Opening a law firm is starting a very specific type of business. But it is a business, and you need to run it as one. On top of having the qualifications to practice, you need to have the skills to run a business. For instance, you will need to hire employees, track labor hours, name your firm and find an office, and market your law firm. If you're just starting out, you'll want a checklist that can tell you exactly what you should do. Here are four things to put on it.
There are several types of marketing you can do, and building a website is one of your strongest choices. When you're building your website, make sure that you have the name of your firm clearly chosen. Most law firm names are the last names of the main attorneys who will be practicing. You then need to build your website. Hire this portion out, as you'll have plenty of other tasks to complete and a professional website builder will have the knowledge to make your site look professional. They'll also be able to optimize it for search engines. Other marketing tools that you can consider are billboards and radio ads. You also need to create business cards. Although they seem old-fashioned, they're still a convenient way to spread your name and ensure that clients can find you, potentially years after you have passed your cards out to them.
If you're a new practice, you might have to do a lot of the legwork in the beginning. This is especially true if you don't have much capital to work with. But when you have the opportunity, you'll want to hire a receptionist, and you'll need a paralegal at some point, too. If you're still working out of your basement, this might not be feasible right away. If you need some start-up money, consider taking out a loan to finance the first several months of pay for your employees and your building. When you're ready to hire staff, you'll need to put out an advertisement for the positions you need to fill. There are many job boards that you can post to, but when you're placing the ad, make sure you're specific enough to get qualified candidates. You can also advertise around any local two-year colleges to find people who have the skills that you're looking for. You will also need to decide if you need your own accountant or if you can take care of the financial matters yourself for a while.
Human Resources Information System (HRIS)
If you're just starting out, you probably won't have a lot of employees. But you'll still need a way to track time and attendance, their personal information, and other things that a human resources department in a larger business would do. For this, you'll need an HRIS. What is an HRIS? It's a way of tracking information that a human resources department would normally do for a business. One of the benefits of an HRIS over paper tracking, especially in a small firm, is that only people who have the correct security codes will be able to access important and private information about employees. This can help you stay away from legal troubles of your own. It also can be easier to manage because it takes away the possibility of losing documents, and it allows people to manage their own files.
Insurance and Employer Identification Numbers
You'll want to obtain the proper insurance, such as malpractice insurance. As a lawyer, you should know this, but it's important enough to highlight. You can save yourself tens of thousands of dollars in the long run if you purchase this insurance. You might also need permits, and you'll definitely need an Employer Identification Number.
When you're first starting your own firm, be prepared to do a lot of legwork. But as your business grows, you'll need more people to ensure that you have time to practice law and spend less time filing and doing administrative tasks.