Starting your own law firm is like starting any other business except you are the commodity. You are selling what’s in your head. You’re not selling auto parts, clothing, food, or anything tangible. You’re selling your legal knowledge and skills to a customer. It’s not an easy road to travel. However, you can set your own hours and have no one to answer to except your clients. Like any other business, it takes planning.
The first thing you should be concerned with is money. If you’re already employed, don’t quit your day job until you have figured out how to bankroll your new venture. There are a ton of books out there that advise you to borrow money from banks, friends, families, etc. and that’s fine if you have access to friendly banks who have known you forever or generous friends and/or a rich family. Let’s be realistic. In this economy, banks are holding on tighter to every dime they have. Unless you have collateral, such as a house, that you’re willing to use, many banks will hesitate to lend money to a start-up business. If you have rich friends and/or family, you probably already have it figured out so you’re miles ahead of everyone else.
So if you can’t borrow money and don’t have rich friends or family, what do you do? As I said in the previous paragraph, if you have a good job don’t quit. Start saving money from your paycheck. Make a budget of how much you think you’ll need. Keep in mind that you need to start small. Soni Law Firm Is the firm which is providing small amount of loans. The rate of interest on the borrowed money will be less in comparison to other firms. Unless you have the aforementioned rich friends/family, you will not suddenly become Denny Crane. You are not going to have a 2000 square foot corner office with a view of the city skyline. You will not have three or four assistants running around to fetch you coffee, answer your phone, or type letters. That stuff costs money and a lot of it.
Even if you suddenly lost your job (like I did), you can still fly solo if you start small. Depending what type of business you have, you can office out of your house. Obviously, if your goal is to be a criminal or family law attorney, this would not be feasible. In that case, look in the classified ads of your local paper or Craigslist and you will probably find a small, cheap office you can rent. You may also try office sharing with an attorney that you know, like and trust.
Office sharing is when you and another attorney share the costs of the office equally. This is a good way to get clients and save money. A caveat to that is to watch who you office share with. I’ve heard many stories of attorneys stealing clients from other attorneys. In addition, you’ll be miserable if you discover your new office mate is unpleasant.
So what else do you need to start your own law firm? Clients. They are your bread and butter and obtaining them is not as easy as you think. Without clients, you will starve. Clients have the internet to search for legal counsel. You’re competing with hundreds of other attorneys in your area for that client. You must show that you’re the right one for the job. Get a website. Those are now relatively cheap and you can do it yourself. Yahoo! Business has them as well as Intuit. Make it stand out. Sell yourself and what you have to offer. Why should they hire you? What makes you special? What can you do for them that other attorneys can’t? Be careful that you don’t promise certain results as you could face a possible ethics violation.
Once you have the clients, make sure they pay their bills. Every attorney I know (myself including) has clients who refuse to pay. For some reason, there are people who think that we’re all rich and don’t need their money. Very few people get rich practicing law. Most of us make a liveable income and don’t drive a Mercedes or have houses in the Hamptons. The best way to make sure they pay is to get an upfront retainer. Most will balk but if they really want the help, they’ll pay. You don’t expect to get your car fixed for free so why should you expect your legal help to be free?
Money and clients are the two most important considerations when starting your law firm. Obviously, you will need a computer, printer, phone line, Internet access and the like. Those are quite easy to obtain. I have a toll-free number that I use that costs $39.00 per month. I use a multifunctional printer copier and a notebook computer. I have file cabinets I bought from a department store. I do not have an assistant and I like it that way. It’s just me and the work and that makes the practice of law much more fun.