Should You Start Your Own Law Practice

So you're thinking of starting your own law practice? Before you jump in, you should consider the following questions:

  1. Have You Formed a Business Plan - Have you explored the need for the legal services you intend to offer within your community or potential client base? Have you considered the level of competition you will encounter from other lawyers and firms, as well as how the prevailing rates for services will affect your bottom line?

  2. Are You Properly Capitalized - Do you have enough money and resources to carry your firm through the start-up phase, to the point when it becomes profitable? Do you have a plan for what you will do if you run short of money? To what extend will worry about money affect your enjoyment of your practice and your life?

  3. Can You Take a Pay Cut - Some lawyers will earn considerably more money after they start their own practices than they would have earned while employed by another lawyer or firm. In many cases, though, it takes years to build a practice to that point. Some lawyers will consistently make less money working their own practices than they earned as employees.

  4. Have You Picked the Right Practice Area - When you start a law firm you can anticipate that you will be practicing within your chosen area for the next ten years or more. Does that prospect excite you? Frighten you? Bore you?

  5. What's Your Marketing Plan - What do you plan to do to bring business to your law firm? Have you examined whether your marketing plan includes components that have succeeded for other lawyers and firms?

  6. What's Your Networking Plan - How will you connect with other people and professionals in the community who might refer clients or provide support or mentorship.

  7. What's Your Tolerance for Frustration - As with any business, your law practice will inevitably encounter issues or problems that are extremely frustrating, from personnel issues, to problems with your offices or landlord, to difficult clients, to financial difficulties. How well do you cope with that type of frustration?

  8. What Does Your Support Network Look Like - Do you have support from your friends and family, and other people in your life? Will they understand the time commitment you will need to make in order for your practice to succeed? Do you have another lawyer who has agreed to step in to cover your cases in the event of a vacation, emergency or illness?

  9. What Are Your Biggest Weaknesses - What aspects of your skill set, experience and personality are likely to create problems for you as you open and build your own practice, and how might you overcome potential stumbling blocks?

  10. How Will You Feel if Your Practice Fails - Let's face it, some law practices don't succeed. If yours turns out to be one of the failures, how will you feel? What will you do next?

If you have carefully evaluated the pros and cons and have come to the conclusion that starting a practice is right for you, I know from personal experience that it is possible and I sincerely wish you the best of luck in your endeavor.

Copyright © 2015 Aaron Larson, All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of the copyright holder. If you use a quotation, excerpt or paraphrase of this article, except as otherwise authorized in writing by the author of the article you must cite this article as a source for your work and include a link back to the original article from any online materials that incorporate or are derived from the content of this article.

This article was last reviewed or amended on Feb 15, 2016.