You’ve got the motivation, entrepreneurial spirit, and sharp legal skills to open your own law practice, but how do you ensure it’s successful?
In this post, we break down five things you can do early to prepare yourself for opening and operating your own law practice.
Here are 5 things to do before opening a law practice
📑 Build a solid business plan
Starting a law firm is just like opening a business. Begin by honestly assessing what business skills you can bring to the table yourself, and what you may need to outsource.
For the business side, you’ll need a marketing plan, financial resources, and general business know-how. The Institute of Continuing Legal Education has a useful self-assessment tool to gauge these skills.
Forbes recommends working with a business lawyer and an accountant to determine how you’ll structure your firm’s business. Your practice may be a sole proprietorship, general partnership, professional service corporation, or a professional limited liability company. This step will help build out your business plan and determine how you’ll file taxes.
Try to be as specific as possible when creating a business plan. Choose an area of law to focus on, identify your main competitors, and project where you want your firm to be in five years.
💲 Set a clear and realistic budget
Opening a law practice isn’t free, and lawyers who neglect their budgets will quickly run into financial hurdles that could have been avoided.
Start the budgeting process by tallying up all of the expenses you know you’ll have – rent, salaries, malpractice insurance, equipment, and monthly dues.
Then, determine how much work you’ll need to do to cover those costs and have money left over for unexpected costs and funding for future growth opportunities.
A flat fee structure will be easier to budget for and make your revenue more predictable, but it may not be right for every law firm.
📌 Understand your state’s requirements for new law firms
Get squared away with your state’s start-up, insurance, and tax requirements for new businesses.
Don’t let quarterly and annual reports catch you by surprise, and don’t forget to reconcile your financial records.
📱 Commit to building your online presence
Brick and mortar law offices aren’t as important as they used to be; your clients will most likely be using the internet to research your firm.
Invest enough time and resources into a professional website and social media profiles where you are most likely to connect with clients, but don’t feel like you need to be present on every area of the web.
Focus on the best platforms to connect with your target audience.
For example, personal injury lawyers may find more clients on Facebook while an employment attorney could make meaningful connections on LinkedIn.
🤝 Find a mentor
Whether you’re fresh out of law school or a seasoned lawyer, a mentor who can offer advice throughout the process will be valuable.
Ideally, your mentor will be someone who has already opened a law practice in the area of law you want to specialize in. You’ll also want to network with other lawyers in your geographical area to get a feel for the local community and your firm’s closest competition.