Ready to launch your own law firm? Then welcome to the last article in Ruby’s “Solo” lawyer series! If you read our previous posts—“Ready to Go Solo?” and “Should you go solo? 4 things for attorneys to consider”—odds are you’re close to hitting the eject button at your old job. But before you do, we’ve got a few last suggestions you don’t want to miss…
#1: Getting things in order
Last time, we wrote that feeling ready to leave your old firm doesn’t mean being prepared to start your own firm. So don’t even think about turning in your two weeks’ notice until you’ve got your ducks in a row. There’s a mountain of prep work to do before you can waltz into a shiny new office. Let’s dive into the details!
Budgeting for the big stuff
You’ve probably already taken the most vital step—making the decision to start your own firm. Now come the less fun parts. You’ll likely need to acquire funding to pay for your grand enterprise. Even if you have a sizable nest egg, we suggest not using your own money if you can help it.
Professional expenses such as licensing fees, insurance, and membership dues can add up fast. General expenses you’ll need to cover include things like an office space lease, furnishings, and décor. You’ll also need to buy computers, printers, phones, a scanner, dictation recorders, legal software, and client relationship management software.
Then there are marketing and advertising costs…oh, and don’t forget paralegal and receptionist salaries!
Credit cards are a fallback for small purchases, but you don’t want to fund a business with them due to comparatively high interest rates. Other borrowing options include loans from friends and family, though you’ve got to be careful not to let finances come between relationships.
Making a business plan
You’ll need to establish a business plan outlining forecasted revenue, expenses, profits, cash reserves, and any other financial elements. If you opt for a loan or line of credit to cover startup costs, your business plan needs to be rock solid since the lender will review it and, in part, base their decision on it.
It should be compelling, listing your long and short-term goals, explaining the values you cherish, and clarifying your sustainable vision for your firm’s future. It’ll need to include a detailed analysis of the competition in your area, which can help you identify potential gaps to fill—and build your marketing around!
While you’re at it, don’t forget to include Key Performance Indicators related to target client numbers, client satisfaction rates, your firm’s financial health, and your marketing strategy (which includes website performance).
Setting up your business
Once you’ve got your business plan squared away, before applying for a loan or line of credit you’ll want to choose and register a name for your business and form your business entity—usually a Limited Liability Company, Limited Partnership, or Limited Liability Partnership. Each business type comes with its own pros and cons.
As needed in your state, you must apply for licenses and permits. Your firm will need a bank checking account and Employer ID number, too. And, of course, you’ll want to scout for an attractive, suitable location you can rent, which is within your budget but allows room for growth!
Since law firms don’t get a lot of “walk-in” business like a retail store, you might think the geographic location itself isn’t that important…but it is! In fact, your office’s visible exterior (including its signage), is important for marketing.
#2: Partnering with platforms
Does all of the above sound like a lot of work? Yes, because it is! Perhaps even too much for one person to manage. So, if you were planning to tackle these tasks on your own, we encourage you to think twice.
We mentioned legal software as something you’ll need to purchase…but consider using platforms designed to streamline law-related administrative work for you. For instance, cloud-based Clio is a popular, comprehensive case management platform used by over 150,000 legal professionals.
An undisputed leader in the legal niche, Clio helps you offload client management tasks so you can focus on growing your new practice. It’s also conveniently integrated with our Ruby platform, forging a powerhouse duo that lets attorneys automatically intake clients and seamlessly bill from communication logs.
To learn the details, check out Clio’s key benefits for your firm!
#3: Outsourcing client communication
Don’t need (or want) a full-time receptionist just yet? We’ve got you covered!
Ruby’s legal virtual receptionists will manage your client communications, intake, and appointments online or over the phone.
Our flexible and affordable service frees you up to focus on growing your practice without the hassle of dealing with an in-house employee.
No hiring to do. No training required. And no personnel issues to deal with. Instead, with Ruby you get a team of experts dishing up personalized experiences to your leads, prospects, and clients 24/7!