According to the American Bar Association, there are over 1.3 million practicing attorneys in the US. This means that the competition is stiff. But, smart lawyers looking to set up their own shop can do great.
Starting your own law firm can be very challenging and cost intensive though. This is probably why new founders think that scrimping and saving every cent will help keep them afloat.
But, it doesn't have to be if you're strategic about your expenses. There are ways to save money, whilst still having the appearance of a well-run law office. The following tips should help.
Keep Operations Lean
Swanky plush offices are the hallmark of successful law practices. But it takes years, lots of clients and/or money to get that. As an upstart law firm that specializes in estate planning, this is not the way to go. If you have any savings, an opulent office shouldn't be your first option.
Instead, work from your home office, or rent a moderate-sized space, and have an open floor plan. Just have one room for private conversations.
But, if you have high-value clients who expect an upscale office, you can rent an office in an upscale area. But to save costs, why not split the rent with two or more solo practices. That way, you get to have your offices without spending too much.
If you can't afford expensive places, try moderately affordable areas with excellent spaces. Rent for a one-room office in moderately-priced areas typically cost between $500 and $1500 per month.
Oh, there's also the co-working space option, which costs around $250 per month.
Only Get the Absolute Necessities
A new law firm needs just a few basics: an office space, computing equipment -a laptop will suffice, a means of contacting you, and a way to get people to know about you.
These are the most important things you need. Once you understand this, it's easy to prioritize where your capital goes. Most new lawyers or founders over complicate these things.
Once you have a space where you can meet with clients, a way for those clients to find you, and a way for them to reach you, you're good.
This will translate into more savings for you, as you won't have to spend money on frivolous activities or items.
Also, build a website. 74 percent of prospects tend to visit a law firm's website with the intention of engaging their services. Now, you don't need an ultra-expensive one. A simple wordpress website will do. If you have the time to learn, you might even be able to build it yourself.
All you need is a good legal themed website. Many theme providers offer this and will even provide you with an option of customizing the theme.
You can just pay the extra fees, and your website will be live. Just make sure that there's a way to reach you from the website -a boldly displayed phone number, an address, a contact form that goes to your email and your face.
If you don't have the technical skills, just look for savvy website designers, and engage them to build a simple website for you.
Negotiate Utility Bills
This includes phone, water, electricity, HVAC, etc. If you can, just rent an office where this is already available. It'll make your life easier as you'll not have to worry about any of that.
All you have to do is make the payment once, and you're settled for the rest of the month.
However, if there's one thing you should get privately, it's your wi-fi. You want your network to be private, so your information and data don't get intercepted by third parties. So, don't scrimp on your internet. That's a must-have.
See if there are ways to negotiate the rest. Maybe offer to make the payment for those every quarter. If you can't afford it though, don't sweat it. Just do the monthly payments.
Find Ways to Save Money on Marketing
A key aspect of starting your own law firm is marketing. No matter how great your office looks, if you can't get clients through the door, you're simply wasting money.
Currently, about 65 percent of all law firms do the bulk of their marketing online. They do this because it works. The most popular forms of marketing for someone starting a new law firm and on a budget is content marketing.
You simply find questions that prospects are asking, create content around it, optimize it for your target area and promote it.
Others just buy leads from popular lead gen sources like Avvo, Nolo, and Findlaw. This strategy works really well if you're looking to hit the ground running.
Another cost-saving but effective marketing strategy is to find marketers and other people to partner with. Some legal digital agencies are in the business of generating leads and clients for you, for a slice of the pie.
This works quite well and gets you a lot of business without huge marketing costs. Also, look for potential partnerships in your area of specialty.
Cut Back on Expenses
This includes overhead costs too. As much as you'd like to have a full-fledged law firm, this is not the right time to start hiring a lot of talents. See if you can handle most tasks yourself.
Most new law practice owners can do this. They can file their briefs, set their meetings, meet their clients, represent them and process payments. It's not as difficult as it seems.
There's no need to hire paralegals for work you can do yourself or outsource to competent hands online. In case you didn't know, there are many reputable freelance websites where you can find experienced paralegals who can draft legal documents and meet your needs.
You can just hire them on an as-needed basis, instead of worrying about their health insurance, salaries, and other unnecessary expenses.
Is That All on Starting Your Own Law Firm?
Pretty much, yes. These cost-cutting measures will help make starting your own law firm easy. More importantly, it'll help keep your doors open for at least a year; which is enough time for you to start generating revenue.
If you'd like to know more and set up better systems to grow your practice faster, check out our proven expert legal education services.