Starting a Law Firm and Managing Expectations
This post is from the first blog I started, called “How to Start a Law Firm.” Over the years I’ve moved to different sites a few times and wanted to catalog all of my content in one place. If an article refers to a link and there is no link, sorry, that’s consequence of the move. Enjoy!
When I started my law firm less than a year ago, I had a one year plan, a five year plan, and a ten year plan. The one year plan was aggressive but achievable. The five year plan even more aggressive. And the ten year plan had the sky as the limit. I think when you are thinking about starting your law firm and trying to determine what you can expect (and I’m talking about money for the most part here), I think it’s important to manage expectations. It is really easy for the math to get out of hand in your head, and disappoint you early.
For example, at my law firm, one of my goals is to keep costs low. I currently do, and probably always will, share office space (in the future I’d actually like to own an office building, but that’s very far down the road). It helps to spread out costs among several businesses. I have a very streamlined approach to everything I do. I don’t spend a bunch of money on marketing that doesn’t work. I am constantly evaluating the need and efficiency of our methods.
Because of that, right now my business expenses hover around $2,500 a month. Most of it is parking and rent ($1,000). That makes it really easy for me to, theoretically, make money. One DUI case is a minimum of $2,500. That means if I sign up more than one case a month, I’m starting to make some pretty significant money.
When you think about it like that, thinking about how to start a law firm becomes pretty easy. You just open up shop and the money comes in, right? Well, when you get out there in the real world, you begin to realize there are barriers to your mountain of riches. Those primarily consist of the myriad of other attorneys out there trying to do the same thing you are, and the fact that most of those attorneys have multiple years in the marketplace that you are trying to catch up on.
It’s not impossible, though, to break through those barriers. Honestly, it’s not even hard. But it does take a little bit of time. It takes time to market your law firm. It takes time to get people to your office. It takes time to gain the market share you want to have the kind of success you want.
If you don’t keep those expectations tempered during the early months, and sometimes years, of your practice, you can easily be discouraged. What separates the successful new law firm owners from those that just get by or fail is they don’t sit in the office when the phone isn’t ringing and schedule that next networking luncheon with all the other unsuccessful attorneys.
They don’t continue to read blogs and articles on starting a successful law firm. They do. They get out there and get their hands dirty. They write blogs instead of read them. They market on the internet. They market to their ideal customer. They do whatever it takes to get to where they want to go.
As you begin, or continue, on your journey to starting a law firm, remember this – there is a boatload of money out there for you; there is a boatload of job satisfaction out there for you; and there is a boatload of personal satisfaction out there for you. But, like most anything else, you have to work for it. We live in a great country, but it’s dog eat dog out there. So, stop wasting time, stop reading these articles, and get to work!