Starting a business of any kind can be a daunting undertaking. New businesses fail with predictable regularity and it is often a combination of both skill and luck that propel the successful ones forward. The law, however, requires extensive training and practice (no pun intended) and therefore a law firm is only as successful as its founders. There are, however, a few simple and foolproof methods you can use to ensure your start-up law firm realizes success quickly.
Planning and Action: The naysayers will proclaim that the best time to start a law firm is never. Because operating a law office requires a great deal of planning, the first step towards success is in how well you can immediately eliminate procrastination. While proper planning is critical to the outcome of your firm, it will best serve you to not get caught up in the planning while procrastinating the actual execution. Preparation can be a forever ongoing task until one is ready to take decisive action. Plan first, by all means, but act quickly. Avoid getting tied down in over-preparing.
Location: Because the law is inherently pessimistic, it is easy to get bogged down with logistics like where to position your firm or how to navigate the start-up costs. You first need to decide where you will practice. Ideally you’ll target an area where you can develop a reputation as the go-to firm based not only on your legal specialty, but also your location.
Using Modern Technology: Once you have found your area, the modern start-up costs of operating a law firm have been hugely influenced by the cloud. With mobile data storage from a variety of services, it is feasible to start your firm directly from the comfort of your own home. Because data, documents, web-sources, and even academic and public databases can be accessed remotely, the start-up costs can truly be in the eye of the operator. For example, a computer, scanner, printer, and access to a myriad of cloud-based web programs could get you up and running for just under $4,000. Here is some help setting up your firm.
Personal and Financial Protection: As with everything that orbits the legal realm these days, protection is critical. You need to quickly assess your structure, focusing on liabilities and tax-related circumstances. There is no greater gift a burgeoning law firm can give itself than the gift of protection. Once you find your area and establish your technological systems, researching and employing the proper safeguards for your own personal and financial protection is a must.
Watch Your Money: As you go about recruiting your first few clients, it is important to constantly be watching your money. Tracking expenses is a cornerstone of any business but is especially important in start-ups. By keeping overhead low, you allow more time for your cash flow to gain momentum. Even with a solid starting customer base, it may take several months to begin to see consistent returns on your work.
Earning Clients: The most important aspect of starting a law firm (or any similar business enterprise) is building trust. Through active listening and empathy you can begin to build the bridges that will eventually comprise a sprawling network of relationships. Ideally your network is based on the principles of legal need. It is in this way that you can generate not only return clients but also a wealth of referral traffic. Until that reality is earned, however, your new law firm must focus the bulk of its energy on earning trust in the community and proving to have the best interests of the clientele at the forefront.
As with any professional endeavor, starting up a law firm can be a stressful and even scary project. With patience and guidance you can reach your goals and become that go-to firm your community so badly needs.