The legal marketplace is changing. Attorneys are doing more than just practicing law, they are becoming entrepreneurs and starting their own practices in their preferred area of law. Recent data shows 23 percent of legal practitioners were interested in opening their own practices in 2016 — a huge jump from the previous poll in 2005 showing only 5 percent were considering this business move.
Thinking of joining this growing wave of professionals? The following tips can help better ensure a successful start:
- Put together a plan. What will you practice? Do you have a niche specialty within an area of law? Having a niche market can help you gain competence and provide your clients a more efficient resolution to their legal issues. Next, put together a business plan. Will your practice follow the more traditional pyramid model with partners at the top and associates at the bottom billing by the hour, operate as a smaller practice billing a flat rate or a different more innovative approach? Put together a basic outline before moving forward.
- Get the legalities in order. Set up the right accounts to take in funds from clients, incorporate your business wisely and get the permits you need. A misstep when starting your legal practice can lead to problems with the minutiae of business operations. Reduce the risk by taking the steps necessary to operate your business in your desired location.
- Market your firm. The first step: choose a firm name. The name is often the first thing potential clients will hear about your firm. Try to find a name that sets up your firm for brand recognition amongst potential clients. Use of the founders’ names is a common practice. Another common option involves is pairing a founder’s name or location with the industry, like Morgan’s Family Law Practice or Conroe Estate Attorneys. After you have a name, put together a website and start networking with other professionals and business leaders in the community.
Although you may be a specialist in your area of law, it is often wise to seek legal counsel when starting a business. An attorney experienced in start-ups can discuss the pros and cons of each business formation option, provide guidance on tax planning strategies and help draft employment contracts as needed.