How Difficult Can It be to open a law firm?

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You may have just passed your law exam and don’t know what the future holds for you. On the other hand, you may have been working for a big law firm for several years and have relatively good job security.


Regardless of your situation, you want to strike out on your own and start a law firm yourself. Both of you want to start a law firm for the same reason: you want to be your own boss. You both are also wondering the same thing: do you have what it takes?


Although there will be start-up costs, the greatest cost will be your emotional investment. Stress alone can lead to health issues, which during the initial

start-up phase you can’t afford to take the time required to deal with them.


You will be putting in long hours — not only at first, but later when you have a deposition due or need to prepare for trial. Job security will be totally on you, and income is sure to be low at first, which can weigh heavily on you, especially if you have a family or education loans.


It is very likely that there will be no money coming in to pay yourself a salary for some time. It typically takes from three to five years for an attorney’s business to break even. However, the encouraging news is that your own law office could be paying you a six-figure salary at the end of those years, but it won’t be an easy three to five years.


If you have been employed with a law firm, then you probably have an idea of what is involved in the daily operation of a law firm, although you may not know what it takes to start one from scratch. Of course, if you are a new law school graduate, you probably have very little knowledge of what is involved.


Following is a list of some items you will want to concentrate on.


  • Select a niche — It would be impossible for you to practice the one hundred-plus areas of law that exist today. From administrative law to international law to water law, with highly specialized niches like biotechnology law, cryptography law, and nationality law, your office should become proficient at practicing one of them.


  • Launch a law office website or law blog — These internet tools serve as another way to draw attention to your law office and to answer potential clients’ questions.

Prepare for a paperless office – The necessary software and technology will give clients state-of-the-art service.

  • Develop various plans – In today’s internet savvy world, a marketing plan is not enough. You will also need social media plan and networking plans.


  • Purchase malpractice insurance — Malpractice insurance will typically pay for your defense, plus any monetary fines.


  • Formulate a billing structure – Lawyers bill by the hour plus a various other ways: contingency fees, retainers, fixed fees, and estimated value.


  • Determine if you will need a physical office or a virtual law office.

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