Make the most of available resources to grow your law business
Each year, a fresh crop of newly sworn attorneys hit the market, discover they are competing with thousands more like themselves and opt to start their own firms. Many mid-career lawyers also choose to leave big law to try their hands at independent law practice.
Going solo or partnering with another new lawyer is possible, and it can be a successful venture if the newbie does his or her homework and remembers that running a successful solo law firm is like running a successful small business.
- Use available technology. Surprisingly, a 2016 survey found that small law firms use no software in their business beyond e-mail and word processing. Billing, invoicing and, most importantly, social media are essentials in today’s market. Specialized software for law practice streamlines many everyday tasks. Use it.
- Know your market. As with any startup business, it is essential to know what the potential income is likely to be, what the probable costs will be and the time required to break even on a client. Especially in the field of law, where payment is often contingent/delayed or dependent upon a constant inflow of clients, independent lawyers needs a good grasp of how saturated the field is before hanging out a new shingle.
- Quality support staff. Too many small businesses, in all fields, skimp on support staff at first. Business owners with tight cash flow think they will save money by doing all the office work themselves. This mistake can cost you dearly, however, as correspondence, bills and phone calls pile up while the principal is doing the core legal work. Today, virtual paralegals exist to do online research and document filing for small firms, and such options are a must for any independent practitioner. In addition, choosing a shared office space with an on-site receptionist can help you stay on top of calls.
- Get a mentor. The best startups have someone else in the field they can turn to for advice and assistance. Law firms are no different. The new solo or small firm must have a friend or acquaintance who is also a solo practitioner, who can tell them what pitfalls they are likely to encounter, offer tips, and provide pointers about navigating rough spots. Most local bar associations have some type of small-firm networking group for this purpose, and newbies should take advantage of it.
- Build a community. Independent lawyers can compete more successfully if they connect with each other. In a co-working environment, such as LawBank, you meet other independent lawyers who can offer you support and even referrals.
Treat your independent law practice or small firm like a business first and a law firm second, and you will be on your way to small-business success. To learn more about building your business alongside fellow independent lawyers in central Denver or Denver Uptown, contact us.