A Guide to Opening a Law Practice (Part 1 of 4)
This is Part 1 of a Four-Part Series...

Does It Really Make Sense to Open Your Own Practice?

Before you start the ball rolling to open your own practice, you’ll need to know whether it’s truly going to be worth your while. The first important thing to understand about opening your own practice is that, when you do, you’ll no longer be just a lawyer. You’ll also be a business owner.

This means that your concerns and responsibilities will be greater than if you were simply an employee of an existing company. Opening your own practice requires the right skills, resources, and attitude. The most successful business owners are competitive, well-organized self-starters that have a passion for leadership and, in many cases, a pension for risk-taking.

It will be helpful to understand the type of energy you’ll bring to the table, how you go about solving complex problems, and what systems you’ll put in place to plan ahead and stay organized. Time is one of the most precious resources for any business owner, so you’ll have to assess whether competing commitments will hinder your ability to run a successful law practice.

How to Define Your Practice

Deciding to open your own practice requires that you choose a specific area of law to practice. You’ll also need to identify a specific city or region where you’d like to target your legal services. Examining your target client will also help you understand whom exactly you’re trying to serve.

At first, it can be helpful to offer a wide-range of services to a broader client base. However, your practice is likely to evolve over time, and you may find it lucrative to concentrate your services on a specific area of law or for a specific type of client. Understanding your target client base, type and scope of services, and location of services is vital to running an organized, effective law practice.

Finding a Comfortable ‘Home Base’

Selecting an office space can be an exhausting process. Cost, size, location relative to target market, desired type of practice, and proximity to your living area all factor in when choosing an office. You’ll need to decide whether it is more cost effective to operate out of a home office, or whether it makes the most sense to purchase, share, or lease office space.

It is also important to think about whether you’re looking for a space that is suitable for the long-term, or simply for the first year or two of your practice. If you plan to change office spaces within the first few years of opening your practice, you should also consider the cost of relocating once you’re established.

Computer Systems For Your Practice

Determining the computer systems and software that will be best for your practice requires consideration of the specific tasks that you will perform. This includes all tasks that will take place from initial contact with a prospective client to the closing of that client’s file.

You must ensure that your computer systems meet any and all obligations required under the Rules of Professional Conduct and it can be helpful to enlist the services of an information technology or information systems specialist to make sure you’re making the most effective decision for your practice.

We will continue examining the many consideration when opening a law practice next month, in Part 2 of this 4-part series.

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Posted by: DSR
Monday, April 3, 2017
Tag: Legal
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