If you’re a lawyer, you know that the legal profession is a demanding one. Lawyers…
Are you thinking about starting a solo law practice? Whether you are fresh out of law school or have been practicing law at a multi-person firm, there are many things to consider when taking your first solo step.
Factors to Consider
Having your own law practice may seem like it would open up your schedule, but in reality, it may pile more work onto your plate, especially at first. As a solo lawyer, you will be responsible for handling all aspects of your business. You will need to do everything from creating a business plan and marketing your practice to billing clients, paying taxes and fees, and much more.
Timing is an important factor to consider. Some will say that there is never a perfect time to open your new practice, and others will say that any time is right. Both views can be true. Some factors would make it extra challenging to strike out on your own, such as supporting a spouse and children or having significant debts to pay off. However, if you are ready and willing to take the risk, you can put yourself in a good position for a successful start.
Choose a Practice Area, or Areas
Maybe you have found a favorite area of law and have been practicing it for years, or perhaps you are still trying to figure out what area calls you. Whatever the case, it helps to listen to your gut. Which area of the legal field do you most often think about? That area is most likely your calling. Of course, you don’t have to stick to one practice area. You can specialize in multiple services, especially if they complement each other, such as estate planning and elder law. You may even consider partnering with another attorney who concentrates in a different area to expand potential services.
Business Plan and Budget
Creating a thorough business plan will increase your chances of succeeding. Without a business plan to guide you, it won’t be easy to chart your course and stay on it. Additionally, it will be simpler to stay motivated when you have a plan with well-defined goals. Make sure your plan is comprehensive and includes your goals, realistic projections for revenue and expenses, and marketing strategies.
In addition to your business plan, you need to have a budget that considers all your presumed expenses. Take the time to think of all the costs of running your solo practice, including rent, CLEs, bar dues, malpractice insurance, office supplies, website, marketing and advertising, and support staff.
Tools & Outsourcing
There are many aspects of running a solo law practice that you can automate or outsource. An obvious area for automation or outsourcing is accounting and billing. A less obvious option is client intake processes. For example, you can have a calendar feature on your website that will allow existing and prospective clients to book appointments with you.
Marketing is an area that requires a lot of time and energy to do successfully and is an area that can also easily be outsourced. You will need to decide how you want to market your practice, which methods will attract the most potential clients, and create content that will appeal to them. Hiring a marketing agency, such as Law As a Business (LAB), that specializes in all aspects of marketing and communications for law firms will free up a significant amount of time and likely lead to faster growth.
If you have decided that you are ready and willing to take on the risk and workload of launching and growing a solo law practice, then it may be time to create a business plan, budget for your new law practice, and put the plan into action. Preparation and organization will help you take your first steps with confidence. If these are not your strong suits, visit your local small business association for free help to review parts of your business plan and financial forecasts. You can also hire a financial advisor and someone to write the business plan for you. This information is critical if you intend to get a small business loan and begin your venture with plenty of capital to get you through the first year on your own.
Avoid mistakes when budgeting your firm’s marketing plan.
Understanding the priorities for your marketing strategy is the first step in getting the ball moving toward its implementation. Another essential component of the process is creating a realistic budget with quantifiable expectations for a return on your investment. Watch this video and learn how how to get started in setting your marketing budget.