This post is meant to kick off a series on how to start a law firm in 2015. If you’re reading this then I’m guessing you’re considering, or are preparing for, the hanging of your shingle. It’s no wonder that an increasing number of attorneys are having to start up – things aren’t looking too hot for the legal profession. The good news is that you are starting up at an interesting time and have an amazing opportunity. If you go about things the right way, as opposed to how most U.S. law firms approach business, then you are going to stand out from the crowd and will be able to do so rather quickly. So, if you’re interested in prosperity then you may want to pay attention to this series. With some good ol’ hard work you can wind up lookin’ like ol’ boy in this picture:
He looks like a happy chap doesn’t he? Well, let’s get to it.
It’s no secret why an increasing number of attorneys are having to start their own firm. Unemployment in the United States has been consistently dropping the last few years but legal sector employment has gone in the opposite direction. From January to November of 2014 the legal services sector lost roughly 2,000 jobs in the United States1. By April of 2015 the legal services sector lost another 15,000 jobs2. As if this isn’t bad enough, things are going to get worse, much worse, for the profession in the coming years. The best way to insulate yourself from the situation is to start your own firm so that your not dependent on someone else and make sure you run your firm correctly.
I’ll delve into a number of topics over my next several posts. Subjects we’re going to look at include:
- Why past and upcoming changes to the legal profession require starting your own firm
- Understanding that the most valuable asset your new firm has is, in fact, you
- Deciding on a practice area for your firm and why you should stay focused
- Picking the right business structure and setting yourself up for success
- The right software to use in your firm
- Marketing your new practice – the right way
- Choosing the right support services and, eventually, the right employees
- Sustaining your success once the ball is rolling
Many of the things I’ll be discussing over the next several posts run counter to what you typically see in most law offices – big or small. Making your office different from all the other ones out there is a good thing; law offices are notorious for being inefficient and attorneys regularly admit to not knowing how to run a business. I’m sure you’ve heard many attorneys say “I’m a lawyer, not a businessperson.” In spite of the lack of business acumen, which is rampant in the legal profession, start-ups continue to model their practice after what other attorneys traditionally do. When I see new firms going down that road I usually wind up looking like this:
Fortunately, you’re taking the time to read articles such as this and that means you’re taking the steps to set yourself up for success. In addition to the upcoming posts, I’d also suggest taking a look at our 30 days to a better law firm series.
Congrats on your new firm! See you in the next article.
1The Wall Street Journal, November 7th, 2014 – accessed at: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2014/11/07/legal-services-sector-down-2000-jobs-in-2014
2The Wall Stree Journal, April 3rd, 2015 – accessed at: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2015/04/03/legal-services-sector-stagnant-in-march (The November 2014 article, referenced above, reported that total legal service sector jobs at that time were 1,134,700. The April, 2015 article reported total jobs of 1,119,400. This equates to a loss of over 15,000 jobs).