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How to Start a Law Firm

Starting a law firm can be one of the best decisions a lawyer can make.

Not only can you make more money as the owner of your own law firm but you can also enjoy the freedom to pursue the types of cases and clients you get energy from vs. working for a firm where your cases and clients may be dictated to you even if they’re energy vampires.

Good News:  Did you know that according to ABA statistics nearly 60% of lawyers in the US are actually solo practitioners?  And that’s not a recent statistic.  The fact of the matter is that the face of the most successful lawyers in the US has always been a solo practitioner.

More Good News:  Did you know that lawyers have been starting SUCCESSFUL solo & small law firms for more than 500 years?

That’s right, this is a very well-documented fact.  As business models go law firms are pretty well tried & true and you can make alot of money just sticking to the fundamentals.  Only trouble of course is that they don’t teach us the fundamentals of starting, marketing and/or managing a successful law firm in law school.  Which is why, sad to say, so many solo lawyers DON’T have “successful” law firms.

Zig Ziglar, a well known success coach said that if he was going to go into a new line of business he knew nothing about the first thing he’d do is study what the average person in that business is doing…and do the opposite!

Because if you do what everyone else is doing you’ll only get the results everyone else is getting.

The main reasons most lawyers who start a law firm don’t find as much success as they could are:

1. They don’t stop to ask themselves what it means to have a “successful” law firm vs. just having a law firm.

2. They don’t appreciate the difference between the job of being a lawyer vs. the business of running a law firm. 

One we are reasonably well prepared for by law school and subsequent years practicing law; the other we are not.  Because ten years of becoming the best lawyer in the world in your chosen practice area may expose you to little or no experience in how to run the business itself.

3. They fail to consider the opportunity cost of trying to figure it out themselves the hard way.

Figure if you’re good enough to pass the bar exam and choose a reasonably straight forward practice area, if you know what you’re doing when it comes to the management & marketing of your law firm you should be able to gross at least $100,000 in your first year.

If you’re already well-established in a practice area, have a book of business, contacts in the community etc. that number could be much higher.

But what if you waste the first five years of your practice trying to teach yourself how to start, market & manage the business?  That could easily cost you half of your time, energy, enthusiasm and creativity, couldn’t it?

Translate that into dollars and it’s easy to see why some experts estimate that lawyers who try to teach themselves how to run a law firm vs. pursuing a deliberate plan to acquire these skills could easily be leaving as much as $250,000 or more on the table in terms of opportunity cost.

In a future post I’ll outline the steps I recommend every lawyer takes when starting a law firm.  You can get much more detailed information that space here permits at: www.HowToMANAGEaSmallLawFirm.com