David E. 4m 595
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
There are nearly 1.34 million lawyers in America, according to the American Bar Association as of May 2018. Most of these lawyers, around 74%, are in private practice. The remainder of the population work in government, private industries and associations, and in the education sector. The exciting part is that many, around 48%, have a solo practice. If you’re thinking of leaving your firm or the government to join the 48%, here’s what you need to know before you make your move:
Understanding What Solo Practice Means
The essence of starting a solo practice is to treat it as a business. No department’s going to hand you folders of cases to handle. You are going to have to seek your clients on your own or make them come to you by doing your advertising. Whether you will focus on becoming a personal injury attorney in Everett or a real estate lawyer in Kent, part of your efforts will focus on acquiring contacts.
You need to be aware of events, like conferences and seminars, to stay connected with people who can provide you with leads.
Start with a Business Plan
You need to treat this adventure of yours like you would when starting any other business. So your first step should be to draft a business plan. Draw insights from your current experience. What kind of law practice do you think can be far-reaching for you, based on your knowledge and expertise? You need to identify your overall strategy, your marketing campaigns, and your financial strategy. Include in your plan how you intend to fund your practice. Will you be getting a loan? Lay this out precisely in your business plan.
Deciding on Your Office Location
This is one of the main challenges when going solo. Your resources, your values, and your marketing efforts dictate the location of your office. If you aim to impress based on your image, you will look for an office in the beautiful part of town, and you want your office to be professional and welcoming to guests. If resources are an issue, you can choose to co-share a place or lease just a small room. Many businesses are now operating under a co-working space scheme. Perhaps you can consider this as an initial phase of your solo practice.
Bear in mind that a big chunk of your overhead cost will go to leasing space.
Get the Word Out
Your marketing strategy is going to play a crucial role in building and sustaining your solo law practice. Start by creating your website. Before you do, your website must reflect the services that you have outlined in your business plan. Do some research and see how sites differ from each other, depending on the practice. Those focusing on family law will be different from those dealing with international trade or immigration.
Dig into your bag of tricks and see if you can call in a favor from a friend who’s a web designer to do this for free. But creating websites today are already quite affordable.
What’s in a Name?
A lot. This is the business card splashed on your front door. What you need to remember is that there are rules regarding naming your law office. “Roberto Calderon Law Offices” is not allowed if you only have one office.
You need to get insurance to protect you from a malpractice suit. You need to be active in social media. There’s perhaps a dozen more at least to add to this list. But the preceding discussion should help in your deliberation about going solo as a lawyer.