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Starting a career as an attorney going it solo can be very rewarding. And it’s not at all difficult to get your solo practice off the ground. The challenge is whether you can maintain and grow your practice over time. Especially if you are still in the early stages of your career, it’s important to avoid making errors that could damage your image, and your finances, for years. To help you get off to a great start, Magazinozo offers the following advice.
Get Some Practical Experience First
No matter how well-educated you are in the field of law, and no matter how talented you are, there are probably going to be aspects of practicing law you simply haven’t prepared for. And not only will a legal job enable you to develop and hone your skills, but demonstrated success in your field will make clients more likely to seek your services.
Be Aware of Your Expenses
You can start a law business with low overhead, yes. But there are still certain expenses that go into running a successful law practice. And as Embroker explains, one of these is insurance. Even if it’s not mandated in your state, you do not want to embark on your career as an attorney without this protection. And though you may not need insurance for other aspects of your business, you should at least acquire legal malpractice insurance.
Depending on your business, once you have gotten started, you will probably need to budget for court filing fees, witness fees, and medical record expenses, among others. And technology is a large aspect of every business now, so be sure to budget some money for technical assistance.
Don’t forget that you will need to pay yourself as well! So CosmoLex advises deciding whether you are going to do so in the form of a share, a salary, or draw payments.
Write a Law Business Plan
No matter what kind of business you are starting, it’s wise to begin by getting it all on paper, in the form of a business plan. A business plan will help you articulate your goals and have a clear view of your finances. In your plan, you will set forth your core values and your mission statement and clarify practical details such as the precise services you offer, and the location and clientele you serve.
You’ll also need to include your business structure. Many professionals opt to run their business as an LLC due to the protection of certain assets, tax advantages, and flexibility. It’s possible to form an LLC on your own, or go with an online formation service. The latter choice ensures that all the proper paperwork is filed with the state in a timely manner. A business plan is also an important preparatory step toward putting together your marketing plan.
Market Your Business Well
Leadership Girl notes that every business depends heavily on its marketing campaign for sustainable success. This means you need to know who your prospective clients are, what medium will reach them, and how to craft a brand and message that they will trust. You will also need to have a well-designed business card, with all your pertinent information like contact info and details about your practice areas. Fortunately, by creating useful business cards online, you can use professionally designed templates to customize your firm’s image and message.
Be sure to maintain important business connections through strategic communication, and by sending thoughtful “thank you” gifts after meetings. And, if appropriate, reach out to previous clients to maintain your relationships. You can offer free consultations or take them to lunch.
Law Firm Best Practices to Consider
One of the most important practices to master is financial management. This means keeping track of funds coming in as well as those going out, monitoring cash flow, and making financial projections. Good financial management will allow you to meet your financial goals without overspending or getting into a rut, and to grow your business steadily over time.
If managing finances seems to take up too much of your time, another good practice is to automate as much as possible. Software and digital tools will help you maintain impeccable accuracy without loss of productivity. For example, accounting platforms like QuickBooks can make it easy to automate invoicing and track payments. Whereas free platforms offer administrative tools like an easy PDF compressor to help you manipulate files and maintain organization.
Some Mistakes to Avoid
Some common mistakes that can lead to trouble for law firms include poor communication, poor planning, and administrative error. In addition, errors to avoid that are specific to your field include offering your services pro bono too often, insufficient investigation of a case, and simply not knowing the law well enough. You can avoid these errors if you are faithful to the principles of good business, and make sure you are thorough and exact when preparing for cases.
Running your own solo law firm has many advantages: you can choose your own cases, set your own hours, and craft your own business mission. Just make sure you go into it knowing how to succeed, and how to avoid common pitfalls. Focus on your marketing plan and be sure to develop and maintain any client relationships to create a stable client base.