Fresh Start: Three Things to Do Before You Start a Law Firm

Lawyers start their own law firms for any number of reasons.  There isn’t a wrong one. Despite that, most lawyers starting law firms tend to make the same mistakes.

So, if it’s time for you to start your own law firm, good for you.  And, these are three things you should figure out now, so you don’t get caught short resolving them later.

Create a Niche.  It’s really hard to market a law firm if you’re trying to sell ‘general practice’ legal services.  You can’t sell everything.  So focus down, create a niche, and build on it.  In a hypercompetitive environment, like small law, you need every single edge you can get; and, the most obvious differentiation point for a law firm is to drill down to specific practice areas.  This process also has the added benefit of opening you up to referrals from law firms focused on complementary practice areas.

Decide What to Charge.  If you decide that your pricing will be ad hoc, you’re dead in the water.  In the first place, patchwork pricing is difficult to manage.  It’s also likely that you will negotiate down every time you have a potential client who challenges you on your rate — which means that you’re gonna be charging even less than most startup lawyers charge (which is already way too low).  And, once word gets around that you’re willing and able to discount your services, everybody you talk to is going to expect cut-rate legal services.  Create (and stick to) a price sheet.

Figure Out Where You’re Going to Work.  Whether or not you utilize office space is going to set the edge of your budget.  Whether you require an office lease or a virtual office arrangement, that will likely be the most expensive recurring outlay you make as a new business owner.  So, it’s important to decide where you want to work, even if it’s a home office — because you can’t set a budget without that information.  And, if you can’t set a budget, it’s difficult to establish pricing, and to create revenue projections from there.

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If you need a push to get started, we can help.

The Wyoming State Bar offers free law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting.  To request a consult, visit the Wyoming State Bar’s law practice management page, and start running your law firm like a business.

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