Many law school students dream of starting their own firm someday. This is a great way to establish a long and fruitful career in the legal industry.
However, owning a law firm requires business acumen on top of legal expertise. This means putting a well-designed strategy into action and sticking with it.
Jumping into the deep end is a good way to take a major financial hit. If you plan on starting a law firm office, you need to take things one step at a time.
Keep reading for seven things to consider when getting started
1. Planning is Everything
Creating an extensive business plan is crucial. You’ll need to set goals for the first five years of operation.
Have some money set aside when starting out. There’s a chance you won’t see much of a profit for up to six months.
Part of developing a business plan involves forming a business entity. The type of entity you form depends on whether you’re solo or working with partners.
It’s important to define your target clients and outline a marketing strategy. This should include things like digital marketing tactics and using resources like 4LegalLeads to generate business.
Make sure your business plan is thorough and well-written. If you need to take out a business loan to get started, the bank will want to have a look at it.
2. The Perfect Name
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the name of your law firm doesn’t matter. Like retail businesses, your name has a huge impact on the way people perceive you.
The traditional approach to naming a law firm is to use the last name of the attorney or partners. Doing this isn’t wrong today, but you need to think about it.
Your name should flow well. If you’re using each partners’ last name, play with the order until you find one that sounds good.
Many modern firms have names relating to their area of practice. It’s also common to see firms that called themselves a “law group.”
Whatever you decide on, make sure it sounds authoritative and catchy. Run it by some friends, family members, and colleagues and see what kind of response it gets.
3. Location Makes a Difference
It’s true that the location of a law office isn’t as important as a brick and mortar shop. However, it’s still something you need to consider.
Most attorneys need their clients to come in for consultations and meetings. You want to provide a comfortable setting they don’t have to drive too far to get to.
It’s also important to consider the courts you’ll frequently work in. Find a location that’s relatively close.
Finally, think about your goals over the next five years. If you plan on bringing on more attorneys and staff, you need a space that can accommodate that kind of growth. Try to strike a good balance between what you need and what you can afford as a startup firm.
4. The Right Equipment and Resources
It’s essential to equip your firm with the tools it needs to succeed. Make a checklist to ensure you don’t leave anything out.
Start with office equipment such as computers, printers, a server, and basic supplies. You need the equipment that will allow you to work quickly and efficiently.
You’ll also need financial, administrative, and legal software. Look into research tools geared towards lawyers.
Your office will need furniture. Don’t go nuts at first, but make the space look inviting. It’s important to make a good first impression.
Set a budget and stick to it when buying what you need. It’s also important to keep all receipts for tax purposes.
Many moving parts have to come together to run a successful firm. You can’t do everything yourself.
When starting out, you won’t need a huge staff. A small team of the right professionals will set a good foundation for growth.
An experienced administrative assistant is important. They can take care of things like incoming calls, scheduling, finances, and office management. This allows you to focus on your clients’ cases.
You should also consider hiring a law clerk or paralegal. They can help you with casework that requires legal knowledge. Consider taking on an intern who’s currently in law school.
All businesses need adequate insurance to protect themselves. As a law firm, you need the same type of insurance other businesses need, plus specialized coverage.
Getting legal malpractice insurance is a good idea. Some states require it. This coverage protects you from professional negligence claims.
You’ll also need to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This protects your staff from work-related illnesses.
Carrying general liability insurance is a good idea. This provides protection from things like bodily injury sustained on your property.
Other types of coverage to consider include property insurance and coverage that protects against cyber-attacks. Consult with a commercial insurance agent to find the best policy for your situation.
7. An Online Presence
A high-quality website should be your first marketing tool. You’ll eventually execute other advertising campaigns. However, a website is essential when starting out.
You’ll need to brand your firm. Have a graphic designer create a professional logo.
Then, work with a web designer to create a firm website. They’ll know how to tread your brand image throughout the site.
Your website needs to tell prospective clients how you can help them. It must have easy navigation and a strong call to action that puts visitors in touch with you.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. This means it displays and functions well on smartphones and tablets.
Allocate some of your startup funds to hiring a good web designer. You’ll see a return on investment down the road when your site starts generating business.
Start a Law Firm Office Built for Growth
The more prepared you are when starting your law firm office, the better chance you’ll have at growing during your first year. It’s all about preparation.
Use the tips discussed above and create a firm you can be proud of.
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