We don’t have to tell you that the law is a demanding business. The hours are long, the work is intense, and the demands on your intelligence are great. You often have to deal with human conflict. But you are part of a process that is vital to the function of society, to the preservation of freedom and civil liberties, the maintenance of social order, and the conduct of economic transactions. Now the passion that has driven your career leads you to wonder if it’s time to start a law firm of your own. We are pleased to offer some tips to help you hang your shingle!
Focus on Essentials
First things first. You are looking for a balance here. You need to keep your operation in fighting trim, lean and mean, without skimping on essentials. Especially when you’re just starting out, you’ll need to take a no-frills approach that prioritizes your suit, a phone, and a computer. Maybe a briefcase, too!
You will have to justify every dollar you spend as contributing to your ability to earn. Remember, though, that time is money. If buying a commercial software package helps you process PDF documents faster or keep track of important legal evidence, buy it. Anything that makes you more productive is part of your bottom line.
Aristotle defines virtue as entailing action directed toward “the right objects, towards the right people, with the right motive, and in the right way…” Take a letter from classical virtue and don’t burn bridges with your current employer. Lawyers of Distinction urges you to consult the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct and your state bar to determine how you can leave your current firm in the most ethical way. You may need to conduct business with them in the future, or need them as a reference. So play them fairly.
You could be a general practitioner in law. You could also get by with one meal a day and maybe 4 hours of sleep every night, but it’s just not a good idea, is it? If you’re starting your own firm, we at Lawyers of Distinction advise you to pick an area of specialization. You might want to even zoom in a little closer than the existing subfields of law such as employment, labor, immigration, and so forth. Pick one particular area of one particular subfield, say Fair Labor Standards Act claims, and learn everything there is to know about it. You’ll soon swim circles around even many of the seasoned practitioners you will face.
It’s like riding a bike over a hill. After a certain point, everything will get much easier, but when you’re just starting your own law firm, you are going to have to gradually build up a client base. Make sure you have enough in savings to endure this period. Learn to live with less in the meantime. For a while, your lifestyle will have to be as no-frills as your business.