The demand for legal services in the US is high, with 78 percent of US law firms reporting an increase in their annual gross revenue, according to the 2019 Altman Weil’s Law Firms in Transition Survey. With the demand expected to keep rising, now is the best time to set up your own legal business and build it up brick by brick into a well-known and respected firm. However, starting a law firm on your own can be intimidating. Even if you’ve worked in another firm before or you’ve done some freelance legal work in the past, the thought of operating a law practice as a business can be scary. But, if you follow a simple, basic checklist, you can get your office up and running in no time.
Ensure you are ready to go solo
Before starting your legal practice, you need to give serious thought to the step you’re about to take, especially if you are quitting your job first. You must ensure that you can deliver A+ work to your clients: the law profession has no room for B or C players. If you’ve worked at a law firm before and have great training behind you, you’re probably good to go. However, if you’ve never worked at a law firm, you’ll need to seek guidance from experienced lawyers, mentors, and the bar association in your state. Most bar associations have tons of resources for lawyers considering starting their own firms, including step-by-step guidelines on choosing a business name, selecting a legal structure, and even templates of some of the key documents you’ll need in your practice.
Have a proper budget
Starting a law firm is going to be costly in the initial phase. If you want to impress your clients, you’ll need a decent office space and various types of office supplies and equipment. On top of that, you’ll need to hire a legal assistant with good experience to help you with some of the workloads. Another vital thing you’ll need is insurance, which could either be voluntary or mandatory depending on the laws in the state you’re setting up shop in. For example, legal malpractice insurance is a must-have for a law firm, since it covers most suits you’ll face. If you’re hiring, you’ll need specific worker’s compensation insurance for lawyers to ensure that your firm is covered in the event that an employee gets any work-related injuries or illnesses.
Find your clients
Your earnings will largely depend on the number of paying clients you have. While having a client list from your previous job will go a long way as you’re getting started, do not rely on it. If you want to grow your firm’s business, you’ll need to be always on the lookout for new opportunities to acquire clients. Start by cultivating referrals from your legal peers; while doing so, don’t hesitate to ask for referrals from your contacts in other fields, such as realtors and business professionals. You’ll also need to set aside a budget for developing a marketing strategy. You can use a variety of online and offline marketing activities, including buying social media adverts, billboards and developing a modern, mobile-responsive website.
Like many solo practitioners, you can also start a law firm from scratch and grow it into a successful business. It will be challenging, especially in the initial phases, but if you’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and you don’t mind taking the risks of starting a business, it can be extremely rewarding.