We work with a lot of young attorneys within larger law firms. It’s only natural to think that some of these attorneys will eventually go off on their own to start new firms, often this is how it’s done. We found this great article @ jdblogger.com that explains 10 tips for starting a firm from the point of view of an attorney. We have done this before, but it was always from a technology point of view. Interestingly enough, we adopted all these principals by accident when we started Rekall Technologies. Hopefully this article will bring some new insight, enjoy.
Original article can be read @ jdblogger.com
On two different occasions I started my own law firm. The first time after I had been out of law school a total of 18 months. The second time a little over two years ago. In today’s blog post I wanted to go over 10 things that I have learned about starting your own solo law firm practice:
1. Plan Before Launch – But Don’t Delay
For sure it is necessary to put in quite a bit of preparation prior to making the leap and starting your own practice. But I have found that some lawyers get caught up in the preparation stage so long that they never launch. Get what you need to start your practice: a website, (IT company) a computer, a printer, a scanner, and practice management software, and get going.
2. If You Have the Funds, Get a Quality Website
The first time I started a law practice it was 2005 and having a great website wasn’t that important. But then again, soon after starting my practice in 2005 I went out and got a yellow pages ad – something I would never do now. No matter your practice area, your clients are going to want to learn more about you, your law practice, and what you can do for them by visiting your website. Your online presence is today’s storefront. If you throw up a cheapo website it reflects poorly on your law practice. If possible, get a mobile responsive website that is easy to read and use on mobile phones and tablets. You won’t regret investing your website. For all of my websites I have used Rowboat Media.
3. Keep Monthly Overhead Low
When I first started a law firm I was coming from a mid-sized firm of about 25 lawyers and about 30 staff members. When it came to law firms, this was all I knew. So when I created my own solo practice, I tried to copy what I had seen – a much larger law firm. This was a mistake. Bigger firms are not even in the same universe as solo practices. The biggest difference is money. The bigger law firm has much more of it. When starting your own practice it can be tempting to want to create a smaller version of the larger law firm you just left. Avoid this at all costs. The first time around I brought on a lot of staff and upgraded on two different occasions to a larger office. All this did was stress me out and require that I work night and day just to meet payroll.
Initially, keep things simple. Limit expensive costs like office space and staff. When I started my solo law practice the second time I operated out of a home office with three “virtual” offices where I could meet clients. This reduced my monthly overhead tremendously. Next, I didn’t hire any staff. I know in some practice areas this is simply not possible. But I started out with a virtual receptionist at Call Ruby and handled the administrative stuff on my own. It meant a lot more work for me, but it was nice not having to cut a big check for payroll and rent.
Eventually I moved up to a contract paralegal who helped with specific jobs, and then I moved to a full time staff person. I also moved into a permanent office two years after starting my practice. Growing slowly the second time around has made a world of difference and kept the growth of the practice slow but steady.
4. Keep Your Marketing In-House
Of course I am going to say this. The entire purpose of the JDBlogger blog/podcast is to teach attorneys that you can market your practice through blogging, podcasting, and social media and not pay thousands of dollars per month to SEO consultants.
If you aren’t familiar with content marketing such as blogging then follow this blog and take the time to learn what it takes to create a quality blog for your law practice. If you are consistent, I know you will find out what I did, that you can bring in all the work that you can handle simply by being helpful and writing articles that answer the questions you get day in and day out.
5. Don’t Do Print Advertising
Print advertising like yellow pages, billboards, and newspapers/magazines are super expensive and I haven’t seen them to be particularly effective unless you have the cash flow to do this on a huge scale. If you have the budget to put of dozens or billboards all over town it may get a return that makes this worth your time and money. On the other hand, if you are thinking of throwing up a single bilboard along the freeway, you will likely find the only result is that you are a few thousand dollars lighter than you would otherwise have been.