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Tips to Minimize Overhead When Starting a Solo Practice

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on March 16, 2016 4:10 PM

For several years, there have been different brass rings to reach for within the legal profession. The most common recurring of these including being named partner and in-house counsel (or better yet, GC) -- though the orders tend to switch.

But for most lawyers, that isn't going to happen or it will be a while yet. One way you can make partner instantly is to create your own firm. You've dreamed about it, of course, but what to do with the expenses?

A Reality Sandwich

You've already taken the first bite of the reality sandwich, now you'll have to take another. Fortunately, the second bite isn't usually as bitter as the first.

Yes, starting your own firm is expensive, but there are methods you can employ that will make the initial startup costs more bearable. We'll go over a few in this piece.

Buy Used

This one was obvious but it bears mentioning. For most things, you will not need new equipment -- especially furnishings. It's just that simple. Since you're new, you are not going to be attracting the most selective of clients. The fact of the matter is this: you need a desk and a computer, an Internet connection, and some place private to talk. The rest can be mostly taken care of at a library. It is simply an inefficient use of limited resources to buy something new when something used will get 98 percent of the job done at one third the cost.

Get Skilled

Technology is a double-edged sword. Millennials have been disrupting how law is practiced in ways that the older folks can't handle. We're assuming that if you want to start your own law firm, you're young and not in your sunset years.

To keep things cheap, however, you're going to have to get skilled at filing motions, understanding notice requirements, working with documents, etc. In other words, you will have to be your own paralegal. This one is pretty much set in stone because good paralegals can be very expensive and you're simply not in the position to hire one just yet.

Work From Home

You always wanted to telecommute, and now your wish came true. You know what they say: be careful what you wish for. As an attorney, working from home can have its ups and its downs, but it is certainly the case that your clients will judge you based on the appearance of your domicile. If you don't meet clients at your home (not a good idea to let clients know where you live, by the way), you will have to meet them via Skype or some other video format. All this can also be done with a virtual office that can be had for a small fee.

But if you insist on meeting clients at home, you will need to dedicate a room to discuss matters. In our opinion, it would be better to rent out spaces for limited use than to meet clients at your living space. That sort of relationship is too intimate. The client becomes your friend rather than your client and when something goes wrong, they might come after you where you live. And then costs will really get out of hand.

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