Are you thinking about opening a solo law firm? Starting a solo law practice allows you to be your own boss and work when, where, and on what you like. Drawbacks of opening a solo law practice include being solely responsible for everything (finances, management, marketing, etc.) and possibly longer hours. So before you start a solo law practice, read on for some things you should know beforehand.
The first thing you should do when deciding to start your own law practice is to ask yourself the following questions. Do I have the right skills and attitude to run my own business? How well do I tolerate risks? Am I an entrepreneur? Running your own business requires managerial, finance and marketing skills. Not only do you have to be confident with your legal knowledge, but you also have to be willing to learn or refine your business skills.
If you still want to open a solo law firm after assessing your entrepreneurial and legal skills, develop a plan of action for your practice.
- Pick one or two areas of law you want to specialize in. Make sure you choose the right area of law to focus on because some areas are harder to get into.
- Identify who your ideal clients are and your specific business goals: do you want to reach a revenue goal or an experience goal?
- Be sure to establish a financial, management, and marketing plan. See if an intern at a local community college will help with your media plan.
- Let people know that you are starting your own firm and your law practice specialty. Join professional organizations that cater to your specialty. Networking is a great source for referrals.
- Decide what kind of office environment is right for you. Instead of signing a lease for a year find an office where you can share expenses by seeking other lawyers with empty law space. Shared law office space is a no brainer as a solo attorney. The benefits of sharing a law office space include: reduced rent, shared office equipment and conference rooms, and built-in networking and referral opportunities. Lawspacematch.com is a great way to find empty law office space.
Use Legal Apps
Legal apps can assist you in working remotely and being a paperless law practice.
- Cloud-based apps can be used for document authoring, file sharing, and backups. It provides mobility, flexibility, and security.
- Google Docs/Sheets/Slides enables users to compose, edit, and share word processors, spreadsheets, and presentations.
- Dropbox allows you to store files in folders that can be private, public, or shared with certain users.
- CrashPlan provides a safe and reliable means of backing up your documents.
- See Three Cloud-Based Tools Every Law Practice Needs – http://www.legalinkmagazine.com/2014/07/three-cloud-based-tools-every-law-practice-needs/ for more information.
Consider getting a Mentor
Having more experienced attorneys in your law space who can help by advising about how to set flat rates or billing hours, counsel about a particular area of law outside of your growing expertise, valuable introductions to other lawyers and judges and lastly, perhaps referral business. Again, you can find your mentor with shared law space.
Sharing. It’s happening everywhere. Not only are people sharing office space, including law space, they are sharing cars, bikes, clothing and equipment. A number of sharing services have popped up in recent years, including ride-sharing services like Uber, Zimride and Lyft. Let’s not forget home-sharing services such as Airbnb. So, this trend of sharing continues. While efficiency may be at the heart of the matter, there is also the aspect of being in an efficient mode (whether you are seeking to create a small law office within another larger law office, or renting a ballgown for an upcoming event).
Ridesharing, apartment/home lending, peer-to-peer lending, reselling, coworking, talent-sharing… The sharing economy, sometimes also called the collaboration economy, is taking off in all sorts of niches. Sharing. It also inspires new legislation. For instance, a top official at the ride-sharing service Lyft and Senator Bo Watson of Tennessee created a new law that allows for car-booking companies to operate statewide to serve as model to other states. Even Google has entered the new ride-share service arena. It comes down to offering people (including lawyers) a way to use data and space effectively for people to have access to when and where they want it. Co working has become and looks like it will stay the trend.
Overall, there seems to be economies of scale and substantial benefit in sharing. That is why they call it the Sharing Economy!
Are you looking for ways to market your law firm to future clients? Read on for some ideas to boost your law firm’s visibility.
1. Create a Logo Design or Branding Sign for your Law Firm
A logo is a visualization of your company’s brand and can help clients recognize your law firm. A customized law firm branding sign can list your firm’s name, practice areas and website. You can display your logo and branding sign in the lobby of your office or in advertisements. Branding signs can cost $45.00.
2. Get Listed in a Niche Directory
A niche directory is a web directory that focuses on a particular industry or theme and lists relevant companies in its directory. Participating in a niche directory can help future clients find your business easier and faster. Niche directory services can cost $99.00 a month.
3. Utilize Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) uses a variety of strategies (keywords, content, social media, etc.) to increase visitors to a website by increasing its page rank on search engines. Search Engine Optimization services can cost $399.00 a month.
