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It seems like everyone is running to start a law firm. More than 1.3 million Americans are lawyers, and that number does not count paralegals or administrative assistants.
But the high number of lawyers masks the reality of creating a law firm. Plenty of firms get up and running, only to shutter a few years later. This is because many experienced lawyers do not know how to start a law firm.
What are the first steps a lawyer can take? What does a law firm business plan look like? How does marketing function?
Answer these questions and you can get started on your own firm. Here is your quick guide.
Many young lawyers assume they are set to start a law firm once they pass the bar. Passing the bar is an important step, but you need to do more than that to stand out.
Work inside of an established law firm. Spend time on pre-trial settlements, cases that go to trial, and post-trial appeals. Take opportunities to hone your skills.
Pick a specialty that you are interested in. You can choose a subset of law like criminal defense or personal injury. You can focus on a demographic group, like mothers or low-income individuals.
Then build a name for yourself within that specialty. Write and publish an article in a journal. Attend seminars and see if you can speak at one of them.
Talk to political activists and journalists who have beats related to your specialty. See if you can get experience in volunteer or community work. If you want to focus on mothers, volunteer at a woman’s clinic.
These activities will help you when you start a law firm on your own.
Make a Business Plan
Start a law firm is just like any other business. You need to map out your expenses and develop a budget, including for staffers and equipment you will need.
Start by writing an overview of your firm. You should include a mission statement that talks about your firm’s basic practices and values. Then you should define some goals that you plan on hitting, like growing your client base.
Include a market analysis. Break down the trends in business and law that will affect your firm.
After you give an overview of the marketplace, analyze potential clients. Talk about their needs and interests. Categorize them by their industry and other relevant characteristics.
You should then discuss important financials like costs and revenue projections. Within this section, you should break down operations and marketing expenses.
Take time with your business plan. Run it by an accountant and financial advisor to make sure you’ve touched on everything.
Create a Comfortable Office
Your office space can make or break your firm. Find a space that is large enough to accommodate a waiting area and multiple meeting rooms.
Supply the waiting area with comfortable chairs, accessible tables, and lighting. You do not have to be fancy. You want to create a space where a person can look through papers and prepare for a meeting.
In your private office, you should have chairs and materials to write with. You can have a computer, but keep it off to the side. You want to make eye contact with your clients so they feel like you are paying attention to them.
Give yourself shelving to store books and papers. Keep things labeled for easy access. Labels are also a way of showing clients that you are organized and professional.
The best IT services for law firms will come into your office. They will set up cybersecurity for you, like secure Internet servers and anti-virus technology. Set aside storage space for IT and computers.
Start a law firm marketing can be tricky. Your voice should be formal, yet you need to grab people’s attention and convey your services.
A great way to do both is to start your own blog. Create a website on which you describe your line of work and personal experience.
Then have a sub-section in which you include blog posts. Talk about important cases in your specialty. Break down key legal concepts that your readers need to understand.
You should also start your own social media pages. Share news articles and opinion pieces that relate to your specialty.
The name of your firm is a key marketing tool. Many people name their practices after themselves, which can come across as formal but imprecise. A creative name like “Liberty Law” can grab people’s attention, but it may seem tacky.
Write out a few different names. Your name should be honest. Do not use the word, “Group,” if you are the only proprietor.
Networking is important at all stages of your legal career. Before you start your business plan, you should talk to experienced lawyers. Get a sense of what you need to do for your firm to succeed.
After you get your firm running, continue to talk to all types of lawyers. You may be able to get a referral from them.
You should also talk to judges and court officials. Networking with judges helps you plan out legal arguments since you know their personalities and knowledge of the law. Court officials can schedule events at times that work for your clients.
If your specialty affects a particular community, you should network within that community. Pass out business cards at an event, including block parties and barbeques. Get the contact information of political leaders and activists.
How to Start a Law Firm
You can learn the basics of how to start a law firm. You need to get experienced in a particular specialty. This includes volunteering.
Then you must write a business plan. Include a statement that encapsulates your firm’s core values.
Break down all expenses, including furnishings to make your office more comfortable. Leave money and space for IT and computers.
Market your firm with a blog and website. Network with other lawyers, judges, and community leaders.
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