So you have decided that starting your own law firm is your next step. To increase your chances of success, you must plan out as many details as possible beforehand. Although no checklist will address all of the needs for starting your own law firm because every firm is different and has unique facets to take into account, this is an excellent place to begin! Grab a pen and paper (or open a word document) to take notes from this starting a law firm checklist.
Starting a Law Firm Checklist
Step 1: Name It!
Choose a strong name that you want to be identified with your practice. Most traditional practices pick a name of the attorneys primarily involved. You may go this avenue or perhaps you want something else that will distinguish your firm from others. Another option is to choose a name that centers around the area of practice that you hope to work in.
Step 2: Find a Good Location
You may choose to work from home in the early days of your practice. This is okay but isn’t ideal for meeting with clients and isn’t a great long term option, unless you decide that a virtual law office is the way you want to go. You want to ensure that your new office will be comfortable and may want to consider sharing a space with another lawyer. This can help to ease any financial burdens you may face in the early days (even those that are unexpected).
Step 3: Website
As it is important to choose a memorable name for your firm, so it is with a website name. You need one that is easy to remember. Don’t include strange characters or extra letters.
Step 4: Office Equipment
If you plan to have clients meet you at your office, you will need some extra chairs along with your desk and your chair. Other furniture to house your electronics may be helpful. A fax machine, computer, printer/scanner/copier and phone system are also good things to have. Don’t forget a file cabinet or two!
Step 5: Office Supplies
Your office, whether at home or at a separate structure, will need office equipment. Be sure to have the following on hand:
- Pens and pencils
- 3 hole punch
- Sticky notes
- File folders
Step 6: Accounting System
An accounting system is highly important for any self-employed individual. Consider an accounting software or outsourcing your accounting needs to an accountant.
Step 7: Time Tracking and Billing
Be sure to set up a system for time tracking and billing. Oftentimes you can find programs that incorporate time tracking, billing and accounting in one. Or perhaps you prefer keeping things separate. Whichever works for you is great.
You should also take time to prepare a budget, obtain insurance and work on your business plan (which we will address later). Determine a marketing and advertising plan as well and you will be on your way to starting your own law firm with this easy starting a law firm checklist!