Setting Up a Practice

Running a Law Firm 101

If you want to set up your own law practice and take on society changing cases you still need to understand the business side of running a law firm.  Starting your own firm is no easy task but here are some basics to get you started.  Think of it as running a law firm 101.

Get Some Confidence

Don’t get overwhelmed by all the books and advice telling you how to open a law firm it will leave you filled with doubt.  Research is good, overthinking is not.  It’s hard not to give yourself an ulcer thinking about where the next paying client is going to come from.  Take care of the clients you do have and concentrate on the marketing you need to do.

Find a Mentor

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, instead learn from the mistakes of others.  Try and find a mentor who can help you with the day to day issues that you are going to face.  Take another solo practitioner to lunch and pick their brain.  Here’s a video to help you with the process of finding a mentor.  For example, if you’re looking to get into tort law, then click here for a practice that may be able to provide law firm mentor-ship.

Do Your Research

There a thousand tiny little details you will need to take care before you get established.  “How to Start & Build a Law Practice” by Jay Foonberg is an excellent place to get started.  Your local state bar can also help you they print the book “Opening a Law Office” that will teach you about things like conflict of interest, insurance and the rest of the details.

Avoid Overhead

Build income before you start building expenses.  That corner suite in a prestigious downtown high rise might be where you want to be but you aren’t anywhere near that yet.  Make do with some cooperative offices space to cut down on expenses but still have access to meeting rooms, receptionists and photocopiers while you focus on building your client base and your income.

Work Smarter

While you may have a ton of paperwork that needs to be filed and documents that need to go to the courthouse the most valuable activity you have are your billable hours.  The minute you can afford to get some to take on some of your workload even if they only work one day a week in the beginning then you need to hire them.  Get a student, an intern, your favorite niece or whatever it takes to get that burden off your hands.  Your time should be about marketing and billing and that is it.

Ask any solo practitioner of even a law firm made up of partners, they ALL struggled in the beginning.  The  television shows where they setup practice and have million dollar clients beating down their door are pure fiction.  Any successful law practice earned it.

Setting Up a Practice

Setting Up a Law Firm

Starting a law firm can be expensive but with the right planning, you can make it work. If you are thinking about starting a law firm, you have considered what marketing techniques you plan on utilizing. From there, you should also have realized that marketing yourself online is imperative to the success of any business, especially if you are starting a small law firm. If you don’t know where to start on your internet marketing, here are three tools that are the cornerstone of any online campaign.

1) Create a website

The first weapon in your internet arsenal is the website. There really is not excuse not to have a website, especially with all the options out there in terms of cost, content, and simplicity. In other words, if you are an attorney starting a law firm, whether a Maryland criminal defense firm or a Virginia family law firm, you must have a website. It is the one place where people can always turn for information on you and your firm.

2) Establish a blog

You should also have a blog to provide fresh content for your website.  Your blog is an integral part of your website and helps establish you as an authority on the web, it is also an incredibly valuable marketing tool.  In your blog, be sure to include things that are relevant to your law practice. For example, if you are a DC DUI lawyer, then create a blog post about traffic stops, another one about field sobriety tests, and the list goes on. If you also practice Maryland divorce law, start two blogs.

3) Start a marketing campaign

A good website with no marketing is like a Porsche with no engine, it may look pretty but it won’t go anywhere without a push.  There are different ways to kick off your marketing campaign, but digital marketing will provide the best return on your marketing dollars.  Work with a digital marketing agency to get your website ranking, manage your reputation carefully, create the proper social profiles and kick start the whole thing with a PPC campaign.  Digital marketing agencies can be exceptionally good at making your phone ring, giving you the time to worry about your clients.  You will also want to look into doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your Law Firm.  SEO is riskier, but when it works, it is far more profitable.

You need to do a lot more than these three things to establish your practice.  There will still be the daily grind of setting up the office and hiring staff to work with you and take care of the details while you work on bringing in new clients.  Clients are what pay the bills and you need to be able to focus on them and not on the minutae of running an office.