Whether you just graduated from law school or you work for a large law firm, you may have the desire to strike it out on your own as a solo attorney. Starting a small legal practice can be beneficial for a number of reasons. You get to be your own boss and you get to provide a more personal service to clients. However, whether you have worked for a firm before or not, there are a number of things you will need to know in order to manage your practice.

Find a Good Location

The location you choose is absolutely critical. You want to make sure that you are in an area that will provide clients with a good impression of your practice. Choosing an area where there are other professional businesses can help you. In addition to impressing your potential clients, you may be able to get a significant amount of business simply by being in a place where people are likely to see you. However, don’t get fooled into renting office space that you can’t afford initially. It may be better to choose a more affordable location initially until you have established a client list.

Set a Budget

It’s important to establish a budget from the very beginning. Don’t be surprised if it is a little more costly than you initially expected. You will need to rent office space, by office equipment, and spend some money on marketing.

Some of the different expenses to consider include:

  • Insurance
  • Accounting
  • Answering service
  • Marketing
  • Office lease
  • Electricity, internet, and phone
  • Printing and postage
  • Staff salaries
  • Unemployment tax

By considering all of the expenses early on, you can make sure that you create a budget that makes sense. Do a little research to ensure you are getting competitive rates for everything. You may also want to consider hiring an administrative assistant as one of the first expenses so that they can help you with all of the other components of your budget.

Create a Logo and Website

You need to have a professional image from the very beginning. This means creating a new logo for your practice. This logo will be a big part of your branding. It will be included on your website, letterhead, business cards, and everything else.

You will also want to have a website designed to ensure that you have an online presence. It is where you will talk about who you are as an attorney, what kind of services you provide, and more. You will also want to generate leads on your site, which requires a contact form for people to fill out when they want to ask a question or set up a consultation.

Establish a Marketing Strategy

When you decide to become a solo attorney, you will be responsible for bringing in all of your clients. In order to do this, you will need a marketing strategy. Most attorneys will need to do this on their own initially, simply because of the cost that is associated with hiring a marketing company. The first step is to promote your practice across social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. It will allow you to promote your expertise and potentially find leads.

It is also important to explore referrals from legal peers as well as a network of colleagues. Particularly if you offer any legal services for businesses, you will want to reach out to your network. If your network is smaller than you would like, consider getting involved with the Chamber of Commerce as well as having lunch with various well-connected individuals in your city.

Consider the Administrative Component

If you decide to become a solo attorney, you don’t have the support provided to you that large firms offer. This means you have to consider how all of the administrative work is going to get done. This can involve scheduling clients, sending invoices, and managing the daily workflow. You can choose to do this on your own or hire someone to do it for you. However, many lawyers find that they spend more time on administrative duties than they do meeting with clients – and you want to make sure you are prepared for this.

It’s important that you don’t go into this process blind. You have the ability to make it on your own as a solo attorney, but you are going to need help along the way. By taking the time to strategize and create a plan, you will have guidance at every step. It’s important to know what you are getting into before you make the decision to leave a law firm or go into practice on your own.

Having your own law firm allows you to have more freedom and flexibility in how you conduct your work and even how much you can get paid as an attorney. This is the reason why so many attorneys venture out on their own.  

Just remember, it might be a lot of upfront work in the beginning, but once you get your practice setup you can focus on getting clients and running your firm.

There’s also some really convenient online tools available to help you manage your practice once you get setup.

We’ve actually put together a comprehensive guide and tool kit to help you understand what’s needed to setup your law firm. You can download it here.

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