Starting Your Own Law Firm
Starting your own business can be simultaneously exciting and nerve-racking and requires plenty of planning. We’ll walk you through all the essential steps to launching a successful law firm in the Digital Age.
Choose your practice area
When choosing an area of law to practice, consider your ideal work environment and what will provide you with a rewarding and long-lasting career.
Name your firm
Whether you are starting on your own or with a partner, there are a variety of possible naming scenarios for your business. Generally, the name of an owner or partner must be included in the firm’s title.
Obtain the necessary licenses and permits
Determine if your state requires you to establish your firm as a business entity and which type of entity you qualify for:
- 1. Sole Proprietorship
2. General Partnership
3. Limited Liability Partnership
4. Professional Service Corporation/Professional Association
5. Professional Limited Liability Company
Open bank + trust accounts
Ensure your business accounts are set up correctly to start accepting payments. This includes ensuring you’ve lined up an attorney trust account and operating account and securing malpractice insurance.
- Operating Account
Non-IOLTA Trust Account
Sign up for business insurance
Protect your firm’s success by verifying that you’re adequately insured. Check your state’s rules on professional liability coverage and decide if you will be better protected by having professional liability insurance in the event of a claim.
Calculate costs + business expenses
Every lawyer needs to know how much income will be required to successfully cover the costs of running a practice. It’s helpful to consider these variables:
- Hourly rate/daily income
Personal budget/living costs
Establish your hourly rate
Many attorneys use a budget based on monthly expenses. Divide your total costs by the number of billable hours you can reasonably work each week to get a baseline of the effective rate you’ll charge for your services.
Find an office/workspace
Decide on whether you’d like to set up a traditional brick-and-mortar office or run your practice entirely online from your home office —whichever best suits your firm’s and your clients’ needs.
Adopt secure legal software
Today’s law firms can be far more productive (and profitable) with modern technology, such as timekeeping, payment processing, and practice management software solutions.
Choose the right payment processor
It’s essential to choose a payment processor that prioritizes your needs and ensures your payments are reliable, secure, and designed specifically for the legal industry - like LawPay.
Build a website
When creating a website, think about who your target audience is and what prospective clients are looking for. Once you’re ready to build your site, there are many do-it-yourself options, or you can hire a marketing agency to build it for you.
Invest in digital marketing
The internet has drastically changed the way lawyers can market their services. In addition to having a website, you’ll also want to maintain a social media presence to stay on the radar with potential clients.
Get involved with your State, Local, and Specialty Bars
Networking is a great way to garner name recognition for your practice. Consider getting involved with your state bar associations and local and specialty bar groups. Aligning yourself with reputable associations can instill a prospective client’s confidence in your practice.
LawPay is proud to be a member benefit of the American Bar Association. Learn more about the benefits of our secure online payment solution at lawpay.com/aba.
Download your copy of our Going Off on Your Own Checklist here.
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