In law school, there are a lot of pressures. Be in the top ten percent of your class 1L year, make moot court, grade on to law journal. Don’t forget to make editor of law journal your 3L year.
All of this for the ultimate goal: get offered a BigLaw job and make a huge starting salary. But when you land that BigLaw job you find that it’s not all everyone made it out to be — that paycheck means you have to sacrifice all your free time. Maybe it’s time to hang your own shingle.
But how do you get started? If you need some entrepreneurship tips to help get your law firm off the ground, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn everything you need to know!
1. Pick Your Partners
The first thing you need to do when starting your own law firm is to decide with whom you would like to start it.
Do you want to start it with some law school classmates who share a similar distaste for working for a big law firm? Or do you want to venture out on your own and hang your own shingle?
No matter who you choose to join you, the next step you’ll have to take is what you’d like to name the firm. Choose whether you want it to be based around your name(s) or your area of practice. Either way, pick something catchy!
2. Choose a Structure
Are you going for a partnership or corporation?
If you’re going the corporation route, be sure to draw up your articles of incorporation and get them filed with the Secretary of State before you do any work for clients. Of course part of that is deciding who contribute how much capital to the firm, and what your bylaws will be.
3. Pick a Location
Location plays a critical role in your firm’s success. An office in your town’s downtown area gets you far more facetime with potential clients than a location on the outskirts of town.
Location is also important in terms of client accessibility. The downside to a downtown location is that it is frequently congested and parking is more expensive. This could have an adverse effect on lower income clients’ ability to get to your office. The same is true for offices a long distance away from your target clients.
Look for a location that balances accessibility with visibility.
4. Start a Website
Your website could mean the difference between getting a client and losing a client. You want to make sure your website has a clean, modern design and looks professional.
What do you add? Include information about what you do on the front page, and then create separate pages for attorney profiles and relevant laws. Make sure that all pages within the website have a clear link to a contact form.
Not sure where to start? Trying looking at other successful law firms’ websites to see what they’re doing. For example, Farris Riley & Pitt packed their website with helpful information without it looking too cluttered.
5. Gather Your Office Supplies
No office functions without the necessary office supplies. First, make sure you have enough desks and computers for each staff member. Then you’ll want to purchase printers that are capable of printing all the necessary briefs, complaints, and filings that you anticipate creating.
Next, you’ll want to invest in a good security program to protect sensitive client information. You’ll also want to choose a client management software in order to track all the hours you spend on client work.
6. Set Up a Library
No law firm is complete without its own law library. It may be a significant investment, but having 24/7 access to all the relevant laws and treatises gives you peace of mind and helps you be a better attorney.
You’ll also want to consider whether you want to purchase access to WestLaw, Lexis Advance, or Bloomberg Law. All have their benefits (and costs), but pick the one that gives you the most access to everything you need in your firm.
If you want to save money on case law access, try utilizing your local law library’s public access computers for all your legal research needs.
7. Hire Support Staff
It’d be great if you could run a law firm all on your own. But in reality, you’ll need support staff like a receptionist, paralegal, and legal secretary. It couldn’t hurt to have a notary in the office, too.
Do a survey of comparable positions in the area to determine how much you should pay each position, then start the applicant search. Look for people with experience so you don’t have to worry about teaching them while building your firm.
Not ready to commit to a single person? You can always enlist the services of a temp firm.
8. Start Marketing Your Firm
Yes, even lawyers need a marketing plan. The best way to bring in clients is to advertise your services around town. You can do this through billboards, fliers, radio spots, and television ads.
Want to take it to the next level? Try content marketing.
With content marketing, you’ll create relevant blog posts about your area of expertise and pepper in keywords that’ll bring more internet traffic to those posts. Include links to your main page and your contact page, and watch your client base grow.
Need More Entrepreneurship Tips?
Starting your own law firm is a great first step toward independence from the golden handcuffs. No more billable hours requirement and you don’t have to worry about the partners breathing down your neck to bring in more clients. With just a little work, you’ll be well on your way to legal success!