Starting a Law Firm for Small Law Firms - Strategist
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Many lawyers dream of landing a corporate client with deep pockets or a millionaire businesswoman with a litigious ex -- anyone willing to pay an exorbitant hourly rate and to pay it often. But while the wealthiest few have no problem finding representation, there are millions of potential clients who need lawyers but cannot afford them. These aren't just indigent clients either.

Adopting a sliding, income-based billing rate can help you reach clients who would otherwise go unrepresented, without giving away your services for free. Could it work for your firm?

These days, pretty much any lawyer with a laptop, a cell phone, and a bar membership can start her own solo practice. There's no need for the wood-paneled offices or stacks of legal reporters. Solo practice can offer you more control and greater flexibility in your work, but it also requires that you take on the role of manager, accountant, marketer and more -- in addition to your legal responsibilities.

Lawyers thinking about opening their own practice should carefully consider their options beforehand. Here's three questions to ask before you go solo:

5 Problems Unique to Work-From-Home Solos (With Solutions!)

Like Bruce Wayne, I have an alter ego. In my alternate life, I'm Batman a solo practitioner who works from home. Lots of solos have a separate office, but being that I'm part-time, all that office space wouldn't make sense. Other solos work from home because it's cheap and there's not much reason to rent office space.

Writing briefs in your pajamas is great, but logistical headaches flare up from time to time. Without the features of a fully equipped law office, solos who work from home have to fend for themselves when it comes to things like printing, mailing, and filing.

Here are some of the common problems we face, with some handy solutions:

5 Things Every Lawyer Should Do During Client Intake

You've finally got clients coming in the door! Clients are coming! After hanging your shingle, advertising, handling your aunt's cat's estate plan and living will, and redesigning your firm stationary for the 65th time, you finally have a few client intakes lined up.

What steps should you take to protect the client's interests, as well as your own? Here are five things you should be doing to ensure that you end up with conflict-free, sane, paying clients:

3 Reasons to Take Business Risks in Your Legal Practice

During times of relative stability, it's so tempting to grow complacent. Sure, there are those professional risks you've fantasized about taking to boost your practice. But the dreaded string of "what ifs" soon follows and puts those fledgling temptations to rest.

But here's the thing: Those "what ifs" are crippling and can actually hurt the longevity of your business. Risks are not only necessary to thrive, they're crucial to survive.

Here are three reasons why you should take calculated risks in your legal practice:

Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.

Small Business Week: Our Small Firm Startup Series

You may have heard by now that this week is Small Business Week. It's a week to celebrate small businesses, and an excuse for companies to send themed spam email to your inbox. It's also a good excuse for those of us who aren't self-employed to ponder the pros and cons of going into business for ourselves -- freedom versus risk, ownership versus limited resources, etc.

If you're thinking about going solo, we've got more than a few tips for you. In fact, this blog is an endless stream of tips for sole practitioners and small firm startups. But where do you start?

How about here, with a handy recap of our ongoing "Small Firm Startup" series:

Solo attorneys need a marketing presence, and they should know to focus on it.

Still confused about where to get started? FindLaw.com offers a no-hassle marketing solution in the Lawyer Directory, and it's so simple to sign up.

Part of being an effective attorney is zealously advocating for your client. And although you may be the most motivated, competent advocate in the market, no one will know that unless you actually have clients.

So for those still unconvinced of the need for solos to push for marketing, consider this:

Naming your practice can be a puzzling process for many new attorneys seeking to start their own firms. There are ethical concerns, not to mention business interests, to be mindful of before selecting a moniker for your practice.

In order to pick the right one, avoid these five naming mistakes:

We recently saw an interview of Bruce Barket* on Bloomberg Law, where he talked about his experience starting a law firm in the post-recession economy. Bucking industry trends, his firm is not shrinking, but growing.

Here are some tips that we gleaned from his interview on how to start a post-2008, recession-proof law firm.