Starting A Law Firm? Here’s 5 Things You Need To Know
Many new lawyers who can’t find jobs in the field are choosing to go the solo route. Others are branching out from larger firms to have more control over their clientele. Whatever the case, starting your own law firm is huge undertaking, and whether you have decades of experience or are still relatively new to the field, there are a few house suggestions to be aware of. These five tips will help you become your own boss and launch a successful law firm:
Understand Your Startup Costs
Most experts would tell you that the cost of starting your own law firm varies. Stephanie Kimbro, blogger at Virtual Law Practice, says, “The answer depends on what method of legal service delivery the new lawyer wants to provide: traditional delivery, online delivery or a hybrid of the two.”
Lawyers who want a brick-and-mortar location will have much higher costs. According to Kimbro, one cost-effective option would be to start a hybrid practice with a shared office and shared or virtual receptionist. Must-haves include QuickBooks, liability insurance, an LLC, a website, business cards, and a marketing budget (critical for the first year of business). Cloud solutions make a lean startup more possible than ever, with reasonable per-user prices for a myriad of solutions.
Have A Reliable Communication System
Communication is the most important part of building a successful business; particularly one that thrives on conversation between multiple parties. One of the biggest decisions you’ll make is choosing how you want to build your communication foundation. You’ll likely be deciding between a conventional phone system or a hosted VoIP phone system for law firms.
Hosted VoIP services are becoming increasingly popular, largely due to their client-focused features and overall all-in-one solution. Because hosted VoIP phone systems don’t require complex hardware or installation, the service is cost-efficient and manageable. If you plan to take on out-of-state, or even out-of-country clients, your law startup could rack up heavy long-distance phone bills. VoIP systems are cloud-based, which keep expenses to a minimum and allow you to focus more on building strong client relationships. Lastly, because this communication system is cloud-based, it’s highly scalable. Employees can utilize it from anywhere in the world and build onto the system as the business grows.
Choose A Specialty
When you choose a speciality niche, you’re less likely to run into competition. Even if you eventually broaden your horizons or start broad to build your initial client base, you’ll have a competitive advantage if you declare yourself an expert in a specific area. It will also be less expensive to market to a smaller, targeted audience than to market to all people in need of legal services. Choose something you have experience in and/or are very passionate about. Your passion will show, and it will help build your reputation in the field.
Build A Website
Every business should have a website and blog. A website details your services, mission, contact information and much more, while a blog asserts your expertise in your field. Additionally, both boost your SEO and increase your chances of being discovered organically. Your social media presence should also branch off of your website. Take the time to build these and, if your budget permits, hire a professional to design your website and blog. This list of best legal blogs will offer some inspiration on the type of topics your audience is interested in. Create an editorial calendar and map out your blog posts for the next 1-3 months.
Attract The Right Clientele
Many lawyers launch their business with clients from their previous law firm or take on family and friends as initial clients. Whatever the case, your word-of-mouth recommendations are critical – especially during early stages. Your strategy for finding your first client should include a mix of reaching out to your contact list and developing an in-house marketing strategy (unless you have the budget to outsource). Paid advertising can also be a lucrative way to expand your reach, and with pay-per-click and social media advertising options, you have more control over how much you spend and who you’re targeting.