It’s every lawyer’s dream to run their own practices. Here’s how to start your own law firm soon after securing your license to practice.
Are you looking to join the over 1.34 million lawyers practicing in the United States?
Even though the legal profession has lost some of its glamor (don’t believe what you see on television), it’s still one of the best careers any ambitious person can pursue. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to make a positive impact on America’s justice system.
And once you’ve obtained your license, you’ve got two options: find employment in an already established law firm or start your own firm.
Which would you prefer?
In this article, we’re telling you how to start your own law firm.
The Benefits of Running Your Own Practice
Before we dig into the basics of starting a law firm, it’s important to highlight why it’s beneficial to go against the grain and start the firm straight after law school.
Be Your Own Boss
This is every American worker’s dream.
Opening your own firm at the start of your legal career enables you to practice on your terms. You’ll have the ability to set your pace and significantly increase your earnings.
If you’re passionate about the economy, starting a firm creates employment opportunities. At some point, you’ll need to hire legal associates, an accountant, office manager, and other workers.
Avoid the Politics of Established Law Firms
Almost every established law firm has some type of office politics going on. Maybe the partners are wrangling over clients or how to best steer the firm.
While office politics isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the firm, it can derail your career. Instead of focusing on your clients and cases, you’ll find yourself taking some time to catch up on the latest office drama.
Steps to Starting a Law Firm
Now, let’s get to the real work.
Identify an Area of Practice
You probably had an area of legal specialty in mind once you set out to be a lawyer. However, when it comes to real-world practice, you’ve to be realistic about your choices.
For instance, if all you ever wanted was to become a constitutional lawyer, you must establish whether constitutional law is a marketable field. If you choose an area of practice that isn’t attracting lots of business, you might not make enough money to sustain the firm.
As such, do extensive market research and identify the areas of law that are thriving. Narrow down to one specialty.
Find a Suitable Location
Along with choosing a commercially-viable area of practice, getting the location right will go a long way in driving the success of your firm.
So, what should you consider when hunting for a location?
Start by evaluating your area of practice. If you’ve chosen to be a small business attorney, pick a location that has lots of thriving small businesses. This means you might want to avoid the big cities.
Next, look at the competition.
If you open your law firm in a location with a high concentration of law firms specializing in your area of practice, you’ll have to contend with increased competition for customers. To gain an edge, you’ll spend a lot more money on branding and marketing.
Secure the Capital
Starting a law firm, however small, needs money. You have to rent or lease an office, secure business permits, buy office furniture and equipment, and run advertising campaigns.
And now that you’re starting it on your own, you’ll have to dig into your pockets for startup capital. But if you can’t raise adequate on your own, there are other options.
You could secure a personal loan, run a crowdfunding campaign, or reach out to friends and family.
Write a Business Plan
Like any other practice, a law firm is a business. At the end of the day, it’s all about profit; otherwise, you’ll have to close shop.
Every business needs a business plan, which is why you need to prepare this document.
A business plan maps out the most fundamental details about your firm. These include:
- Name of the firm
- Location of the firm (physical address)
- Your mission and vision
- Areas of practice
- Cash flow projections
- Marketing or attorney advertising strategy.
A detailed business plan not only serves as your firm’s blueprint to success, but can also come in handy when you’re looking for external funding. If you’re keen on securing a bank loan, for example, the lender will likely ask you to provide the business plan.
Build a Website for Your Law Firm
The vast majority of Americans now have access to the internet, and they’re using it to shop for goods and services.
If you want them to find your law firm, build a website. And not only any website. It has to be a professional, responsive site.
Building your firm’s website shouldn’t be a DIY project – especially not if you lack web development expertise. Outsource the task to a design and development agency. These pros can also help you to create a logo and other branding essentials.
While at it, don’t forget social media. Research shows 54 percent of Americans are more likely to hire a lawyer who’s active on social media.
Join Professional Associations
When a client is hiring a law firm, they first look at the lawyers behind it.
If you’ve got a bad professional reputation, not many people will want to do business with your firm, regardless of how you market it.
This is why you need to keep improving your personal professional development even as you continue establishing the firm.
An ideal way to achieve professional growth is to join legal associations, both national and local. You’ll grow your network and enhance your chances of obtaining referrals.
That’s How to Start Your Own Law Firm!
Starting a law firm, especially right after admission to the bar, is hard work. You have no experience as a lawyer and perhaps no startup capital.
However, let nobody tell you it’s not doable. Thousands of lawyers have done it. And with this how to start your own law firm guide, you now know what it takes to start on a solid footing.
Keep tabs on our blog for more business tips and insights.