I though I’d do a more informative post this time. Some people ask me “hey Caroline, how did you get started in law?” Well, I kind of have a long story to share, but I’ll make it short here. Basically, I started off working as a solo a few years after I passed the bar. Here, I’m going to share a few considerations with you if you are an attorney trying to start a solo practice, or if you are just an aspiring lawyer.
Most people think it takes a trust fund or a huge investment portfolio to allow you to quit your law firm job and go solo. The fact is you can start your own firm with a lot less. There are many ways that you can use modern technology to your advantage and co-op with others to save on overhead. This article will discuss a few ways I found to make solo practice a cost-effective business.
You Don’t Need a Lawyer’s Office
Many lawyers think they need a big office to attract clients. This is far from the truth. Most of your local clients don’t really want a big time lawyer. They want an approachable, friendly person in the community to guide them through the legal process. In fact, if you have a really fancy office, many potential clients might think that you are too expensive! They might drive right past your office in search of a more affordable choice. Therefore, it is best to look for a small, quaint office that is nice but does not scream “I want all your money.” Be the small, local guy, not the big law firm on the block.
Another thing you can look into is a virtual office. Virtual offices are like timeshares for office space. You have to pay an insignificant monthly fee for access to the offices, and you can rent conference rooms for depositions or multi-client interviews. Virtual offices are great because they look professional and your clients will feel like you are a true professional too! You can get the best of both worlds without breaking your pocketbook. Many of these companies also have actual office space on site that you can transition into when you are rolling in the dough.
Use Virtual Help
You don’t need a legal secretary on a hefty salary for most practice areas. You can actually do a lot of that work on your own. If you need another hand around the office, think about hiring a virtual assistant. You will be able to pay this person on a per project basis, and you don’t have to deal with all of the ups and downs of dealing with an actual employee. The best part is that there are many virtual assistants out there that work primarily in the legal field. This means you won’t have to spend much time training the person, and you can easily turn over tasks to them while you concentrate on other matters. Look for virtual assistants on sites like eLance and Fiverr.
Integrate Technology into Your Practice
Nowadays everyone is used to using technology. You don’t need to pay a bill for an office phone when you have a perfectly fine cell phone that clients can call you on. You can also use online document sharing sites to get clients documents instead of setting in-office appointments. Furthermore, with services like Skype or Google Hang Outs, you can have meetings with clients right from the comfort of your home instead of dealing with the hassles of going down to an office location. Technology is everyone’s friend in the modern world. Use it to save you money and to save your clients’ some time.
Share Costs with Other Lawyers
If you and a friend are in the same solo-practice situation, agree to share some costs to increase your profits. Many lawyers are agreeable to sharing office space, legal research tools, and even parking spaces near the courthouse. For example, a group of criminal attorneys might want to join together to save money and also help each other on cases. Find out what your friends and acquaintances are doing and try to come up with a plan to make it easier on you both. Don’t worry about seeming cheap. Everyone likes to save money and keep more of those retainers in their pockets!