There are two questions you need to ask yourself when you start any business. How can I do this better or faster? & How can I do this differently?
It takes ten minutes to answer those questions and it will seriously help you learn how to start your own law firm. The other thing that will help? This article.
In it, we’re talking about how to do what seems impossible without losing your mind. Get started below.
Choose to Do It
When you set out to open your own law firm, it’s going to be hard. It’s going to take time and money to create a business.
There will be people along the way that support you and people who don’t. Those who don’t support you aren’t necessarily people who don’t believe in you. Some people are pessimists and other people love you and don’t want you to fail.
You can keep both types of people in your life, but let the nay-sayers know that this is something you’re doing. Hang out with the positive people during planning and look forward to proving your pessimistic friends wrong.
Make a Business Plan
A law firm is a business, it’s as simple as that. You need a business plan and the funds to start up a business.
Sometimes that means working at a firm you don’t like until you can save up the capital. You can get a business loan, but you’re likely still in debt from law school.
If you choose to pay off your student loans first, great! Do that. If you want to use your law firm earnings to pay them off, you can do that too.
With the latter, your nest egg may have to be bigger, depending on your credit availability.
One great resource to know if your business plan is viable? Run it by the lawyers or the firm managers where you did your internship. They already know you and want you to succeed, so they’ll be happy to help.
Ask them where they see issues – how can you fix that? What general and specific advice do they have for you? Listen and be grateful. They’re not getting anything out of this exercise, they’re doing you a favor.
Yes, your law firm needs certain things. A mail machine, a fax machine, printers, and lots of paper. Filing software, filing cabinets, and a cocktail of copying toner.
However, you don’t need the top model of all these things. You need something dependable – but it doesn’t have to have the shrinkwrap still on it.
Is there a business going out of business you can buy supplies off from? Sign up for memberships at office supply store and use their rewards programs.
Before you buy something, ask yourself if it’s going to help you make money or help you spend it.
Pick a Niche
You will drive yourself crazy if you think you can be a general practitioner. Do you want to feel like you’re in law school every day? That’s a good way to feel like you never graduated.
What were you great at in school? Which courses did you enjoy and get the easiest grades in?
What interests you and can you imagine doing even when you really don’t want to get out of bed? That’s the law specialization that you should choose.
Aside from the emotional and skill aspect of law niches, some are easier to start out in than others.
You’re not going to have your first client be a billion dollar company. You can build a name for yourself and attract bigger clients over time.
If you still need examples, think about law niches that normal people access. What kind of lawyer do people who don’t usually need a lawyer go to? People like this company.
Criminal law, divorce law, bankruptcy, and employment law are some great choices for starting out. You need to be nice, competent and able to easily explain things. That’s all most normal clients are looking for.
Create a Marketing Plan
How are you going to get clients to your new business? How are you going to toe the line between marketing your business and doing cheesy-for-tv ads?
You might not have the budget for a marketing firm. Ask firms in your area if they’ll refer to you when they have client overflow. Ask the law firm you did your internship with what they do for marketing.
Be creative. Can you go to local radio stations and answer common law questions? Start a podcast?
Don’t do what too many new businesses do and leave marketing out. You can’t run a law firm without clients. If you don’t set a realistic marketing budget, those nay-sayers might have been right.
Take On as Much as You Can Handle, Not More
When you start getting clients, you’ll be tempted to say yes to everyone. Don’t do this! You’ll burn out and do a less thorough job on your cases.
Take on as many cases as you have to take to keep the lights on, but don’t overdo it. It’s better to dip into savings to pay the rent than to lose clients to a mindless mistake.
If you have a law school in your area, think about hiring a student at an hourly rate to help with some of the basics. They’ll do about anything for experience! You were there once yourself.
How to Start Your Own Law Firm
If you’re at a law firm you don’t like, see a need for a firm in your market, or are a senior in law school – you can do this. It won’t be easy, you won’t get rich quick, and you’ll spend nights pouring over Excel sheets, but it’s possible.
Put in the time and determination, don’t give up, and drink lots of water along with your coffee.
For more tips on things like how to start your own law firm and creating a brand identity, check out our blog.