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Starting a Law Practice For Around $2500

I recently met an attorney that was considering open his own practice. He didn't believe he could do it, because he didn't have the capital to invest. "Maybe if I had $500,000 I would do it," he said. He is certainly not the only one that shares the opinion that you need a lot of money to start a law practice. However, others believe that a law practice can actually be a very inexpensive business to start.

In fact, you can start a law practice for as little as $2,500.

Keep in mind that I am not including things like bar dues or insurance, but unless you're already working at a firm, you were going to have to pay those items anyway. In order to get started we're going to set you up with a computer, book keeping software, credit payment, backup, scanner, printer, phone and internet.

Computer

This comes down somewhat to a matter of taste and preference. I believe that Macs are far easier to use and experience less problems with them than a PC. But the computer is just a tool and isn't worth obsessing over. My suggestion would be a 13" MacBook Pro or a 21.5" iMac. But any midgrade or better computer made in the last year will suit you. Cost: $500-$1100

Software

There really is no need to spend a lot of money up front on software. There is so much useful software for free--if you're on a tight budget, start with that and only pay for Microsoft Office if you later decide that you have to have it. Many people find that OpenOffice works just as well for them. Cost: $0

FreshBooks

With FreshBooks you get timekeeping and billing for $170 a year. FreshBooks makes things dead simple and is used by a lot of solo attorneys. Alternatively there are options such as QuickBooks for around the same price. Cost: $170

Dropbox

You get 2GB of space for free. For at least the first few months of your practice, that should be fine. Eventually, opt for one of their paid plans, where for $120 a year, you can backup 50GB with Dropbox. This is a great option because there is no reason why your case files should take up any more than that for quite some time. You will always have access to your entire practice in the cloud. Cost: $0-$120

Printer

There are so many printers to choose from and their available is always changing that it's pointless to try to sort it all out. Generally speaking, you don't need a high end printer when you are first starting out. A $100 HP will do the trick for you. If you can swing it, it's nice to have a laser printer, though that's not crucial in the beginning. Cost: $100

Scanner

The Fujitsu ScanSnap wins rave reviews among its users. Even though it seems like an expensive item on your list, it is well worth it. It makes reducing your paper simple and saves you all kinds of time. Plus it comes bundled with software that is worth almost as much as the scanner itself. Cost: $450

Phone

There are a number of ways you could go here. Assuming you're not leasing a traditional office, there is no need to get a business line. As long as your cell service is reliable, instead consider Google Voice, which can set you up with an office number and then forward your calls to your cell phone. Alternatively, there are options like Vonage and Skype. Cost: $750

Internet

You're probably going to want a high speed connection, so let's assume around $50 a month for service from Comcast or whoever provides your service. Like the phone, you were likely going to pay for this anyway, so it isn't hard to swallow. Down the road, you might also want to consider a mobile wi-fi card for working on the road, but you don't need that right away. Cost: $600

So there you have it. Total it all up and you get a range of $2,570 to $3,290. Certainly a far cry from $500,000.

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