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As a new lawyer putting out your shingle, you will no doubt be operating with limited resources. Being able to provide quality service and practice frugality at the same time can be a challenge.
Being frugal means navigating a balancing act between what you want and what you need. Some things can be done at low cost, while for others you would be wise to spend a little more. First and foremost, you need to assess what you need against what you want. This means computers, copiers, scanners, software systems for practice management and time, billing and accounting functions, and a file management system.
Be Productive and Save Time and Money
You are going to be doing a lot of research for clients. One way to make this as efficient as possible is to use a service. Fastcase is one key research tool that gives you the complete law library for the American legal system. You can also try Casemaker, LoisLaw, or FindLaw. Another free resource is the U.S. Print Office, where every case number is listed for every federal case.
For handling and sharing files, take advantage of Google, namely with free Google Docs and Google Drive. These enable you to not only share documents with others easily, you can store them for free up to a certain level.
Copiers and scanners are another piece of equipment you are probably going to need. Again, do some simple research to find reliable machines that do the job simply and efficiently. Don’t bother with a fax machine, as you can fax online when needed.
Solo practitioners can benefit with efficient cloud-based systems for keeping track of billing and time. You will be able to access the information from anywhere, which will also save time and money. If you don’t want a cloud-based system, you can invest in software. You will either pay a monthly fee for a cloud service or incur the cost of the software if you purchase it. Keep in mind that whatever you choose, you will have to stick with the one you choose as opposed to going back and forth between different programs. They are not set up to be compatible with each other.
Start simple. Don’t be distracted by things you don’t need. Build your practice brick by brick so you have a strong foundation that will support you for years to come.