It’s the dream of everyone who graduates from law school to someday work in a law firm. After gaining experience and gaining insight into the practice, it almost becomes inevitable to contemplate starting your own practice. Well, starting a law firm is not for the faint-hearted. Sometimes it comes off as a scary thought, but as this article will show, there is nothing to be afraid of.
Ignore the Naysayers
The minute you tell anyone that you’re thinking of how to start a law firm, one thing is real; there will be discouragers. Some will laugh at you. Some will actually tell you to dream on. Some will be envious, and they will enjoy putting you down. Others will tell you that you’re not capable of that. Some will dismiss you as fast as you told them.
All in all, do not tolerate such naysayers. All it takes is believing in yourself. If you take their words seriously, you’ll only limit yourself. This is some practical advice.
Have a Plan on How to Start a Law Firm
Every successful ordeal came from the same origin; a plan. A plan is the commencing point of any action. So it makes practical value to devise a plan. A plan on how to start a law firm is not just any basic plan. It should encompass crucial aspects such as:
- The financials
- Situational analysis
- SWOT analysis
- Market analysis
- Competitive Advantage
- Start Up Costs
- Legal requirements
In essence, you should have a plan that has substance, probably preserved in writing. Once you have this plan, you will be geared to action to actualize it.
Choose Your Niche
The law practice market tends to be very competitive. This is true, especially when you decide to take the general practice route. Many law firms out there are just general practitioners hence adding on to this bandwagon will do more harm than good. The trick is specializing in a certain form of law, say, family law, business law, copyright law, or criminal law. This will make you focus exclusively on the specific form of law, and all your energies and resources will be directed to enhancing the client’s experience.
The positive implication of choosing one or at most two focus areas is that you’ll greatly minimize the competition. If you’re just a general practitioner, you’ll almost bein competition with everyone. That will make it hard for you to even build referrals.
When you decide on which niche area to focus on, make plans on how to build capacity in that area.
I would like to give an illustration. Let’s say you light up a candle in a dark room with the ultimate objective of lighting up the whole room. Would you place the candle below a table? Definitely not. If at all your motive is to light the whole room up, the best and most rational thing to do is to place it on the table or better yet, in an elevated position so that the whole room is lit.
In the same light, if you have the ambition of starting a law firm, everyone must know. Tell everyone you meet that you intend to start a law firm. Go to practicing lawyers, specifically those in your area of specialty; have a chat over lunch and let them know your plans. Ask them for advice and how they got started. Later on, when you’ve actually started your law firm, call them up and ask them to send you some work. You’ll be surprised at how swiftly they will respond. This is how you build referrals.
Another way is getting to network with practitioners who are not in your niche area. The majority of your referrals will be from them. If you have a friend who’s into criminal law while you’re a business lawyer, whenever the client of your buddy has clients that need the services of a business lawyer, guess who they will refer them to?
Contemporary lawyers even go ahead to give incentive to referrals by paying a handsome referral fee after a successful referral.
Join an Umbrella body and Listservs
When it comes to dictating trends, collective bargaining and forming unified fronts, umbrella bodies and listservs are the best picks. The positive value of joining such organizations is that you’ll benefit from the mentorship that the community gives to members. Now that you’re a newbie in the legal field, you are better placed to benefit from the practical advice.
You can also get a co-associate in these forums. It’s a good move to have a co-counsel when you’re green in the field. You will benefit first hand from their experience. You will also avoid many costly rookie mistakes.
Market Yourself with Excellent Work Output
Yes, it’s true that client’s don’t give a damn about your Law school GPA. In fact, most lawyers in the field say that not even a single time did a client bring the conversation of their law school performance to the table. Well, this is not an argument in disfavor of working hard in law school and getting impressive GPAs. The premise of this point is that what matters is your work output. The value of your work product is what has utility to the clients. The people who dwell on such things as GPAs are other lawyers like you who are just keen on filling up their egos when the conversation comes up.
You will be even surprised that no client cares about your age. But you will notice that other lawyers will try to bring it up so that they can bully their fellow mates.
However, what will get you ahead in the business is your work output. Focus on always giving excellent work. I cannot emphasize this enough!
The above are just some of the essentials on how to start a law firm. The points considered are in no way comprehensive; network, talk to people with established law firms, always be ready to learn. This way, you might just end up with a very successful law firm of your own!