Many newly minted lawyers dream of one day hanging their own shingles. You may be ready to start your own law firm, but unsure of where to begin. Many lawyers, when they first start out, will work out of their home, use their personal cell phone and obtain liability insurance and a simple case management system. This post will explore the steps beyond that if your dream is to build and expand a practice. Create A Business Plan How To Create A Law Firm Business Plan One of the first steps in starting a law firm is to create a business plan. This is a document that summarizes your goals and details about operations. It serves as a basis for creating the firm, as well as a roadmap for the future. Here are some key elements to include in a law firm business plan: Executive summary stating what your company is Firm description Goals and a discussion of how your firm will be successful Market analysis Organization of members and management overview Services offered and practice areas Marketing strategy and sales goals Financial plan, including funding needs and fee structure Financial projections and start-up budget Budget And Financing Creating a Budget and Financing a New Law Firm Another essential part of starting any new business is figuring out the financial details. When you begin thinking about your new law firm, you need to have a solid understanding of how much it will cost to begin operations and how to get the money you need. Your initial budget should include everything from startup costs to necessary purchases of hardware and software, including personal computers and case management software. Long-term budgeting should consider: Recurring subscriptions Annual bar dues Personal liability insurance premiums Law firm marketing costs Malpractice insurance premiums Workers’ compensation insurance costs Unemployment insurance costs Other expenses for employee benefits It is possible to start a firm with less than $5,000 in the bank; however, these small businesses often need other financing options down the road. That’s where Lendio comes in. Lendio offers new law firms financing options with a single 15-minute application. Technology And Services Legal Technology And Services You May Need The legal industry utilizes a plethora of legal technology and tools that can help lawyers operate a successful practice. While many of these services are not required to practice law, they can make your operation much more efficient, saving time for your staff and money for your clients. Basic Hardware New Law Firms Need You will need several pieces of hardware to communicate with other attorneys, clients, and courts. Some of the basic hardware you need include: Computers (preferably laptops) Printers Scanners Phones You can easily create a paperless law firm wherein you don’t need physical filing cabinets, but that will require additional software and data storage systems. Software New Law Firms Need There is an array of innovative software for law firms on the market. These programs benefit attorneys, staff, and clients by making work easier and helping everyone stay organized. Some important software you’ll want to consider for your new law firm include: Legal practice management system (LPMS)/Case management software Word processing software (such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs) PDF readers and editing software (such as Adobe Acrobat) Interoffice communications (such as Slack or Google Hangouts) Email software (such as Google or Yahoo) Office calendaring software Client relationship management software (CRM) Data threat security tools (such as Webroot or Norton) Data Or Cloud Storage You will need a place to store client documents and other firm information, so that it can be easily accessed by key stakeholders. The most convenient method is to utilize cloud storage through a service like Dropbox. This storage system can be customized to allow internal or external users to access, upload, and download documents, pictures, and other data. Since the storage is available online, you can have access to it from anywhere, whether you are in the office or about to head to court. Phone Systems All law firms need to have a phone system, so that clients can easily reach them. While you might be inclined to use your current phone, that will quickly become overwhelming when you gain dozens (or hundreds) of clients. As you’re practice grows it will be helptful to have a dedicated phone line solely for law firm use. You should also consider using a virtual receptionist who can answer the phones when you are unavailable. This will ensure your clients and potential clients always receive great customer service. Marketing New Law Firm Marketing Legal marketing can feel overwhelming. There are a lot of moving parts, from creating a website to pay per click (PPC) advertising on Google and other platforms. While some firms spend tens of thousands on law firm marketing, that’s not necessary when you’re just beginning your firm. You should create a marketing plan that considers your clients’ needs and how you can meet them in the most efficient way possible. Branding Your New Law Firm Branding is one of the most essential parts of new law firm marketing. You want to use effective branding to connect with your clients and put your best foot forward. Develop a logo, slogan, and tone of voice that match your style. Your brand should be presented on everything that you create, from your website to your business cards. Creating A Website Law firms need to have an online presence. However, it doesn’t have to cost five figures to create a website. If you have time, you can create your own website with templates available online. You may outsource content and SEO (search engine optimization) services to reduce costs and still get good copy. However, there are legal marketing agencies out there who will develop law firm websites for reasonable prices. Other Considerations For Running A New Law Firm In addition to starting your new law firm, you will have to run it on a day-to-day basis. To do this, you should consider: Organizational charts, including accountabilities of staff Hiring and staffing considerations Outsourcing whenever possible Coaching and mentorship to achieve goals Get Your New Law Firm Started With Lendio Lendio offers many financing options for new law firms. We want to see you succeed. Learn more about funding options for law firms from Lendio.