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Chapter 1/6

Should You Start a Law Firm?

How to Start a Law Firm

3 min read

Is Now the Time to Start a Law Firm?

Law practice is a business and a profession. To start a law firm successfully, you must agree to see it as both.

The skills to run a business and practice law aren’t the same. While many skills you need to practice law will help you in your business, running your business will require you to tackle different problems than practicing law. And, these challenges don’t go away as your business matures and grows. They change and challenge you in new ways.

Let us guess. You’re here because you’re in one of these situations:

  • You’re drowning in your current firm. You’re exhausted, overworked, and know there has to be a better way.

  • You’re just out of school. You know you don’t want to go into big law. 

  • You used to have your own firm but abandoned it. Now you’re wondering if that was a mistake.

And now you’re wondering: Should I start my own law firm? And if so, how do I start my own law firm?

We’ll hit the ‘how’ in a bit. Let’s start with the ‘should.’

We’ll tell you the big secret: You shouldn’t start your own firm if you love being a lawyer. 

Enjoying the law helps—of course it does. But, you should only start a law firm if you’re interested in running a business and all it entails.

Yes, we know you weren’t taught business skills in law school. (We think this should change.) And, you might not have those skills right now. Yet, if you want to start your own firm, you must begin with the desire to learn and embrace the business finesse it will take to succeed.

Practicing Law and Owning a Business Are Different 

Think about his: One December 23rd, an exasperated attorney called Lab Coach Stephanie, frustrated that the associate he had spent so much time training had just given notice. “Listen. I just want to practice law and maybe do some business development work. I don’t want to deal with all this other stuff!”

This attitude is just fine—if you’re working within a firm you don’t own. But, owning a business will require you to deal with “all the other stuff.” 

Are you ready to take on those challenges?

Go Deeper: Podcast Episode #284

How to Start Your Own Law Firm, with Stephanie Everett

Listen to Episode

And listen: Of course, it’s OK to decide that you don’t want to or like doing the work of running a business and choose not to start a firm. 

If you still think starting your own law firm is the right for you, think about these questions:

  • Do I actually want to be involved in the entire running of the business?

  • Am I committed to being a business owner and leader – not just an attorney?

  • Do I consider the time I spend working on the business billable work?

Got three yesses? OK then!

You Should Start a Law Firm 

If you’re a lawyer with an entrepreneurial spirit, a tolerance for risk, and goals around what you want to build, you can and should start your own law firm. 

There are many benefits to being the owner of your own firm, including:

  • The ability to do more than practice law. Sure, your legal services will be your bread and butter, but you’ll also be able to build a business on your terms.

  • Control when choosing your clients. Most attorneys have a specific type of law they wish to practice. With your own firm, you choose your clients and cases.

  • The chance to develop a business model that works for you (and your clients and team). As someone else’s employee, you may have little control over the firm’s business model. As the owner of your own firm, you make the decisions, including those tied to your business model.

While there are a ton of benefits, there are challenges, too. Starting a law firm can feel overwhelming at times—and that’s if you do it right. 

As a new business owner and entrepreneur, you have to go all in. Be ready to put in the time and energy it will take to get your business off the ground, knowing that everything you accomplish each day is investing in your firm’s future health and well-being. 

Bottom line: If you’ve read through this and still feel the pull of your own legal practice, then you’re in the right place. Let’s move on to the “how.” 

We’ll cover financing next.