This class presents an overview of the opportunities presented by starting a 21st Century Law practice as well as a detailed nuts and bolts guide on how to get started. The class is comprised of 6 modules ranging from 15-35 minutes each, which cover (1) the socio-economic context for starting a firm and changes in the legal profession; (2) the 6 characteristics of a 21st Century practice; (3) FAQs on where to locate, how to find clients and whether to generalize or specialize; (4) Rules and Tools for getting started (including elements of a successful website and free tools) and (5) Setting and Getting Fees. This class is directed at existing law students, new grads, displaced lawyers and others considering starting a firm but who have been deterred by law school and peers. It is also intended for free use by law schools who want to present the concept of starting a practice to students.
Overview of context for starting a firm
This is four page checklist for starting a law firm. One of the matters on the checklist which I didn't address in any of the other modules is choosing a corporate structure for your firm. Most lawyers starting out often begin as a sole proprietorship and incorporate when they rent office space or begin using outside support staff. In contrast to ordinary businesses, a lawyer's most significant source of liability are malpractice claims and a corporate structure will not insulate lawyers from malpractice. Nevertheless, some lawyers do opt for creating a corporate entity - either an LLC (or a professional limited liability company or professional corporation - it's jurisdiction dependent) - and this blog post from Apex Legal (see here - http://www.apexlg.com/?p=468) offers a good discussion of options.
This is a 35 minute presentation on making cold calls to prospective referral sources and clients. It's not easy but the results are usually very worthwhile.
Carolyn Elefant is a lawyer in Washington D.C. with an energy regulatory practice and also a national author and speaker on solo and small firm law practice. In December 2002, Carolyn launched the blog, MyShingle.com - the longest running and most comprehensive blog on solo and small firm practice. Carolyn is also author of Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be and co-author, with Nicole Black of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier. Carolyn has advised hundreds of law school graduates and practicing lawyers on starting and growing a successful law practice. Above all, Carolyn is on a mission to ensure that in these changing times, solo and small firm practice remains a sustainable and viable career path for lawyers.