Posted by Jay Kamlet on Dec 11, 2014
Opening a solo law practice comes with all the usual challenges of small business ownership.
The challenges of small business ownership can give pause to even the most seasoned lawyer. For those who are interested in opening a solo law practice, the challenges may seem daunting. Fortunately, with resources like LawBank at your disposal, there are many solutions already in place to help you transition into owning your own law office.
Office location. Finding a reasonable location for your office is the first hurdle, and it can be one of the most difficult issues for newly independent lawyers. Do you sign a lease for your own space? Do you go in with other attorneys on a common space? Do you sublease a room from another professional? Luckily, places like LawBank offer an ideal solution, with a range of co-working, private office and cubicle-style accommodations at affordable rates. Plus, with a current location at Colorado and I-25 and a new space opening soon in Denver West, LawBank gives you options to cut down your commute.
Advertising. If people don’t know you exist, they can’t use your legal services. Start by creating a website with a blog. That will help you get the word out, and also improve the likelihood of potential clients finding you when they conduct online searches for specific terms related to your practice. (We will discuss blogs more in depth in another post.) Many new lawyers offer some sort of special perk or discount to new clients, as well as for referrals. Get on social media and other online media to spread the word and join conversations about your practice areas. See our previous posts about social media marketing for lawyers and building a referral base online.
Establishing policies. Wether you’re moving from a big from or starting your own practice fresh out of law school, it’s important to establish a series of business policies and stick to them. If you clients think everything is up for negotiation, then they will try to negotiate everything. You don’t want that. Instead, put your policies in writing, share them with new clients at the beginning of your relationship, and stand by your terms. It’s much easier to stick to your guns when you’ve already established the policies and can explain the reasoning behind them, rather than making up your working terms as you go.
To partner or not to partner? Having a partner can be beneficial at the start. You can split startup costs and the initial business-buildign tasks. You can also bounce ideas off each other and bring a team approach to your client work. Of course, the appeal of going solo for many attorneys is the freedom of not having to answer to anyone else. If that’s you, then consider joining a larger, collaborative group that can provide you with the support, networking and resources that you might otherwise miss when going it alone. LawBank offers this kind of community, with a shared office space full of attorneys from diverse specialties who refer work back and forth, and serve as sounding boards for each other on different projects. If you do take on a partner, make sure to set up a contract that outlines your working arrangement, business ownership split and other key issues.
Building a reputation. Networking is important to most professions, and law is no different. In fact, networking may be more valuable to lawyer than just about any other profession. So when you’re starting your own shop, don’t hide under a rock. Get out there. Meet people. Stay in touch with those you already know. Attend events at places like LawBank and meet with other professionals in complementary fields. Just remember: Networking is a long-term, cumulative process. Don’t expect results overnight.
Want to learn how LawBank can help you launch your solo law career? Contact us today to set up a tour and hear how we can help you build your business.
For more information on starting and running your own law firm, check out our free e-book: Are You Ready to Go Solo?