There are over 1 million lawyers in the United States. Many of them make a living applying for jobs at existing law firms and work on salary.
A select few, however, find that clocking in and out of another firm isn’t how they want to manage their careers and forgo the security of being an employee to launch their own firms.
Understanding how to start your own law firm is a tall task. One that’s too in-depth, frankly, to cover in a short blog post. Still, there are basics that we’d like to quickly share with you below which can guide your firm creation efforts!
1. Understand the Realities of Managing a Firm
When you’re an employee at a law firm, sure, you have to listen to others and let them manage a fair amount of your career and time. Still, at the end of the week, you know what your paycheck is going to look like and you know your health insurance will be there.
You’ll give those constants up when you learn how to start your own law firm and choose to take the leap.
Starting your own law firm means you’ll only make money from your billable hours (and you’ll quickly learn that most hours you work won’t be billable). To put it shortly, if you’re not ready to get extremely organized and to start hustling hard, sometimes just to get by, don’t go out on your own.
2. Pick a Lucrative Specialty
Most people that are looking to spend big money on legal services aren’t trying to go to a legal generalist. They want a lawyer that specializes in the type of case they’re dealing with.
That’s why you must pick a specialty that’s going to be lucrative to you based on the general market or your unique connections and stick with it.
You can be a car wreck lawyer a divorce attorney or anything else. Just don’t be a jack of all trades.
3. Prepare for a Slow Start
Very few law firms open their doors for the first time and are greeted by a full client load. Therefore, you’ll want to prepare for a ramp-up period when you first get started.
Make sure you have enough cash to float your firm for up to a year if possible. Then, during that period, invest in marketing and spend ample amounts of time picking up the phone and reaching out to leads.
4. Understand Your Financial Obligations
Owning a law firm means burning your financial candle at both ends. On the one hand, you’ll have to hustle hard to make money. On the other, you’re liable for expenses like your office’s lease, payroll, and more.
Estimate what your finical obligations (expenses) will be before starting your firm to understand how much you need to make to break even. If that number seems insurmountable, you’re not yet ready to own a firm.
5. Have Help Waiting in the Wings
Starting a law firm is a process that’s filled with pitfalls. Having professional connections that you can call for advice when those pitfalls arise will be very valuable to your success.
Let your network know ahead of time that you’re starting a firm and may be tapping them for advice. If you do that, you may even find that contacts will proactively reach out to offer assistance!
Now That You Know the How to Start Your Own Law Firm Basics, Dive Deeper
Starting a business, particularly one like a law firm, requires more than reading a how to start your own law firm post. Take what you’ve just learned and use it to ask more questions and keep digging deeper into your ambitions.
If you do, we’re confident that you’ll be the proud owner of a firm in no time! If you need more advice, you’re welcome to browse more of the tips we have available in our self-employment blog.
Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, and Yahoo Small Business.