The Most Common Advice on Starting a Firm
Almost a dozen attorneys have been willing to talk with me and my partner about our law firm so far. Some attorneys have offered better advice than others, but it has all been valuable in some way. These are the three things that we have heard repeatedly from attorneys. But constant advice doesn’t mean good advice.
Get Paid Up Front
Every single attorney we spoke to told us to get paid up front. It sounded like each one had a story about losing several thousand dollars at one time or another. We plan on balancing this advice with the need for experience. There is nothing wrong with taking a case for low to no fee in order to get the experience. In my opinion, now is the best time to do that sort of thing. Our overhead will be low and we don’t have to worry about paying anyone besides ourselves. And in some cases the experience will be invaluable.
Keep Overhead Low
Several of the attorneys we spoke to advised against racking up any kind of debt when opening a firm. Some even had horror stories about this person or that person who racked up lots of debt opening a big office with lots of furniture, only to go out of business shortly thereafter. We don’t plan on borrowing any money for the firm. We will each invest, at most, about three thousand dollars.
Right now the only “absolutely necessary” expenses we have are liability insurance and medical insurance. We expect costs to go up as time goes on, but there is no reason to shun this advice. I’m no accountant, but even I know that lower expenses mean more profits.
You Need an Office
In seeming contrast with the last piece of advice, most attorneys scoffed at the idea of a virtual law office. Our plan was to use the local bar association’s office and conference rooms in various attorneys’ offices to meet with clients. But after nearly every attorney recommended we have a permanent office, we are reconsidering. Now we have to weigh the cost and convenience of a home office with the benefits of a physical office. Most likely we will work from home for a few months, save some money, and rent office space when we can afford it.
But what do you think? Is this advice worth following?