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.
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.
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.