Making the decision to open a law firm is one of the biggest choices that an attorney can ever make. Becoming the boss can have its advantages and challenges, but venturing out on your own can be the highlight of your law career. When you decide to make the jump to starting your own law firm, you’re in for some frustrations and late nights, to be sure. You get autonomy over your own work, and that can keep you more motivated and make your work feel more rewarding.
The Pros and Cons of Opening Your Own Firm
Theres an obvious benefit to going to work for yourself, and that’s getting to be your own boss. You decide when you have enough to work to do. Rates, vacation days, and even colour schemes are up to you. You can expect to work a lot of hours, though, because you have to serve your clients as well as manage the company. Laws continue to change, and you might encounter a new legal nuance or a legal issue of first impression. When youre the boss, you have to find your own answers to these questions. A subscription to WestlawNext Canada, LexisNexis Canada, or Halsbury’s Laws of Canada can keep you up to date, and there are other regional and local legal reporters that can get you through. You might also develop mentoring relationships with other attorneys. In any event, its important to have a plan to deal with cases that involve new issues. Law firm owners talk to a lot of people in the course of a day. This is either a pro or a con, depending on your point of view. When you have your own practise, you interact with your clients, judges, other attorneys, your own staff, and people who provide services to your company.When you work for yourself, your income is in your hands. You don’t feel like youre doing all the work while someone else enjoys the profits. When the law firm has a good week or month, you do, too. For the right person, this can be highly motivating and it can make going to work a lot of fun. Lawyers arent always great at taking risks. In fact, lawyers often tell clients to settle cases so that they dont have to take the risk of going to trial. When you work for yourself, there’s no safety net. If you create a solid business plan and sign new clients , you can be very successful. When you have your own law firm, you’re a known entity in your community. In addition to the clients that you help along the way, the platform of a law firm gives you a great platform to influence the community. You might choose to run for local office, speak to students about the laws, or support nonprofit organizations. When you’re an attorney and a business owner, the community sees you as a leader.
How to Start Your Own Firm
When you’re taking the step to open a law firm, there are a lot of logistics to manage. Law school might teach you about criminal offences and federal statutes, but it doesn’t always teach you how to start a business. Legal entrepreneurs have a lot of things to plan when they venture out on their own.When you tell people that you’re opening your own law firm, the first question to expect is what you’re going to call the business. Think of something memorable that describes what your firm does. It should be easy to spell so potential clients can find it with an internet search. Starting a law firm is a lot like starting any other business. That means you have to register your business with the proper authorities. You need a business number, and there might be provincial and local registrations, too.You don’t have to have the top-floor corner suite the first day. Choose a location that you can afford and grow with your practise. If your practise often brings you to a particular courthouse, it might make sense to set up shop nearby. You can think about parking and looking for a place that clients can easily find. Prospective clients have to know that you’re in business. Taking the time to create a detailed business launch plan can pay off. A plan can include a website, online marketing, and business cards. It also helps to have a launch announcement. A new law firm likely needs a working phone system and internet access. Consider establishing a mailbox, garbage service, and snow removal and lawn care services, if applicable. The business might need things such as letterhead, a printer and scanner, desks, chairs, artwork and decorations. You’ll need a business bank account, cheques, and credit cards, as well as financial and accounting software.Ultimately, starting a law firm is a lot like starting any other type of business, with the exception of professional liability insurance. A good name, a convenient location, and a solid marketing strategy can put your new law firm on the map. Patience and planning can help you market your business to potential clients and ultimately serve the community.