5 Issues to Consider Before Starting Your Own Law Practice

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5 Issues to Consider Before Starting Your Own Law Practice

You survived law school and passed the bar. You’ve been working at a law firm for some time now, and have recently been feeling vaguely unsatisfied with the job. Or maybe you were laid off and are trying to figure out the next step in your career.

Whatever the reason, you’re considering hanging out your shingle and starting your own firm. But before you pack your briefcase and bolt from your cushy office, there are several important questions to consider.

First, you need to establish whether or not you would be comfortable establishing your own firm. Consider the following:

#1   Are you comfortable taking on multiple roles?

To run your own law firm, you must be more than just a good lawyer. You will have to take on administrative and money-management duties (and personnel management if you decide to expand your practice), in addition to your normal responsibilities. In short, you need to be a business man/woman, as well as a lawyer. If you don’t already have strong business skills, be sure you are willing to learn them.

#2   Which do you value more—security or autonomy?

Opening your own firm involves taking risks. Be prepared to live with uncertainties such as not having a steady paycheck and your company’s expenses exceeding your projections. If these are not situations you think you can live with, then starting your own firm is probably not the best course of action.

However, if you’ve come this far and feel that you have the right personality for starting your own firm, now it’s time to consider your personality and preferences in order to determine what kind of firm to start.

 #3   Are you a lone wolf or a team player?

Knowing what kind of work environment in which you work best will help you decide whether to be a sole practitioner or to bring others into the practice. If you thrive off of the energy of others and prefer a team approach, enlist others to join you. If you prefer to work on your own, a solo practice may be the way to go. Tailor the company to your strengths, and it will be more likely to succeed.

Personality traits aren’t the only thing to consider in the matter of starting your own firm. You also have to think about the following more practical considerations:

#4   Do you have the money?

If you do not have money saved, be ready to borrow. This may be with a line of credit or with a credit card. In addition, you will want to keep overhead costs as low as possible—it may be tempting to rent a nice office with a view and hire a lot of staff right off the bat, but if you can work out of your home or find another low-cost option and function with no or only a few staff members initially, you will reduce your overhead significantly. Most businesses fail because they don’t have enough money to get through the first year, so be realistic about what you can afford.

#5   Do you have the experience?

One thing that will help your business succeed is having experience in a specific field. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert, but things will likely go more smoothly if you have a level of experience and expertise that allows you to feel comfortable fielding any question a prospective client might have. If you are fresh out of law school or still very new to the area of law in which you want to practice, you may want to consider waiting a year or two (or more) before starting your own firm.

If you decide that opening your own practice IS the right move, having the right technology will help ensure success. JurisDOC can help your practice run more smoothly with our legal document assembly software that makes it easier and faster for law firms to generate pleadings and other legal documents. Priced at only $50/month per user, JurisDOC delivers a quick return on investment and frees you to focus on clients, not paperwork.

We’re so sure that you’ll find JurisDOC useful that we offer a free trial. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can start saving time and money.


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How Law Firms Hire for Success

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Category : Law Firm Management

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” I can think of many situations that old adage applies to, including the process of successfully building and maintaining a staff for a small law firm.

As a lawyer, you understand the process of research and negotiation to arrive at a favorable outcome for your clients. As a business owner, you need to apply the same techniques to develop team of lawyers and support staff to keep your office running smoothly.

Hire Lawyers with Hearts
When hiring for junior associate positions, you may assume GPAs and alma maters matter most, but that thinking is out of date across many industries. What’s become just as important are “soft skills,” or emotional intelligence capabilities, which are not taught – at least, certainly not in the school I attended. For a fellow lawyer, qualities like resilience, leadership, and empathy ensure a level of dedication to the firm and its clients.

Attorneys, like the rest of the human race, have all different kinds of personalities. Some possess a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and others feel most fulfilled working as part of a group. Since the hiring process for small businesses is expensive, make sure the lawyers you interview are the right “fit” for your business culture and will contribute to the overall atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual support.

Just as a football team comprised solely of quarterbacks will not win the Super Bowl, a team of lawyers with identical traits will not win the most clients. Understanding the unique attributes of your firm’s associates and hiring someone new, who brings something different to the table, allows you to serve the most diversified clientele.

Hire Staff with Smarts
You might not want to believe this, but there IS such a thing as “too many lawyers.” If your small firm doesn’t have a strong support staff keeping up with research and office management responsibilities, you can’t provide quality services to your clients.

Hiring paralegals, assistants, and office managers of the highest caliber requires looking beyond resumes. Folks who are adaptable, communicate effectively, and are genuinely interested in the law make the best employees. Remember, you are investing more than just a salary in a new hire. You are spending time, providing training, and allowing access to your firm’s confidential documents – make sure the fit is right.

Today’s small business must adapt and change to industry trends; it is critical to any company’s success. Today’s small law firm relies more heavily on emerging technologies designed to expedite tasks and cut costs. Your support staff needs to develop and sustain these capabilities. They should feel comfortable using legal form software and customer relationship management tools. Hiring staff who are capable, willing, and eager to keep up with new technologies is as important as implementing them in the first place.

Hire Teams Who Start
When choosing both lawyers and staff, you want a team that leans forward. You don’t want a group who just waits around until they’re told what to do. Find people who take initiative, work collaboratively, and think innovatively. This is the team who will propel your firm to the next level.

Above all, create a cohesive workplace of associates and staff who are committed to your company ethics, vision, and culture. This takes a bit of work, but, the pay-off is worth it: a team of trustworthy, adaptable, and client-focused professionals who deliver expertise, confidence, and success.

Implementing document assembly software and training staff to use it is one way law firms can support client needs. At JurisDOC, we pride ourselves on hiring employees that provide an outstanding level of customer service to our lawyer customers. Visit our website to learn more about a free trial of our legal document assembly software and see how quickly you can save money – and time.


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