Starting a small or solo firm has its perks — you get to practice law while also being the CEO. This means you can choose your clients, create your own business model, and potentially make more money. However, there are some matters you should consider before you take that plunge.
1. Is starting a law firm right for you?
Begin by asking yourself four critical questions:
- Am I ready to run a business?
- Do I have the resources to handle the firm’s business or do I need to hire help?
- Who is my competition, and what can I offer that they can’t?
- Do I consider my time working on the business as important as my billable work?
If your answer is yes to these four questions, you’re probably on the right track.
2. What type of law do you want to practice?
You have the opportunity to decide whether your firm will be general practice or more niche. For some attorneys, offering a wide variety of legal services is preferred. This can depend on your business model or the needs of the community where you will practice. For others, focusing on one of two practice areas may be ideal.
This decision is yours to make. It will allow you to confidently move forward to the next stage of planning.
3. How do you intend to attract clients?
Getting clients through your door can be a challenge. Attracting clients is both an art and science
Today, technology is your best bet. An integrated digital marketing strategy that utilizes an SEO-optimized website and social media can give you a competitive edge over more established competitors.
Additionally, networking is key to building a pre-launch clientele base. Attending local business and networking events can help build a potential referral network.
4. What is your plan, and who is on your team?
Having a J.D. often isn’t enough to run a law firm. You will need some entrepreneurial know-how as well. Like with any other business, your law firm needs to have a business plan, a budget, and an execution strategy.
Experience in business and project management is ideal whenever possible. That could be gained from previous work experience or coursework.
If you plan to hire others, ensuring you hire the right people at the start is critical to the success of your firm. Take the time to set up a hiring process at the outset to ensure this aspect of your legal business goes as smoothly as possible, now and in the future.
5. How much investment do you need?
Determining the amount of financial investment you need is dependent on several things. For example:
- How much money do you have at hand?
- Are you starting a new practice or buying an existing one?
- How much do you need to cover cash flow as per your business plan?
Another important question to answer is whether you will have a physical office location, 100% remote, or a combination of the two.
With the help of technology, lawyers can practice from anywhere at any time. You can also start off with a serviced office which gives you more flexibility than signing an office lease.
Another option is to take the unique route of buying a practice. Many firms are owned by baby boomers without exit strategy or succession plans. This option comes with the added advantage of an established clientele, although the initial financial investment may be more.
Get help from the experts
Starting a law firm is complex, but FindLaw offers many resources and services that can help your firm every step of the way.
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