When you start your law firm, you need to create an entity and register it in the state (if you are in the US) or country that you will do business. Most legal companies are formed corporations that are dedicated to professional services such as the practice of medicine, law, dentistry, or accounting. You can also set yourself up as a professional limited liability company (P.L.L.C.). This entity is a limited liability company that is specifically designed for some of the professional services companies mentioned above. You could also always set your company up as a limited liability company (L.LC.).
If you choose an LLC make sure that you have the proper operating agreement to spell out the relationship between the partners. Speaking of partners, you can also set your legal business up as a general partnership (G.P.) or a limited partnership (LP). Legal companies can also be set up as a non-profit organization if you are practicing in areas such as providing legal services to individuals in poverty. Regardless of which entity you choose, make sure that you file the proper paperwork and register with any administrative bodies so that you can start conducting business.
Create a Business Plan
Before starting your legal services company, you should create a business plan. Your business plan should give a general overview of how your law company will become a profitable business. It should contain a three-year projection of your revenue and expenses. Here, you will explain in detail how your company will be financed at inception, whether through your own investment or through a loan, and how that money will be spent. You should also include three years of your projected accounting records that shows when your company will break even.
Your business plan should describe your marketing plan and how you will advertise to get clients. It should also address the specific areas of law that you will practice in and how much you will charge for each type of legal services that you provide. Make sure that your plan includes any cost of insurance, documents, office equipment, licensing fees, computers, software and transportation costs. You should decide ahead of time whether or not you're going to be taking cases that require large upfront investment like personal injury cases that are represented on a contingency basis. In cases like these, you have to be prepared to not receive cash for long periods of time. Your business plan should also describe how you or any partners that you work with will be paid. Most companies do not make a profit for at least two years, and you will have to make it clear how you will receive distributions from your legal entity without damaging the cash flow of the business.
Business Plan for Law Company
A Business Plan is a formal document that is used to outline all the aspects of a business.
Finding clients will be the most important thing to do when you first start out. As a result of being new, you may have to take some cases that other firms will not take. Word of mouth is the best way to start. Send an email to everyone you know and let them know that you are starting a legal services company and if they need any legal help you are there for them. The next thing you should do is sign up for any programs that your local courthouse offers such as appointed counsel in criminal cases. Make sure to join your local Bar Association and start introducing yourself to other lawyers. Lawyers refer clients to each other when they need services in areas that they don't practice and so it is good to start building a network.
In looking at other ways to get clients, there are legal referral services in most bar associations that can allow you to be sent clients based on your specialty. If you have the money, you should consider advertising to get clients. Just remember it is helpful to practice in a niche area rather than saying that you're an expert in everything.
Create a Website
One of the smartest things you can do when you start a legal services company is to create a website. A good looking website is a great way to bring in clients and get your name out. You should make sure to have your website search engine optimized so that when potential clients type in keywords into Google, your name pops up under the search results. Clients should be able to provide their contact information to you through the website so that you can call them back and sign them up as soon as possible. It should also give a detailed description of the legal services that you provide and a background on your legal experience.
Decide on Case Management System
Every legal services company should have a method of how they will keep files. You can choose between paperless, paper files, or a hybrid of the two. There is software that you can buy to manage your calendar such as CaseAware or Time Matters so that you never miss a hearing or a deadline.
Find the Right Legal Forms
During company formation, it is important to start with the right legal forms in order for your that your interests are protected Starting Business offers many of these forms and templates that you can customize to your particular legal practice. You should make sure that you have the proper retainer agreements so that you can sign up clients. If you hire employees, then you're going to need tax forms, hiring packets, and other employment related documents. You should also have legal templates of documents such as retainer agreements, corporate registers, contracts or wills, etc. so that you can alter them when your clients need them.
Lawyer Job Description
Job description is an official list of an employee's responsibilities. It includes brief description of a position, task to be performed, qualifications and requirements for the position, etc.
Right after forming your company, you need to make sure to hire the right employees. You may need to have a set number of clients before you can hire anyone so that there is some money coming in to pay their salaries. When you are ready to hire your employees, you should first consider hiring a skilled paralegal. These legal assistants can help you with setting hearings, drafting documents, scheduling depositions, and typing out dictations. Just remember that at your legal services company, these paralegals have to be supervised by an attorney and the failure to follow this rule could result in allegations of the unauthorized practice of law.
The next type of employee you should consider hiring is an office manager. An office manager can help you with opening files, processing billing, maintaining office supplies, and processing payroll. In this way, an office manager can assist you by taking all of these tasks off your hands so that you can focus on practicing law and billing hours.
You should also consider hiring a law clerk or intern. Law clerks will often work for free in exchange for experience. Law clerks can help with drafting legal memorandums, pleadings, motions, or any other legal documents. They can also save you time by performing legal research and preparing summaries on the law in a particular area. They are a great resource to a new legal practice.
Apply for Insurance
When you start your legal services company, you need to have the proper insurance. The first insurance that you need when you start your company is malpractice insurance, in the US, or Professional Liability Insurance/ Professional Indemnity Insurance elsewhere. This will cover you if you make any serious mistakes like missing the deadline for an appeal or the statute of limitations.
Find an Office
When finding a law office for your legal services company, you should first decide whether you will have a brick and mortar office or whether you will use a virtual office for your services. Choosing between these two office types should largely be dictated by the location of your clients and whether they expect you to have a big office to hold meetings in. In addition, having a virtual office to work as a lawyer is very impractical and almost impossible. Therefore, if you do decide on a brick-and-mortar office, remember that location is everything. It's advisable to have an office in high traffic areas or especially near the courthouse. However, always take the cost of your lease into consideration in your business plan and budget.
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