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How to Start and Build a Law Practice: Everything to Know and Do

15 min read
How to Start and Build a Law Practice: Everything to Know and Do

Do you want to start your own law firm? There are a number of things that you can do when you’re an attorney. You can become a partner in a law firm, you can be an underling for other lawyers for years, or you can branch out on your own.

It’s a big step, no matter how much legal experience you have. You are ultimately responsible for getting clients and giving them the best legal advice and representation possible.

How can you ensure that you get your practice off right?

Find out how to start and build a law practice from the ground up.

What’s the Scope of Your Practice?

The first thing that you want to do is decide what the scope of your practice will be. The more specific you are about your practice, the easier it will be for people to understand who you help and how you help them.

For example, you’re a business attorney. You can help businesses form their corporation and advise them on everything from taxes to intellectual property. You may specialize in prosecuting and defending lawsuits.

There are a couple of other factors that will go into that decision. The first is whether or not you want to partner with other attorneys.

This could influence your decision because you may have expertise in bankruptcy proceedings. You may want to work in family law as well, but your expertise isn’t quite ready for that type of work. You can partner with an attorney that has the expertise and clientele in family law.

One option is to open your practice in your area of expertise and build up. You can then expand your practice over time in other areas that are complementary to the work that you do.

You Need a Business Plan

It doesn’t matter how big or small your law practice will be, you need to make sure that you have a plan for your business.

A formal business plan will help you understand the business side of everything. Remember, you’re not just an attorney at this point, you’re an entrepreneur. You need to put that hat on and think about the viability of your business.

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A business plan will force you to look at every aspect of the legal business to make sure that it’s sound. You’ll know if there’s too much competition in your practice area and what the growth potential is.

You’ll also have an idea as to how much it will cost to start up your practice, the monthly operational expenses, and how you plan to market your business.

By the end of the business plan process, you have a solid road map that shows you how to start and build a law practice.

The Location Counts

Let’s face it, clients are impressed by the looks of your law practice. That’s why so many attorneys have downtown locations. It shows that you have a successful practice that can afford to pay more per square foot.

Don’t get too bogged down in feeling like you need a downtown office. Remember, you want to give your clients a great overall experience. Sure, a downtown location is impressive, but not if parking is a pain.

You want to choose a location that is convenient for your clients. You want it to be easy to get to and easy to find parking. You also want to keep your clients in mind.

Let’s say that you do estate planning and work with a lot of elderly clients. How willing would they be to park a few blocks away and climb a lot of stairs to get to your office? Not very willing at all.

Early Stage Financing

How will you finance your law practice in the early stages? You have a lot of start-up costs in equipment, office furniture, and a commercial lease. You may have employees and professional services like accountants to pay as well.

You have to expect that it will take you a while to turn a profit. You have to have some start-up capital set aside to cover expenses and take the stress off of you early on.

There are a number of ways to finance this business. You can self-finance or get loans to start with. This is why a business plan is so important because you know how much you’ll need to ask for.

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Marketing Your Law Firm

Now it’s time to talk about client acquisition. This is important because you need to start getting clients from the outset.

If you came from another law firm, you may have the option to contact former clients. You have to be careful not to violate any non-compete clauses from your previous firm.

For an attorney with a specific practice area, you can start by having a combination of digital and traditional marketing.

Being online is non-negotiable. About 96% of people look for legal advice online. They may start by researching their issues for background knowledge. They will then research different attorneys to contact.

They’ll read reviews and testimonials and then make a decision.

How can you get in front of these people searching online? Invest in tactics like SEO and content marketing. You also want to have a great website that looks good and is easy to use on all types of devices, too.

As you start to get clients, encourage them to leave a review on Google, as that will help with SEO and influence potential clients.

With traditional marketing, you want to go where your clients are. If you’re a business attorney, join as many chambers and networking groups to reach business owners. Advertise in business magazines.

This will help you get the word out in your local community quickly as you start up your practice.

How to Start and Build a Law Practice

These tips should give you insight as to how to start and build a law practice. It’s not always easy to do, but if you follow the map laid out here, you’ll be able to start strong.

You want to make sure that you have a scope of practice, and you want to make sure that you have a business plan. That will serve as the foundation of your business.

Do you want more business tips to help your practice grow? Come back to this site regularly for the latest business tips.

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