with actual solo and small firm experience.

The initial offerings at our site include our On-Line Guide to Creating a Law Firm, news articles from different sources posted under our various categories of Topics, columns by from our own authors and our monthly feature survey. In the future, we hope to post press releases and announcements from our readers, interviews and run on-going sequels by lawyers on their own for the first time (sort of like Turow's One-L for lawyers starting a practice) or drafting and carrying out a business plan. (In fact, if you have any interest in writing a Sequel for our site, please contact us at elefant@myshingle.com with your proposal. At this time, we cannot pay for publication, but you would retain rights to all your writings and perhaps could convert them into a book for publication.)

III. Our Structure

In many ways, MyShingle.com shares the characteristics of small firm practice itself, with our innovative use of free and low cost resources for our design, our implementation of a cutting edge trend and our capacity to grow in who knows what direction. As the basis for our site, we have used the robust and just plain "neato" open source slashcode first implemented by and made famous at slashdot.com (many, many thanks!). In fact, as far as we are aware, MyShingle.com represents the first legal site with a non-tech/non-Internet law focus to utilize slashcode for our operation. For our logo, we bid the design competitively at elance.com where we drew close to one hundred bids at competitve prices and quick turn around. (We used Nancy Carter). And through compiling links, we've been able to give access to information already available on-line rather than re-creating it (although be assured, we will offer PLENTY of original material).

MyShingle.com also stands just behind the first generation of lawyers with blogs, or bLAWgs as they are currently called. (for a list of bLAWgs, visit the website/blog for Ernie the Attorney.) Although MyShingle.com differs from a traditional blog in that we offer the opportunity for dia-blog rather than mono-blog (think appellate versus jury argument!), like the blogs, we can offer on-going coverage and debate in almost real-time. And of course, at MyShingle.com, we will always have added value features like our On-Line Guide to Creating a Law Firm, in addition to ongoing discussion.

The concept of MyShingle.com is premised on meeting the still unfulfilled needs of solos and small firm lawyers and as described above, we already have several offerings available. But because of the interactive nature of slashcode, we can grow in a manner responsive to our audience's demand -- just like a solo or small firm has the flexibility to accomodate individual client needs. In short, just like the adventure of solo or small firm practice, who even knows now the places we'll go?

So, whether you've come to solo and small firm practice out of desire or desperation (or maybe a little of both), whether you dream of hanging a shingle or hanging up the one you've got or if you're interested in learning about the accomplishments and concerns of solos and small law firms or contemplating our place in the legal profession, welcome to MyShingle.com. As we say here, great things come in small [law] practices. Discover them here with us.
Back to top

AUTHORS


Carolyn Elefant (Brandeis University, B.A. 1985, magna cum laude with honors in politics; Cornell Law School, J.D. 1988).

In November 1993, I started my own small law firm because frankly, a big law firm wasn't big enough. Not big enough for my ego which balked at doing the grunt research without the glamour of arguing the cases or meeting with clients. Not even big enough to fit two little words -- my name -- on the top line of the briefs or on the nameplate on the door.

Back then, I was a lawyer ahead of schedule. By starting my own law firm, I made partner before I turned thirty and became a business owner long before the dotcom boom of the late '90s made entrepreneurship at once desireable and virtually mainstream. I was also one of the first law firms to recognize and harness the power of the Internet: my firm has had an email account since 1994 and with the upload of a law firm website (which I handcoded myself) in 1995, I joined the the first generation of law firms on-line. And I hope to continue to stay ahead of the curve with the creation of MyShingle.com, a site that's part interactive, part bLAWg, designed to serve the needs of solos and small firms.

Even as I embark on MyShingle.com, I can't part with my own shingle. My practice, the Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant (comprised of an eclectic mix of energy regulatory work, renewable project development and permitting, appellate practice and civil rights and commercial litigation) remains active. To learn more my firm, please visit our website, still at its original URL, http://www.his.com/israel/loce. On the personal side, I reside in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area with my husband, Bruce Israel (a computer systems architect who gets the credit for the concept and implementation of slashcode to build this website) and our two smart and spirited daughters Elana Joy and Mira Justine (the two of whom keep me on my toes with unanswerable questions more than any federal circuit judge ever has!)




