- Define your goals:
- Financial – How much money does the firm have to 'gross' in order for you to 'net' enough to live the way you WANT to live? ;
- Personal – How many hours do you WANT to invest on a daily, weekly and monthly-basis?;
- Professional – What types of cases, clients do you WANT to work with in your practice? Remember starting a law firm is an opportunity to create the life you WANT. Don't settle.
2. Inventory your skills and resources. If you know a particular practice area very well that's probably the best practice area to concentrate on in the beginning rather than having to learn a new practice area at the same time you're learning how to run the business of a law firm.
- What kind of hands-on business management & marketing skills do you have?
- What kind of budget do you have to cover living expenses while the firm gets established, working capital for start-up and operating expenses and to invest in educating yourself about the business of how to start, market & manage a law firm so you don't waste years of your life & career learning these critical skills the hard way
There are many free resources available to help you. Including many provided for free by me.
But consider the hidden 'cost' of free in terms of the time required to piece everything together vs. just enrolling in a course.
Imagine the difference between the student who chooses to enroll in a well-organized course in law school with discussions lead by a supportive and experienced professor vs. the law student who simply takes the course syllabus and endeavors to spend the whole semester on his own looking up and studying all the cases in the library by himself or with a few of his buddies. Who is going to do better on the exam?
3. Make a plan and put that plan to budget and time-table to acquire the skills you find yourself lacking in.
Do this BEFORE you start trying to follow anyone's advice about writing a business plan or how to create a law firm website that actually generates business, etc. The root cause of the successful law firms isn't what you can see from the surface from a casual conversation with another lawyer in passing, or in a blog.
If you're reading this and you're a lawyer I'm going to assume you're a pretty smart person and you want to be successful. So I'm going to skip the usual and obvious warnings here. Instead, the biggest danger to look out for is advice from other lawyers.
- Some aren't nearly as successful as they'd like you to believe.
- Some are in fact very successful but may not have traveled a deliberate and replicable path and so their well-intentioned advice can be a real distraction.
- And sad to say, some lawyers are just jerks who would rather have company in their misery and can be quite persuasive in their efforts to recruit you into their merry band of losers.