If you are contemplating your own law office, here is a basic checklist to get your practice up and running. The checklist will vary on the type of office you set up, the type of law you practice, whether you will be a solo practitioner along with some other factors.
Name Your Firm
This can be one of the more important decisions you will, it is how your firm will be identified. Typically the founding attorneys name the practice after themselves and this had been a tradition for years. The only drawback to this is that it doesn’t distinguish your firm nor does it indicate the areas of law you practice. The same thought should be put into the domain of your practice’s website.
Location, Location, Location!
Most law firms choose to find office space either near the courthouse for the sake of convenience, particularly those who practice criminal law or they locate near the business district if they plan to work with business clients. Many solo practitioners are opting for shared office space to offset the costs, especially when you initially set up your practice.
Permits, and Licenses
You will have to check with the state and the municipality for any permits that you may need, but you will most likely need a federal Employer ID Number (EIN) as well.
You’re going to need some basic office furniture, desks, file cabinets along with computer and telephone systems installed.
A solo practitioner may decide to handle all of the details by himself, but at some point you may need to hire some staff. Once your practice is up and running then you should have someone to handle clients and the administrative duties. As your practice grows so will your demand for support staff.
Set Up Any Necessary Office Systems
When you set up your own firm there are procedures put in place to keep this running smoothly.
- Calendar systems– Every firm needs to have a calendar system in place, you need to know when you have appointments and when you need to be in court.
- Accounting– There are tons of different software systems in place, work with your accountant to set up the easiest system for your practice.
- Time tracking and billing– A lawyer bills based on the time worked on your case. Time tracking and billing systems are integral to keeping track of what work you do for each client.
- Filing Systems– Every firm needs an accurate method of filing, a lawyer needs information case files at their fingertips. However you decide to set it up is up to you but it needs to be organized.
The Bottom Line
Opening your own law firm is one of your biggest career challenges, but it will also be the most rewarding thing you can do. Having control over your own destiny is well worth the work.