Making It On Your Own: Starting Up Your Own Firm

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Most new lawyers, after passing their bar exam and getting through law school, are eager to start practicing right away. While many budding lawyers are excited to join a firm, others want to start their own. If you are a new lawyer, you’ve worked hard, no one will argue that fact. Follow your heart and go with what you want to do. Besides, no one’s gonna tell you what to do, you’re a lawyer after all.

Before Starting Up a Firm on Your Own

It’s important to brainstorm and make a long list of your ideal firm. Don’t forget that even though you can do whatever you set your mind to, all of those “ideals” might not fall into place immediately. Things to consider before you start up your own law firm:

  • It might not be perfect
  • It will be a financial investment
  • Be prepared for the unexpected
  • You must be patient
  • Building a client base will take some time
  • You might make a mistake or a few

All this said, do not give up. Do not let someone tell you it’s a bad idea. Keep reading.

What kind of firm do you want? Will you practice civil law or criminal law? How do you plan on making your practice known? Do you have the money to start up a firm right now?

Saving Up to Start

Even if you have the perfect place picked out, maybe a small historic store front in a downtown area, you need to keep in mind that your start up costs will be the most expensive. If you don’t have any money saved up, it might be wise to put money aside (experts say about six months or so) and then resume the project. Even if you don’t have the money right away, you should start networking immediately, build a website, and even join organizations; all of these things will help you get exposure (these are relatively inexpensive). Additionally, find lawyers like you, who can offer support and wisdom during this new venture.

To Do List: Expenses

Your next step is to figure out monthly expenditures. Making a list, even with ballpark figures, will give you a realistic picture of your future and can help you determine how much you should charge your clients. Some expenses to consider may include, but are not limited to:

  • Rent
  • Phone/Internet/Marketing/Website
  • Staff salaries
  • Insurance
  • Supplies
  • Accounting
  • Continuing Education classes
  • Ongoing Legal Library expenses

The list can goes on, depending on what you need and want. Either way create a budget for your firm before making any final decisions. Realistically, you can be prepared to pay thousands of dollars a month.

Can’t I Just Start and See Where it Takes Me?

Sure you can. You can do whatever you want. You could set up a space in your basement, buy a surplus of legal notepads, set up a legal library near the washer and dryer, and buy a used office set off of Craigslist. However, this might be an uncomfortable situation and it might end up costing you more money in the long run. Also, clients might not be willing to pay the fee you want to charge for such “casual” services. Chances are you wouldn’t have a large following either.

Although you are ready to jump in and get to work immediately, take a little time to plan and build your own firm. You’ve worked hard, you deserve to have a place you’re proud to call your own.

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