Excitement. Anxiety. Uncertainty. Anticipation. These are just a few of the many emotions you may feel if you’re thinking about starting your own law firm. Whether you work for a large firm and are eager to build your own legal team or you’re an ambitious new law school graduate who wants to run your own business, it’s natural to wonder if you have what it takes to start and grow a successful law firm.
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to predict precisely how your law firm will fare if you decide to start one. But while you may lack a crystal ball, there are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine whether starting a law firm is the right decision. Here are a few to consider:
- Do you have the time and energy to build a firm? Building a great law firm can be exhausting and there are no shortcuts to success.
- Are you committed to leading a team of people? Owning a law practice means the people you hire will turn to you for direction.
- Do you consider yourself to be a patient person? Successful law firms aren’t established overnight. They require months or even years of hard work.
- Are you willing and able to endure a temporary income reduction? When starting a law firm, you can expect a reduction in your billable hours.
- Do you want to run a business? You will need to be prepared and ready to handle the unforeseen problems that may surface.
If you’re ready to devote your time, energy and patience to starting your own law firm, then there is no time like the present to get the ball rolling. Below is a look at the advantages of starting your own practice and some steps to help you put your best foot forward as a law firm owner.
What Are the Benefits of Starting Your Own Law Firm?
Before diving into the necessary steps to start a law firm, it’s helpful to know some of the enticing aspects of building your own practice. Below are five benefits of starting your own law firm.
1) You can control the clients and cases you handle
Of all the advantages of starting your own practice, the ability to control your clients and cases is often the most attractive. You will never again have to depend on an employer to assign cases to you. You can also say goodbye to working nights and weekends in order to keep a managing partner happy. Not only can you choose to accept or decline a case, but you can decide how many cases you wish to take on at any point in time (business conditions notwithstanding).
2) You can make your own hiring decisions
The support staff you hire can make or break your budding law firm. While the task of hiring top talent may sound simple, research shows that 70 percent of employees are not fully committed to their jobs. As the owner and top decision-maker at your law firm, you can use your own screening tools and judgment to select dedicated candidates you feel will be a good fit with your firm.
3) You can practice in areas that appeal to you
When you run your own law firm, it’s up to you to determine the major areas of practice for your firm. Once you nail down your specialty areas, you can customize marketing campaigns to target prospective clients who may need your service. This process is likely a pleasant one for you—especially if you’ve only ever been assigned cases that you found unpalatable or uninteresting.
4) You can establish your own business culture
Every law firm has its unique business culture. Lawyers employed by large firms are typically expected to behave in a way that fits with that firm’s culture, even if it seems antiquated or even harmful.
When you launch your practice, you can develop your own business culture. For instance, you may wish to develop a culture of growth and giving back, or one that encourages an entrepreneurial mindset. As an integral part of your culture, you may also offer paid professional development activities or participate in annual charitable events. It’s up to you.
5) You will feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment
When you start your own law firm, you will join an elite group of American entrepreneurs. Only 16 percent of Americans own their own business, supporting the notion that many Americans lack the courage to hang out their own shingle. By taking the initiative to forge your own path and overcome your fears, you will likely feel a sense of pride.
Starting a Law Firm: It Begins With A Strategy
The path to starting a law firm begins with goals and a clear strategy for success. This phase can seem overwhelming to some lawyers who aren’t sure how to transform their vision into reality. If you’re looking for guidance on organizing your business strategy, you can start by following the six steps below.
Step One: Establish your personal goals
Your personal goals are often critical drivers for your law firm’s success. But articulating what you hope to achieve with your law firm is not always easy. If you need help outlining your goals, the team at Lawyerist suggests asking yourself some questions such as the following:
- What type of people would you like to help?
- What type of work do you enjoy?
- How many hours do you aim to work each week?
- What type of income would you like to have?
Step Two: Develop a clear business vision for your firm
With your personal goals etched clearly in your mind, it’s time to give some thought to your firm’s future. This may seem counterintuitive at first, as you have yet to handle your first case as a solo attorney. However, you do need to establish a sense of direction for your firm.
Step Three: Define your areas of legal expertise
For many lawyers, this is the simplest step to complete. By narrowing your practice areas to reflect your passions and areas of expertise, you will increase your odds of industry success and help create a target market for your new law firm.