4. Be Featured as a Guest on a Radio Podcast
As a featured guest on a radio podcast, you can broadcast your legal experience and firm specialties to an audience of future clients. Radio podcast interviews can be replayed numerous times, published to your website/social media accounts and Search Engine Optimized. Radio podcast interviews can cost $499.00.
5. Hire a Marketing Company
Marketing companies can employ different tactics to promote your business and advise your law firm on how to attract more clients. A law firm marketing plan can cost $599.00 a month.
6. Share an Office Space
Working in a shared office space with other attorneys is another way to market your law firm. Attorneys who share an office space can refer clients to each other and split the expenses of networking. Sharing an office space not only offers marketing benefits, but also cost reducing measures like shared office equipment and reduced rent.
Before pursuing a costly marketing technique consider sharing an office space. Lawspacematch.com efficiently connects attorneys looking for a shared office with law firms who are looking to rent out empty office space.
A new wave of office space design has arrived. And lawyers are keen to replicate this new law office space set up. Many workplaces have scrapped their traditional office plan for an open office plan. Traditional office plans are stuffed with cubicles, dominated by segregated areas and hinders collaboration. Open office plans remove the physical barriers of the traditional office, which increases interaction among coworkers, creates more common areas and reduces operating costs.
According to Cresa Atlanta¹ (a corporate real estate advisory firm), big law firms are also embracing the open office plan by creating more spaces for teamwork and introducing wall-less offices. Some top trends in law office redesign include providing a variety of work areas (including more collaborative space), integrating advanced technology, implementing flexible office design to remodel quickly to future change and “going green.”
Solo and small law firms can adopt the open office plan through coworking spaces, which allow individual professionals to work independently, but also collaboratively in a shared office. Working from home has its distractions and renting a traditional office is expensive. Being a member in a coworking space can help you focus and connect with other lawyers in the office. Building relationships with attorneys in your coworking space can lead to referrals and opportunities to brainstorm together.
Other benefits of participating in a coworking space is not having to deal with a long-term lease, high rent and purchasing office amenities. Coworking spaces can “go green” by using a shared printer and scanner to reduce paper waste. Mail, packages and trash can all be picked up or delivered to one location, which results in a reduced carbon footprint. Solo and small law firms can reap numerous benefits from being a member in a coworking office.
Lawspacematch.com is a great tool to jumpstart your way into a coworking office space.
- We help connect attorneys searching for a shared office with law firms who have excess office space.
- Attorneys can easily search for their desired law space and law firms can conveniently post key cost-reducing information about their available offices.
- Lawspacematch.com can help you save time and money.
Consider changing your law space design in 2017.
Two Offices Available for Immediate Move-In:
- One small office at $500.00 a month (perfect for a starting lawyer)
- One regular sized office with a paralegal station at $1,400.00 a month
Features of the Office:
- All utilities included
- Phone with long distance capabilities
- Fax machine
- Internet and Wi-Fi with secure server
- Furnished waiting area
- Open parking
- Conference room with multimedia teleconference capability is available to rent by the hour or day
- In-house video production is available for depositions, broadcasts, ipod casts, or commercials
- Building is secured with an alarm system and offices are HIPAA compliant
- In-house runner, licensed process server, notary and IT department
This newly updated office building is easily accessible for clients from Dallas Metro to Fort Worth. The building will have new flooring and paint put in soon. The offices are leased on an annual basis.
You will be sharing this space with a nationally accredited and recognized civil litigator, seasoned and active Tarrant County family lawyer and a probate/oil and gas lawyer. They are a laid back group that collaborates and consults with each other. They are looking for someone with the same style of practice, preferably a board certified trial lawyer, but will consider others. The law practice includes all areas except for criminal, medical malpractice and immigration.
Additional Information about the Office:
They are also looking for starting lawyers who want to join their growing practice!
If interested, please contact Jennifer K. Gjesvold
LawSpaceMatch.com rallies with its sponsorship of Run for Justice in Atlanta, Georgia for the fifth year! We support Atlanta Legal Aid Society. Run for Justice 2013 Are you also interested in participating in a fun crisp autumn day run for a great cause?
On November 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM the Atlanta Legal Aid Society is holding its 26th Run for Justice. This event will benefit the general operating fund of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.
The beautiful 5K course begins and ends at One Step at A Time, 650 East Lake Drive, Decatur, GA 30030. There is also an option to participate in the 5K walk, great for families and children! Jogging strollers, kids and pets are welcome. Run for Justice also welcomes families, community, corporate, school and church teams!
Awards will be presented to the top 5K finishers and teams in various categories, including children, strollers and pets.
