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Should you start your own firm as a new lawyer?

Factors to consider before starting a new law firm

You just graduated from law school, you passed the bar, you’re sitting on tens of thousands of dollars of student loans, and you still haven’t landed that plum law firm job. You’re at a crossroads where you ask: should you continue your job search and seek to join a firm or start your own?

If you are leaning toward starting your own firm, you’ll need to think about some basic startup matters:

Should you rent office space?
To save money, many new lawyers try to work out of their homes, with mixed results. If you’re tempted to use a home office because you can’t or don’t want to sign a long-term lease, consider your other options. Many temporary office space companies offer quality facilities on a short-term or even month-to-month basis. Shared office space offers the infrastructure that will help you get your own practice up and running, but without the overhead cost of a long-term office lease.

Where should your office be?
If you plan on litigating, look for something near the courthouse. If you’re developing a real estate practice, find a commercial space in a residential area that you’d like to serve. If you want a commercial or corporate practice, look for office parks that cater to small businesses. Those businesses will appreciate your proximity and your desire to grow with them.

Don’t forget insurance
State and local bar associations offer low-cost professional liability insurance that will protect you and your business in case something slips through the cracks. Your insurer can also help you with client retainer letters that memorialize your attorney-client relationships.

Set up your business and accounting structures
Lawyers are notorious for telling other people how to run their businesses while ignoring their own. Incorporate your business as a simple corporation or limited liability company in your own state. Get your own employer ID number from the IRS and track your expenses. You’ll be able to charge those expenses against your income as the fees begin to roll in. Don’t forget to make quarterly or monthly tax deposits, or you’ll have a nasty surprise waiting for you when you file your returns.

Look for networking options to build your practice
Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn on Facebook or LinkedIn. Look for MeetUp groups in your area that will put you in front of prospective clients. Join practice groups with your state and local bar associations.

Create an online presence
Get a domain name, a simple website and an e-mail address with a personal domain. You don’t need an expensive ecommerce site, but you’ll look more professional with a good e-mail domain instead of a gmail or yahoo email address. Include a simple WordPress blog on your website and write two or three 500-word articles every week on your practice areas. Prospective clients that have never worked with an attorney will turn first to the Internet to find a lawyer, and your website and blog can be a great way to market your business to those clients.

You didn’t go to law school to learn how to run a business. When you start your own practice, you will understandably focus on practicing law. We understand this reality and we are ready and able to help you with the business side of your practice. To learn more about our flexible office leases and co-working spaces for lawyers in Denver, please contact us at your convenience.