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Checklist for Starting Your Own Law Firm

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Shreya has been with londonbusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider londonbusinessblog.com team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

I am the founder and CEO of Stephenson Law, a progressive, innovative law firm that puts people at the center of everything it does.

a dizzying one 39% of law firms say: that setting up their own law firm is their current career ambition. It’s a stark statistic when you consider the blood, sweat and tears it takes to become a partner in many of today’s companies.

And yet it is something I can deeply relate to. When I qualified for three years and worked for a top law firm, I initially looked to partnership as my future. Just a few weeks later, I had retired without a safety net, grieving a career path that I now realized was not for me.

The reality is that making a partner involves a great sacrifice. Whether it’s the loss of family, untenable late nights or a stifling work environment, the daily collaboration leaves many hungry for something more.

For me, I quickly realized that the partnership trajectory would force me to limit myself to legal industry standards. As a single tattooed mom, I realized I would have to sacrifice who I was to climb the partnership ladder. And it was a step too far.

It seems I am not alone as the reality of a partnership does not meet the needs of 39% of lawyers. Many are ready for change and eager to breathe new life into the legal industry with their own personal flair. And while many long to start their own law firm, few know where to start. For the game-changers, the industry shakers, and the 39% ready to make the leap, I’ve prepared a checklist for starting a law firm.

1. Business Structures and Business Plans

Building your business from the ground up requires a strong foundation, so one of the first things you need to tackle is the structure of your business. While businesses are traditionally run as partnerships, many looking to start over are thinking more about the options available to them as a limited liability company. Therefore, step one of establishing your business should be a careful consideration of the pros and cons of your business structure.

To help determine the architecture of your company, you should also prepare a business plan. If you want to start a regulated law firm, it is a must. When writing your business plan, create something that is well-structured, simple, concise, and visually appealing.

2. Building a brand

Making your mark in the legal sector is easier said than done. As a centuries-old profession there is no shortage of competition, which is why it is paramount that you take the time to truly develop and understand your company’s unique identity.

When planning your branding and marketing strategy, it can be difficult to know where to start. From knowing how to best reach your target market to gaining market share in your industry and outsmarting your competitors, there are many moving parts and data to browse. This is where a marketing plan comes in.

3. The core of the insurance and the regulator

Depending on the nature of your work, you may need permission from your supervisor, which will affect the professional liability insurance you need to take out. But, as with anything, tackling regulatory authorization is more complex than you might expect. First, is it worth asking if you should be regulated? And second, if you do, what obligations do you have to meet?

You also need to arrange the insurance you need. We are in the business of managing legal risks for our clients, but that ethos should extend to your own business as well. From employer liability insurance to cyber insurance, you need to think carefully about the threats your business faces and how to prepare for them.

4. Winning Work

Every business needs customers to survive. You can have the best marketing and business plans, but you won’t get very far without customers. While many partners are well versed in the artful craft of customer acquisition, running your own business will present a new set of challenges. When you start, you need to determine who your target customer is, why they should work with you, and your plan of action. And if your business takes off, you’ll need to constantly rethink it as your customer base evolves.

By setting up your own law firm, you have a unique opportunity to move away from the traditional sales methods of law firms: the fancy dinners, the business gifts, the appropriate and started boardroom chats. As the founder of your own law firm, you now have the autonomy to explore modern methods from personal branding to targeted marketing to content creation to LinkedIn deep dives. Grab the opportunity with both hands.

5. Balancing profit with purpose

While the legal industry has improved by leaps and bounds, there is still a long way to go. As partners, we have the capacity to improve the working environment of our colleagues. However, as founders, we have an incredible opportunity to not only improve our industry in the long term, but also create new ways of thriving.

While making a profit is the key to your survival, it’s not as simple as securing cash in the bank. Over 80% of new businesses fail, and while many make a profit, they don’t realize the long-term importance of creating a purposeful business. Without it, your business runs the risk of not only blending in with the crowd, but becoming a run-of-the-mill business doomed to fail.

For most, the transition from partner to founder involves more than financial autonomy. The venture is an opportunity to create a new way of working, advance the legal services industry or simply turn the industry upside down.

If you want to go far, remember that your greatest and most unique power will be your goal. So dig deep, ask tough questions and let your office truly embody what drives you forward as a lawyer and entrepreneur.


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