Each participant will receive a dri-weave t-shirt (XXL and above are an additional $3.00). Children’s sizes are available in white cotton.
Regular registration is $25.00 in advance. Run for Justice starts at 9:00 AM so participants are encouraged to arrive no later than 8:30 AM. Registration begins at 7:45 AM on the day of the run.
Please visit runforjustice.org for more information and to register for the event.
Interested in sponsoring Run for Justice? Visit rfjsponsors.atlantalegalaid.org.
Volunteer opportunities are available.
Fun Facts about Run for Justice:
- Over 1,000 registered participants
- 25% of participants were families
- 50% of participants competed in previous Run for Justice events
- 95% had university and/or post-graduate degrees
- 95% lived and worked within the perimeter
- 10% were competitive runners
- Over 40 law firms and corporations fielded teams
If you have any additional questions, please contact
Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.
From the Atlanta Legal Aid Society:
The Run for Justice is a fun, easy way to show your support for Atlanta Legal Aid and the great work we do! We provide civil legal services to persons with very low incomes in Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Clayton and Cobb counties. Last year, Legal Aid attorneys assisted over 50,000 people and handled over 24,000 cases, primarily involving housing, family, and senior citizens issues. Begun in 1924 by 17 prominent local attorneys, Atlanta Legal Aid has meant access to justice for countless individuals, who would otherwise be shut out of an increasingly complex legal system because they do not have the money to hire a lawyer. Check out what we are doing today at www.atlantalegalaid.org
According to a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters Solo and Small Law Firm group, the biggest challenge for solo and small firm law practices is acquiring new clients. Here are some tips for getting new clients.
1. Network, Network, Network!
Attend conferences and networking events. Join a bar association, professional organization or committee. Reach out to other lawyers, but also connect with non-lawyers who work in the same field as you. Let your family, friends and acquaintances know about your practice and specialties. Besides networking in person, be sure to network online too. Do whatever you can to get the word out about your practice.
2. Establish and Maintain an Online Presence
Establish a professional website for your law practice. Create a social media account on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Avvo. Continually update and participate in social media like contributing to Avvo forums or posting tweets about legal matters. Start a legal blog that provides helpful information your target audience is interested in. You can link your blog posts to your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter account.
Maintain relationships with past clients and inform them of all the services your law practice provides. Referrals can also come from other attorneys. Attorneys who work in a shared office space can recommend potential clients. Sharing an office space with other attorneys provides many benefits like a strong attorney network, shared resources (printers, wi-fi, conference rooms etc.), reduced rent and a focused work environment.
4. Karma is Real
Just because a particular client isn’t a good fit for your practice doesn’t mean they’re not a good fit for someone else’s. Don’t be afraid to refer a client you wouldn’t normally take to other practices. Who knows, maybe other attorneys just met with someone that would benefit more from your area of expertise.
NEW opportunity: Our office has been completely full for several years and we now have two offices available! We are two connected condominiums with office space available for rent. The location of the office has a peaceful setting. This presents an outstanding opportunity for any attorney to become an independent attorney and have the camaraderie of fellow colleagues.
The office features: · Easy access to I-75 and I-285 ·The Law Office Suite is located at North by Northwest Office Park, off Windy Hill Rd. at I-75. ·The office is located in Cobb County with an Atlanta mailing address · Ample parking · Beautiful lakeside views · Receptionist/Telephone operator/Notary Public provided · Two Conference Rooms and Media Room · Advanced telephone system with voice messaging · 2 Copiers (workstations), Fax Machine, and Postage Machine available · Kitchen with Coffee services and other drinks · Internet available ·
Located near the new Braves Stadium · Current attorneys practice in a variety of different fields and in several surrounding counties.
CAN WORKING IN A SHARED OFFICE SPACE REALLY MAKE YOU HAPPIER?
The potential benefits of working in a shared office space are somewhat self-evident: shared costs of office staff, supplies, internet and IT support, access to conference rooms for client meetings, an essentially free referral network, to name a few. But what about the emotional and mental consequences of sharing office space? Is it possible that sharing office space can actually make you happier?
Research says it can. Deskmag, an international online magazine about coworking, conducted a Global Coworking Survery of 2,007 people in 2012. The survey suggested that there is a difference in the level of satisfaction based on whether the lawyer formally worked in a traditional or home office, however there are significant benefits to self-esteem and productivity in both situations.
