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Anne M. Crawley (CUNY Law ’97) has taken on a child custody case for a client of modest means and needs to prepare a motion to move up her court case. It’s nighttime, but she could use some feedback from a peer ahead of the hearing, to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

“You have to articulate what you want to a judge with 40 cases that day who will say: ‘Counselor—what are you looking for?’” Crawley says.

In a law firm, she might wander down the hall to talk to a partner. But Crawley has no colleague to physically turn to. She’s surrounded instead by towers of legal files at the solo family and matrimonial law practice she’s run from her home in Sunnyside, Queens, for the past four years.

Still, she’s not alone. One email later, a network of practicing lawyers knows she needs help, and, within the hour, her BlackBerry buzzes with discourse and advice on what to do.