You went to law school and graduated with your Juris Doctor. You went to work for a law firm and gained some valuable experience. You’re so passionate about the law that you want to do more, so you decided to open your own law firm. Before anyone embarks on this path, they must do the following eleven things first:
Talk to the Right People.
People usually tell their friends, other lawyers in their offices, or their family members that they want to start their own law firms, but these people will all say that you shouldn’t do it. Most likely, they never tried to start their own businesses before. You are at a point where you are ready to start your own firm because you are talented, and you work hard. These qualities are going to help you see success in your own firm.
Rather than listen to someone without the wherewithal to make a business work, ask other lawyers in private practice what you should do. Ask them to join you for dinner and then ask them all about opening a law firm. Most people are going to be very happy to help you. Another place to find guidance is at the book store or online at the bar associations.
Focus on One Area of the Law.
Opening a new firm can often mean that you want everyone to come through your doors, and you can do this by refusing to specialize in one area. This isn’t a good idea. It is better to choose one or two specialties. When you do this, you will become an expert in a shorter period of time, and you will gain a positive reputation amongst the attorneys and your clients.
The area that you choose must be of interest to you. You must have experience in it, and it must further your business goals. For example, you may have worked in a business law firm when you first graduated from law school. That experience would have given you contacts in business law and a good reputation that you can use to launch your own firm. If you don’t have this experience, it would be easier to start a law firm in personal injury, employment law, family law, criminal defense or bankruptcy. Law firms in these areas of the law require that you are competent rather than experienced.
Create a Business Plan.
Now that you have a practice area, you can create a business plan. First, you have to choose a name for your practice. Most people use the names of the attorneys, but you can also choose a name that describes your area of practice. Make sure that it is a name that is very different from your competition. You will also want to ensure that you can get the domain name for your website.
The next thing you will need to do is find the perfect location. You don’t have to have an office in a building to have a law firm these days. The current technology allows you to have a virtual office. If you need a physical space, you could open a home office, or you could share a space with other attorneys.
The last thing you have to do is select a startup structure. You have options here. Your new law firm can be for one person or a partnership. One option is a limited liability partnership or even a limited company. They are each very different, and there are different things that are good and bad about all of them. You will need to choose carefully to ensure that the one you eventually select will serve all of your needs.
Form a Budget.
Before you can start, you must know how much money you will need for staff salaries, software licensing, office supplies, office equipment, computers and rent. Another important figure is the amount of money that you believe that you will make during your first year. Then, determine how much you may be able to make throughout the rest of your time in practice. Ask yourself if you can support your firm while times are hard. Maybe, it would be a good idea to apply for a small business loan. If you are unsure of this area of your business, you may contact a financial advisor for some good advice.
Organize the Firm’s Paperwork.
You will need several documents before you can think about opening a law firm. These include a federal Employer Identification Number or EIN. You will also need a professional liability insurance policy. You may also need permits and a business license, but this will depend on where you intend to practice.
Build a Website.
Your law firm is going to need a professional website. If you don’t have one, you will not be seen as credible within the crowd. It is also the first place that many people will look to find out anything about you. It describes your area of practice and lets potential clients learn about you. For example, your website will tell people how to contact you, what your business hours are and the type of law your firm practices.
Make Your Social Media Presence Grow.
It would be a mistake not to get on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These social media websites will help you attract people to your firm and build brand awareness. It will even help you narrow your audience down to the target that you want to attract.
Take Time to Network.
Now that you have a business plan, you can think about accepting clients. That means that you must take the time to network. The first thing you will want to do is send personal notes to the attorneys you spoke to about opening your firm. These notes will announce your new firm. Take the opportunity to take these people out to dinner one more time. This is also an opportunity to hand them your business cards. Don’t forget to get to know other attorneys as well. These are the people you will want to drop in on while they are in their offices. You can tell them that you want to gain experience. They will remember you when they need to refer a client to a colleague. For example, if you are acquainted with someone in a criminal specialty, she might refer a client to you if she is too busy to take on another case. If another lawyer has had a client for a long time, he may refer this client to you when the client needs the services of a bankruptcy attorney.
It will depend on your jurisdiction, but you may be able to find a referral service that is reputable. The local bar associations have these referral services, and many lawyers obtain clients by using them. Other ways to become known as a new lawyer is to volunteer, do charity work and attend events that the bar association hosts.
Don’t Expect a Lot.
Don’t expect that you are going to be asked to argue before the Supreme Court the first year that you open your practice. It’s not possible that a suspect in a well-known murder will hire your law firm. The victims of an environmental disaster are also not likely to be referred to you at this time. First, not many lawyers are lucky enough to have cases such as these ever in their careers. Second, many years may pass before you can hope to be a part of these kinds of cases.
Your first days in practice should be spent finding clients, expanding upon your legal experience and building an enviable reputation. The size of the case doesn’t matter because each case has something valuable for you to learn. Stay humble, and make sure that you work as hard as you can. Then, you will end up exactly where you want to be.
Cultivate Good Communications Skills.
It is extremely important for attorneys to make sure that their clients feel heard. It is also your duty to ensure that they thoroughly understand all of their options. Your clients must have realistic expectations for the outcome of their cases. The best plan is to promise as little as possible while you are working overtime to deliver your best.
Always Remain Confident.
Opening your own law firm is a great accomplishment, so be confident! The grades you received in law school don’t matter now. It’s time to get the best results for your clients, gain their trust and work hard along the way. If you keep that in mind, your career will succeed, and it will be long too.About Jeremy Goldstein
Jeremy L. Goldstein has provided integral legal counsel for large corporate merger and acquisition cases for over a decade. He has earned the reputation as being one of the best executive compensation lawyers in the country. He is a member of the Bar Association in the state of New York.
Mr. Goldstein has been a lawyer in New York City for over 20 years. He is a co-founder and a partner at Jeremy L. Goldstein & Associates. The law firm’s offices are located in New York City. He has clients throughout the country. The majority of Jeremy‘s clients are high ranking executives who lead major corporations through a wide range of corporate transformations and other complex matters.
Jeremy runs his firm in ways that are distinctly different from many other successful law practice. He does not believe in taking on unlimited cases that would result in him being too busy to properly serve his clients. Instead, he is readily available to his clients anytime they need him. He builds a mutual trust with them that frequently results in a long-lasting friendship, and it is vitally important to Jeremy that he can always be there for his friends and colleagues.
Jeremy Goldstein holds a J.D. from the NYU School of Law. After he completed law school, he went to work as an attorney for a Manhattan law firm. He had a highly successful tenure there before pursuing his dream to own his own company. Jeremy Goldstein soon learned that the best way to build his business would be through networking, and he committed himself to every client he earned.
Goldstein is serves on the board of directors of the Fountain House, a charity that has spent seven decades helping adults diagnosed with mental illness to enter society after their diagnoses. Jeremy Goldstein organized a gala in 2019 that was meant to fight the stigma that is attached to mental illness. It was also meant to raise awareness of this issue in the minds of New Yorkers. The reason that mentally ill people become displaced is because they are isolated, but the Fountain House offers them a community where they find a place to live, a place to work and education.
Read more of Jeremy Goldstein’s advice: https://medium.com/@jeremygoldsteinlawyer