College Advice Blog

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Feb 19, 2013

What You Should Know When Starting Up a Law Firm


As you’ve likely been advised, there are a few different routes you can take once you graduate from law school. You could go directly to a law firm and begin your career there, or you could take the road less travelled: starting your own firm. Starting your own law firm can be difficult, but for the entrepreneurial law students, it’s an exciting way to begin your career.

You may be dissuaded from starting your own practice directly out of law school because you believe you won’t have immediate success, and in some cases that may be true. But usually success depends on how you start your business. Check out this article for things you need to know when deciding to start up your own law firm after graduation.

Cost and Supplies
One reason that many recent law student grads like to set up their own law firms is because of the cost. When compared with other small businesses, the costs of operating a law firm tend to be small. And since you likely have some student debt to repay after graduating law school, not having tons of business costs is a great way to get started.
It shouldn’t cost you much to start your law firm, just the cost of supplies and any regulatory permits you may need. Consider that you need a computer, likely a fast laptop, with lots of software to do your accounting, timekeeping, and billing. You’ll also need a printer, copier, scanner combo to make paperwork easier.

Consider that you’ll also need phone and fax service, but you can find both for a bargain. In total, getting the materials to set up your law firm should cost just a few thousand dollars tops. If you rent an office, obviously it will be more.

Marketing
One of the most important things about starting your own law firm is having good marketing, as it could truly make or break your practice. Using YouTube to create legal marketing videos is a good start, but you really need to take it further than that for success.

Try and market as many places as you can, including online, the yellow pages, newsletters, and other places. Have business cards from day one that you can pass out, and really try and get your name out there. If you’ve got the budget for it, consider an outside marketing agency for help, but if you don’t then that’s okay. Recognize that marketing will take significant time for results, but that results will come.

Staff
Initially, you might be able to do everything yourself. But as your law firm grows and you become more successful, you’ll likely have to hire a staff in order to have time to do everything. You really don’t want to spend half your day doing administrative things when you should be trying to earn new business, which is why a few months after you start up you should consider hiring a few staff members. Even interns might work!
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