Starting your own firm may sound daunting, but it may be the most rewarding experience of your legal career. The decision to start your own firm is a significant decision that will impact you and your career for the rest of your life. Due to the profound implications, it is crucial to consider both the pros and the cons in establishing in your own practice.
Honestly speaking, the odds are against you, but the odds don’t indicate that it is impossible to succeed with your own practice. With FirmVO, you can hit the ground running. The process of starting a practice is relatively simple. The necessary steps are as follows:
- Your law firm needs a name. Most often, firm founders use the names of the starting members. However, this traditional practice doesn’t mean you can’t choose a unique name for your firm. Utilizing a name relating to the firm’s practice area is also a common method. It’s important to be strategic in your name selection as your name will distinguish your firm among other firms.
- Your firm can operate out of your home, a brick-and-mortar office, or can be completely virtual. Determining your practice setting will depend on what’s most financially viable for you and what makes most sense for your clients. A virtual office is probably the best decision for an attorney just starting out as a lawyer or an attorney just starting on their own as it lessens the financial impact. For example, with a company like FirmVO, you can pay as you grow. As you’re just starting out, you don’t have to worry about the hassle of office design, IT, staff, etc. Instead of a traditional office, you can save money and build credibility with a prestigious virtual office like FirmVO. All of our offices are located in the top locations in major cities.
- Choose a practice area or areas in your firm will provide services. Specializing in particular areas will attract the right type of clients. Specialization will also serve as a way to pre-screen referrals from other lawyers and referral organizations.
- Get a local phone number. Potential clients want to know that you are accessible. All of our plans include a local phone number that is managed on a cloud dashboard. Calls are forwarded to the phone of your choice. With this process, you don’t have to worry about using your personal cell phone. The system notifies you of a missed call and has a separate voicemail box.
- Secure the necessary permits, licenses, and federal identification number to legally recognized. Check with your local state laws to determine how to secure permits and licenses. Each legal structure has advantages and disadvantages in terms of liability, tax treatment, and operation. A law firm can be a corporation, limited liability company, subchapter S corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship. What’s best for your practice will depend on the number of owners, value of limited liability protection, anticipated earnings, organization, and future goals.
- Delegate your caseload by hiring staff. Hiring assistants, paralegals, and secretaries can be draining. It takes a lot of time and money to source, screen, interview, and hire candidates to fill positions. FirmVO can simplify the staffing process by providing experienced, vetted virtual receptionists, assistants and paralegals at a fraction of the cost.
- Protect your firm with malpractice insurance. While most states don’t require attorneys to carry malpractice insurance, it’s a good idea to have a policy to protect against the risk of a lawsuit. Malpractice lawsuits are typically extremely costly in regards to damages and defenses costs. FirmVO has partnered with a top insurance company to provide legal malpractice insurance to its firms.
- Marketing, marketing, marketing! Being the new kid on the block, you need to use various marketing tools to boost your image. There are a number of ways to market your firm in order to establish its place in the legal community. Marketing can include: a website, letterhead, business cards, membership in local bar associations, logo, branding materials, and more. FirmVO offers website development, logo design, and business cards.
- Keep up with the law. Attorneys are required to stay abreast of the current state of the law. While CLE requirements differ by jurisdiction, a significant number of hours are required. FirmVO offers free (yes, free) CLE courses. We offer over 1,200 hours of CLE courses that educate attorneys on the latest legal updates.
For additional resources to help start your own practice, consult your local bar association or visit the FirmVO site. Good luck!