Lawyers that come from a traditional office space to a shared office space report a 90% increase in self-confidence. While more controlled research needs to be done sampling a wider variety of lawyers using shared office space nationally, these results suggest that the improvement in emotional and mental contentment may be staggering. The Deskmag study concludes that this increase in self-confidence has two main causes: the flexibility that a shared workspace provides and the opportunity to pick your coworkers. Many lawyers coming from a traditional office appreciate the 24 hour access that some shared spaces offer. They also tend to choose office space that is closer to their home, decreasing their commute and consequently reducing work-related stress (Foerstch). Lawspacemath.com has a feature to match you with a space close to where you work and play with our simple zip code match. We can match you with a place where you can choose your hours and your coworkers to create a healthy and supportive work environment.
Lawyers that formerly worked from home generally tend to appreciate the flexibility of a shared office space less than their traditional office counterparts. While only one in two report that they feel “healthier,” they benefit from decreased isolation and being a part of a community. The shared office space provides a “family” of faces each day, something that many home practitioners find they miss when going at it alone (Robertson). Even more importantly, former home workers experience a huge increase in productivity (23% more than lawyers coming from traditional offices) and an increase in income (32% more). Both of these factor into an increase in self-confidence.
Regardless of whether a lawyer is coming from a traditional office or a home office, the mental and emotional benefits are significant. The ability to influence your work environment allows a lawyer to create a supportive and beneficial work environment. Nearly all lawyers reported an increase in productivity and income, which contributes to positive self-esteem. At the very least, a shared office space provides the discipline and routine that makes lawyers feel more like invested business owners, increasing their chances of success (Elefant).
¹ Foertsch, Carsten, “Advantages of Coworking Spaces Over Other Offices,” Deskmag.com, October 11, 2012. <http://www.deskmag.com/en/advantages-of-coworkig-spaces-over-traditional-and-home-offices-581>
² Robertson, Mark, “The Essentials of Office Sharing and Executive Suites,” Law Practice Today, May 2009. <http://apps.americanbar.org/lpm/lpt/articles/bkr05091.shtml>
³ Elefant, Carolyn, “Would You Rent Office Space if it only Cost $500/month—And What can We Do to Make That Happen?” MyShingle.com, April 10, 2013. <http://myshingle.com/2013/04/articles/trends/would-you-rent-office-space-if-it-only-cost-500month-and-what-can-we-do-to-make-that-happen/>
Study after study concludes that the financial and productivity benefits of working in a shared office space are significant—and no doubt they are. What few articles examine, however, is the hidden marketing benefits that come from networking with other lawyers in the office. These benefits are extremely subtle, but equally significant in the success and expansion of your legal practice.
The first is the availability of a reception area and access to conference rooms. The legal profession is, ultimately, one that requires interaction with people. Regardless of the advances in technology, nothing can replace a face-to-face meeting either in the office or in the courtroom. Meeting a client in an office environment gives two critical first impressions: first that you are a lawyer whose services are worth paying for, and second, that the prospective client is important enough to you to meet with him or her personally. As Rachel Rodgers writes in the Philadelphia Law Blog, “As lawyers, we deal with real people, who have real problems that are decided in real courtrooms. The outcomes have consequences…A snazzy website just can’t replace an office.”
Shared office spaces also office the chance to split the costs of networking benefits. For example, client lunches, holiday parties and events can all be hosted with either one firm or a conglomerate of solo practitioners, attracting more potential clients while saving money. Solo practitioners in complementary practices can collaborate to put on joint webinars.
The key for marketing success in a shared office space is just that: collaboration. The most obvious area where this is beneficial is referrals. Lawyers can acquire more business by being of counsel for other law firms in their area of expertise. Similarly, office mates can refer cases outside of their expertise to solo practitioners with more experience in that area of the law.
www.Lawspacematch.com provides the opportunity to lawyers to network simply by going to work. The flexibility in choosing space and coworkers allows solo practitioners more control over their work environment, and thus more control over the extent to which they participate in joint marketing efforts. Research indicates that marketing is usually “the first thing to fall through the cracks” for solo practitioners who are too busy to deal with their workload. In a shared office environment, these former solo lawyers develop better marketing habits just through observing and natural competition with their office mates. If the financial advantages aren’t enough to persuade a you to try a shared space, imagine the benefits that seem less obvious—free expansion of your practice.
¹ Rodgers, Rachel, “Your Website is not a Reception Area,” Philadelphia Law Bog, April 6, 2013. <https://phillylawblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/your-website-is-not-a-reception-area/>
² Elefant, Carmen, “How Working Cheek to Cheek Can Help Market Your Practice Week to Week,”Nolo’s Legal Marketing Blog, December 14, 2010. <http://www.legalmarketingblawg.com/index.html?page=2>