The Start-up checklist: How to Setup a Law Firm
Team SoOLEGAL 30 Dec 2016

The Start-up checklist: How to Setup a Law Firm

The demand for the services of a law firm has been as regards the rise in recent period. Many of such firms are in existence today compare to what obtained in the early 90s. The truth is that, people are getting more aware of their human rights, and as the crime rate increases, law suits too are

If you are thinking of setting up your own law firm, then this is the right article for you, as it gives you a vivid checklist and consequently sets the pace for you. However, this is a basic and simple checklist which could actually vary depending on your individual needs, the type of law you will practice, staffing needs, and various other individual and demographic factors.

 1. Give a name to your Law Firm

The way to begin is to make the most important decision of giving your firm an appropriate name. There is no doubt that this is one of the most vital decisions to be made as your firm will be identified and remembered with the name you select.

Usually, the names of the Lawyers involved in founding the firm are a reliable way to go. However, some may feel that this naming convention will not successfully distinguish their firm and make it appealing to potential clients, and instead go with a name relating to their area of practice.

So, first things first, get a suitable and appealing name for your firm.

2. Choose a strategic and comfortable location

Generally, business men are pre-occupied with getting strategic and comfortable locations. Though to some degree, the importance of location for a small business is debatably decreased in the context of law firms, but it is still a key consideration.

Some advocates, especially when they are starting out, may make a decision to work from home due to financing considerations. On the other hand, meeting with their clients and running a practice at home is usually not a viable long-term option. So, selecting an office location from the very beginning may be meaningful. Also, sharing space in an office may decrease the financial impact on the lawyer or firm just starting out.

It is therefore important to get a strategic and comfortable location for your firm.

3. Obtain necessary permits and licenses

It is really illogical and ironical to have an unlawful or unregistered law firm. The way to fail in setting up a successful law firm is to move on to set up one without obtaining government approval. The truth is that your practice will almost surely need national and may be additional state or local licensing requirements which of course vary from one country to the other and even from one locality to the other within a country.

To set the things in a straight line, get all necessary authorizations for your Law firm.

4. Procure your office equipments

Procuring the essential office equipments for your law firm is the next thing to do. The necessary furniture you need to procure includes; book shelves, chairs, desks, cabinets, recycling baskets and trash cans. The second set of things you need to put in place are electronics which mainly include telephone system and requisite service, fax machine, computers, software, printers, scanners, photocopy machine and calculator.

Make sure you procure only basic furniture and electronics in the beginning.

5. Obtain needed supplies

After you have procured your office equipments, it is time to get the required supplies. A law office typically requires all the usual office equipment including paper, a vast supply of sticky notes, envelopes, pencils, pens, staplers, file folders, 2 and 3 hole punches, a date stamp, binders, rubber bands, tape, staple remover, paper clips, colored sticky notes, and more. It might be best to visit the nearest office supply store or online store, and buy it all you need at one go.

Put in place all the needed supplies for daily use and save your precious time.

6. Hire additional staff

This is the stage where you have to start thinking about getting staff work with. It is likely that if you are a real hands-on type of lawyer and you could handle the daily tasks involved in running the firm by yourself and really cut costs, but it is really not going to sound like a good use of your precious time to spend half your day filing, paying bills, and answering the phones. Once you have got your firm up and running, those kinds of administrative and office tasks will become utterly time-absorbing and you will likely need someone’s help to deal with them.

Therefore, you need competent and skilled staff to handle some of your administrative or clerical duties.

7. Up to date your library

A library to law firms may appear to be a luxury. But the truth is a lawyer needs a decent library to function appropriately. Remember, a decent library is not only costly, but is a persistently ongoing expenditure due to the evolving nature of the law. Most practice guides, and of course, all case laws are continually being updated and it is an expensive proposition to have an up to date library. However, selecting a location near an accessible law library can eliminate this expenditure, and availing one’s self of online resources can also be considered as well.

So, put in place a decent and up to date library while making use of online resources.

8. Accounts, Budgets and Insurance

Open essential accounts for your office such as trust account; prepare a budget for the firm and above all, obtain necessary insurance. Putting all of these in place will give you a competitive edge over other law firms. It will not suffice to have no bank account, budget and insurance. The absence of these will only weaken your financial strength thereby leaving your firm at the mercy of your competitors.

Therefore, make sure you go the additional mile so as to have an extra edge over other law firms.

9. Plan your marketing strategies

As a law firm marketing and advertising should be important considerations. In today’s business world, there are so many forms of offline and online marketing strategies available. Yellow pages, online advertising, newsletters, brochures, and business cards are various options can be considered.

So, look for appropriate ways to promote your services.

10. Set up necessary office systems

Firms do their everyday operations differently from each other. The day-to-day operation of a law firm requires establishing various methodologies. The following are some of the key systems:

Docketing and calendaring systems – A firm absolutely must have a system in place, electronic or otherwise, for case docketing and scheduling. A lawyer should know immediately that he or she will not be able to rely at all on memory for anything related to their work.

Accounting – There are so many accounting software are available for accounting purposes and of course, hiring an accountant or making friends with one is always a good idea.

Time tracking and billing – Keeping clients happy and making money go hand-in-hand via the establishment of a good time tracking and billing system. If clients are billed regularly, properly and in a timely manner for work as it is done, one of lawyers’ common headaches- the angry client calling about billing can be more often avoided.

Filing – Accessing files effortlessly and finding documents on a short notice is important to a lawyer and establishing a reliable filing system is crucial. Although the methods out there are countless, picking one and consistently using it is of the utmost importance to the organized lawyer.

Conflict – Establishing a system for running conflict checks should be a consideration for the lawyer. For those who just out of law school, this is not a usual problem, but it is good to establish the system early.


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