Mark Sindler is a sole practitioner based in Pittsburgh. He formerly served as a prosecutor in the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, trying cases, overseeing drug investigations and teaching at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy. As a criminal-defense attorney, he has represented individuals in the federal and state trial courts of Pennsylvania and in the Northern District of West Virginia. He has successfully defended individuals accused of fraud, theft, firearms violations, drug trafficking, money laundering, robbery, sexual assault, DUI and traffic-related matters such as license suspensions. Mr. Sindler can be contacted at either (412) 471-6680 or exonerator@earthlink.net .
Back to top

POLICIES


Registration

• We urge you to register to the use the site archives. Registration allows you, the user to take advantage of many neat tools such as site customization and tracking your comments. Your registration information stays confidential with us. We will not sell or otherwise disclose email addresses or other registration information to any source (or use it ourselves for that matter). So relax, your secrets are safe with us!

Editorial Discretion

• We welcome all proposals for surveys, articles, story ideas and on-going sequels. If you have an idea, please submit it either through the "Comments" link at the main page or you can email it directly to elefant@myshingle.com.
We seek Quality, Original Work

• We judge submissions on merit as well as relevance to our audience. If submissions meet our standards, we will publish them, no matter how provocative or controversial. At the same time, we're trying to maintain a professional demeanor here. When you contribute to our site, please use language appropriate to submit in a court filing and not language which would lead a court to submit you to contempt charges. Get the idea?

You write it, it's Yours

• In contrast to many websites and listservs run by other groups or associations (even bar associations, believe it or not!), by posting to our site, you grant MyShingle.com only a non-exclusive right to post your work at our site. We will not reprint, resell or retain any material posted by any individuals at our site to anyone else. All authors and contributors to MyShingle.com retain the ability to compile, resell and republish work submitted to MyShingle.com and indeed, we encourage you to do so. We may not be able to pay for your contribution -- so there's no reason why you shouldn't have the right to find someone else who will pay for it? And we're certainly not going to profit off someone who contributed to our site without compensation.

Linking Wants to Be Free

• Lincoln (a small firm lawyer) freed the slaves and today, Linkin' wants to be free! At MyShingle.com we don't require permission to link to our website and concomminantly, we do not seek permission to link to other sites. In our view, information at websites are the same as articles in hard copy publications, but who ever consulted a work's author for permission to cite it in a footnote? At the same time, we maintain rigorous standards for citing to material at a website. Any citations at our website must include (to the extent available) the article title, author, date of publication and website where published or else cite to the entire URL.

We Strive for Accuracy and Directness

• When we include links at our site, we strive for accurcy and directness. We've all been in the situation where we click on a URL with great anticipation only to be lead on a wild goose chase down three levels to find the information advertised in the link or worse, to find a dead link. We will do our best to avoid this result. We try to, where possible link directly to the cited article itself (or describe how to get to the article) rather than to an upper level page and of course, to perform quality control on our links to maintain their accuracy. Unfortunately, due to the nature of our site, which is rich with links and also includes links to current newspaper stories (many of which are only archived for a short duration), one hundred percent accuracy may elude us, at least in the beginning. As our site builds, we will add staff and try to come up with procedures to keep abreast of these matters. For the time, we rely on you, our readers, to please report all dead or indirect links to us at elefant@myshingle.com.

We Stand by our Word

• If you're looking for the ubiquitous hundred line legal disclaimer, you won't find it here at MyShingle.com. We don't do disclaimers. First, we stand by what we say and publish at MyShingle.com -- and a disclaimer vitiates that committment. Second, most of us here are lawyers, so let's be real: do you really believe for a minute that a disclaimer is going to insulate you from liability anyway? Various bar associations have concluded otherwise, at least with respect to whether a disclaimer can effectively prevent formation of an attorney-client relationship at a website. See DC Bar Opinion 316, Lawyer Participation in Chat Rooms, nt. 11-12.
Back to top