There are nearly 500,000 law firms in the United States, and the legal services industry has experienced a growth rate of over 1% in the past year. That growth is expected to continue, with a 6% increase in the demand for lawyers by 2024.
With this bright outlook ahead, it’s not surprising that you’re ready to strike out on your own. Starting your law firm now will put you in a prime position to take advantage of the growing demand.
So how does a lawyer go solo and start their own successful law firm?
Becoming a self-employed lawyer comes with a whole host of benefits. You get to choose what clients you take, set your schedule, plan that extra-long vacation, the works. It also comes with some unique challenges you may not have considered, so here are a few tips to get you started.
- Get a good accountant. You’re going to be far too busy to keep up with your taxes yourself.
- Learn to value your clients from a business perspective. Your clients pay for your firm, your house, and your food, so treat them appropriately.
- Be prepared to continue learning. Each case comes with its own unique circumstances, and you have to be willing to learn on the job so you can appropriately serve the client.
- Get comfortable with managing others. You’re the boss now, so you have to be able to instruct assistants, paralegals, and even other attorneys.
Self-employment is its own unique challenge. Take some time to consider the changes it will create in your professional and personal life and plan accordingly.
59% of people say they use online reviews and searches to help them make a decision when they need to hire a lawyer. Additionally, 81% of millennials say they’re more inclined to hire a lawyer who has good online reviews. This shows how powerful of a tool the internet is for attracting new clients.
You can make the most of that tool by optimizing your online presence. For now, let’s focus on three ways of doing this.
When those millennials head to the internet to look for a lawyer, you need to be one of the first ones that pop up. If you’re unlucky enough to end up on the second page of a google search, most searchers will never even see your site.
SEO is the secret to securing that coveted first-page spot. A professional agency can improve your online visibility by improving your content, creating new content, and getting other sites to post your links.
If you want to learn more, check out this guide to SEO for lawyers. It gives you a full explanation and a few more statistics that show you just how important online visibility is.
Remember how we said people like to hire lawyers with good reviews? Well, there are some very specific sites where that happens, and you need to be on them. The top lawyer review websites as of 2020 were:
- Google Lawyer Reviews. If you sign up for a Google My Business account, people will be able to find you and review you with a simple search.
- Yelp. This will usually be the first site to pop up when someone searches for reviews on you, due to its extreme popularity. You have the opportunity to share details about your service and respond to reviews.
- Avvo. This is one of the few sites designed specifically for people seeking lawyers. It lists 97% of the lawyers in the country.
Joining these sites gives your clients a chance to share their experience with you, which is one of the main factors others will use to decide if you’re the lawyer for them.
Many social media sites, including Instagram and Facebook, allow you to sign up for business accounts. This gives you access to insights on your analytics, so you can tell which posts are benefiting you.
This is a fast and easy way to ensure you’re making content your followers want to see. Remember, people don’t want to only see you selling. Be sure to include helpful articles, legal advice, or other relevant content that isn’t just asking them to hire you.
Taking these three steps can help you ensure that your online presence is working for your new law firm, not against it.
Once your firm is up and running, you may find yourself in the position to take on a law partner, or partners. This is an impactful decision, as you’re essentially tying your reputation to someone else’s.
You don’t want to make the wrong decision and undo all the work you’ve done to build your reputation as a professional, so how do you ensure you choose partners that can help you grow your business?
- Choose someone with your same ethics and goals.
- Ensure you have a similar vision for where you want the partnership to go.
- Look into their financial and professional history to make sure there are no red flags.
- Find someone who has characteristics you lack. If you’re a newer attorney, you can consider partnering up with someone with more experience.
- Come to a formal, written agreement that protects both of you if things don’t work out.
You and your potential business partner should each think about the proposition and decide if you believe it’s beneficial to you. A partnership can be hard to dissolve, so don’t start it unless you’re absolutely sure it’s right.
Follow the steps in this guide and you’ll be well on your way to starting a successful law firm.
John Pearson is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.