Whether you are tired of your overbearing boss or your underpaying job, every lawyer dreams of starting his own solo law private practice one day. Solo practice means you can be the boss of your time and work. You can enjoy a weekend boasting or even binge-watching your favorite series, instead of spending hours working on a summary judgment motion.
However, starting a solo law practice is no walk in the park. You are completely on your own. Furthermore, the increasing number of lawyers has intensified competition. As of August 2019, there were around 1.35 million lawyers in the U.S. So, the success of your solo practice will depend on your hard work, planning, and how well you promote yourself.
Here are a few things you need to know when starting a solo law practice.
1. Take a Hard Look at Your Plan
When you plan to take the solo route, you need to think about how much money goes in and how much will come out.
You will need to take care of personal expenses such as mortgage or rent, gas, electricity, and other utilities, insurance, and Medicare, among others. Furthermore, you will have to pay for business expenses including utility bills, office equipment like computer, copier, and billing or accounting software, and hiring office space and taxes as well.
Take all these expenses into account and see how much you will need to make every month as a solo lawyer. Plus, you won’t be able to start making money immediately. So, you will need to put aside some seed money to take care of your expenses for a couple of months, at least.
2. Set Up Your Office
If you are on a tight budget, using your home address as your office address is a great idea. However, there’s a trade-off here. Your home address will be on all court filings, compromising your family’s safety. A private office, although more expensive, is a better option if you want to keep your personal and professional lives separate.
Your office needs to be in a convenient location. It will add more value to your business. You can find the smallest place to reduce your expenses and enjoy your privacy. Alternatively, you can also set up a virtual office. You will get a mailing address and other services for a monthly fee.
These expenses, however, may add up over time, making a virtual office more expensive than renting a private place. So, get out there and do some research to find suitable office space for your solo practice.
3. Ensure Good Web Presence
Every small business is on the Web these days. Your solo practice also needs to be on the internet. That’s why you need a website and a Google My Business (GMB) profile with your contact details to help locals find your office. For example, people looking for personal injury lawyers in Illinois will use a phrase like “personal injury attorneys Illinois” or “Illinois personal injury lawyers” to search for them online.
If you have a keyword-optimized website and an updated GMB page, your online leads can easily find your business. Fortunately, it is easier to set up a simple website that describes your latest accomplishments, legal expertise, and contact details. Make sure the website is attractive, mobile-friendly, and loads quickly to keep your target audience engaged.
You should also promote your practice on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Display your legal expertise to earn leads through social media. You can talk about local legal news, express your opinions on current legal affairs, and offer general legal advice to your potential prospects through blogging, social media posts, and videos.
4. Focus on Quality and Not Quantity
While you should always look for opportunities to acquire new leads, you should also focus on quality, not quantity. Remember, you may not always find a challenging case. So, it is perfectly okay to take up routine cases to pay your bills. However, you don’t want to overwork yourself entertaining clients that are less likely to add value to your practice. If you are building a personal injury practice, providing quality pre-litigation support can also give your clients peace of mind that they are getting the most out of your services.
Another option to get better cases is to identify your referrals and potential marketing partners who can help you find quality leads. Look into your existing and extended networks. For example, a tax attorney can connect with accountants, bankers, and local businessmen to acquire more clients. Start your networking as early as possible. If you are planning to start your solo practice in the next few months, now is the time to start networking.
As you can see, starting a solo practice comes with many challenges. However, with proper planning and networking, you can establish a successful solo private law practice. Hopefully, knowing these four things beforehand should help you in this regard. Are you planning on starting a solo practice of your own? When and how do you plan to do it? Tell us about it in the comments section.