Step Four: Establish profit-boosting systems and procedures
Running a successful law firm is impossible without efficient systems and procedures to help your firm remain competitive. If you’re looking for a proven way to optimize your efficiency and profits, you can consider legal process outsourcing.
In a nutshell, this strategy involves using a trusted partner to help with administrative tasks such as answering the phones and converting your leads. For instance, by choosing an experienced legal intake outsourcing partner, you can enjoy the following benefits:
- High-quality administrative support from trained legal intake professionals
- Client calls answered after-hours and on weekends
- Access to overflow phone coverage during peak seasons and holidays
- Money saved on salaries and training costs, as your outsourcing provider covers these costs
Step Five: Select technology based on your workflows
Once you launch your website and begin advertising to potential clients, you will need a means of collecting and organizing client data. Doing this manually is time-consuming and inefficient, and leaves you at increased risk for error. A better alternative is to automate the process by seamlessly transferring client data to customer relationship management or case management software.
How to Grow and Manage A Small Law Firm: Understand Your Business From The Inside-Out
Once your law firm is firing on all cylinders, it’s time to take a long look at your budget and performance metrics. The ultimate goal is to analyze your expenditures and identify any areas where you are overspending or receiving a poor return on your investment. To do this, you will need a strong working knowledge of your revenue and expenses along with a moderate level of comfort working with finances.
While every law firm is unique, it’s common to uncover opportunities for improvement in the hiring and staffing arenas. Once you organize your firm’s shortcomings, it’s time to make some changes to help you maximize leads and increase revenue. Here are three tips to set yourself up for staffing and hiring success:
1) Avoid knee-jerk hiring and firing decisions
Now that you oversee hiring and firing decisions, it’s vital to avoid jumping the gun when your law firm experiences a sudden increase or decrease in activity. For instance, if you specialize in family law and experience an uptick in leads during the second half of 2020, it’s important to consider that divorce rates increased due to COVID-19. Rather than suddenly hiring additional full-time staff to help you take calls and process leads, it’s a better idea to choose legal process outsourcing or fractional support because you will receive equal, or better, support at a fraction of the cost.
2) Outsource your administrative tasks to a legal-only virtual receptionist
Managing a law firm will require you to wear many hats and be in many places. Even if you have a full-time assistant at your office, it can be impossible to respond quickly to every phone call and lead. Outsourcing these administrative tasks to a legal-only virtual receptionist helps ensure that you never miss a phone call and leads never go unanswered. You can build your client base faster and satisfaction with your services will increase.
When choosing an outsourcing partner, it’s important to remember not all virtual receptionist services are created equal. The provider you choose should be experienced, certified and focused exclusively on law firms. As a leading legal-only receptionist service for more than 50 years, Alert Communications offers a level of expertise and professionalism that is second to none.
3) Conduct an in-house audit at least once per year
A commitment to continuous improvement is what makes a successful law firm. As the owner of your law firm, it’s up to you to regularly monitor and improve the procedures, technology and marketing plans you put in place. One of the best ways to do this is to schedule an in-house audit of these areas of your firm. The best time to schedule your audit is at the end of your fiscal year or during your slow season if your business activity fluctuates.
The Bottom Line on Starting a Law Firm
Taking the plunge and establishing your own law firm is one of the most exciting things you will ever do. By following the steps outlined above, you will finally be able to control your cases, make your own hiring decisions and create your own work culture at your firm.
If you’re wondering how you can achieve these steps with a limited startup budget, then a legal call center can help you. As one of America’s most experienced legal call centers, Alert Communications has various affordable solutions to help you attract new clients and turn a profit.
To discover how we can help you manage and grow your law firm, we invite you to reach out to us for a complimentary consultation. During your meeting, you will learn how legal process outsourcing can help you cut your expenses without sacrificing the quality of legal services you deliver. Additionally, you will find out how our intake services help you achieve the following goals:
- Capture more leads
- Boost conversions
- Increase ROI
- Ensure you never miss a client
Contact us today to discover the many ways we can support you in starting your own law firm. From our bilingual intake services to our ability to handle complex mass torts, we look forward to serving as your trusted legal call center.