Let’s get this out there, trying to start a law firm straight out of law school isn’t something that every new lawyer is going to be able to do. Some people will tell you it’s crazy, but it is possible. Here is a list of some of the most important things to you should do when you want to start a law firm.
1. Ignore any negativity people may say
There’s a very good reason why this tip is at the top of our list. 98% of the people you meet in law school already have it in their heads that you can’t do it. You have to ignore them. There are plenty of lawyers who are pessimists by nature and will jump all over the chance to tell someone that they aren’t good enough to do something. They’ve never tried and now’s your chance to show them you rock.
2. Plan ahead
If you are trying to start a law firm, you are going to have a very detailed plan of how you’re going to do it. You don’t want to cut corners! This means you need to have all the financials mapped out, think about market analysis, mission statement, and competitive advantages and so much more. Ideally, you’ll want to know how much money you’re going to need to start a law firm in your area as well as how much money you’d need to earn in that first year to just break even.
3. Choose one area of law
You don’t want to be one of those firms that take a little bit of this and a little bit of that. You should focus your energy on one area of law and excel at it. If you try to do everything, you aren’t going to be good at anything. Also, you’ll look like a competitor to everyone, and it will be extremely difficult to build a referral network. Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s important to get some experience in that area of law before opening up shop.
4. Pick the right area of law
Some areas of law are going to be harder to break into than others. For example, it’s going to be a lot more challenging to get a Fortune 500 company to sign on as a client if you’re just starting out. Good areas for those just opening their firm would be personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, employment law and family law. These clients aren’t picky—they just want a compassionate lawyer who will listen to them, believe in their case, and help them as much as they can.
5. Build a referral network
No matter where you are or what you’re doing, network! Networking is going to be your bread and butter when it comes to getting referrals. You can start by taking out practicing lawyers in your specified area to lunch and pick their brain. Ask them where they get clients and how to get your firm out there. You also will want to network with people outside of your practice because you can work together. For example, a personal injury lawyer doesn’t do criminal law, but a few of their clients may have criminal legal problems. See where we’re getting at here? If you want your law firm to thrive, you have to work the referrals and networking to your favor.