Starting My Own Firm, How Hard Can It Be? – Lawyer Monthly | Legal News Magazine

Starting My Own Firm, How Hard Can It Be?

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So you’ve got to the point where you’re thinking of starting your own law firm, or something to at least get you out of the office. Can starting your own company really be that difficult? Where do you start? Below Andrea Hall, Founder and Principle of US based The Hall Law Office, LLC, discusses with Lawyer Monthly her own journey of founding a firm, and hints at some starter advice for those brave enough to embark on the feat.

This was my first question when I had looked for a job for a year and still could not nail one down. I only wanted to specialize in criminal defense and most firms wanted me to do more general practice. I thought after all the years of schooling why would I let someone else dictate how I spend my working hours. Firms require HUGE billable hours which ends up being way more than a 40-hour work week. I thought do I really want to kill myself and not do what I love. The answer was a resounding NO!

Every criminal defense attorney I met with said start your own firm. I said who does that right out of law school you must be crazy. I guess that is what malpractice insurance is for RIGHT! Ha ha ha

Well, I did and maybe I was naïve…yet that may have been a good thing because looking back now it was the best thing I could have ever done. I want you to know that it is totally possible! People may think you are crazy yet it is so possible. You must be very disciplined and dedicated to building your dreams. If you didn’t know most businesses will fail in the first 5 years. I decided my happiness depended on my success so I jumped in with both feet!

Decide your area of practice you want to work in. Take everyone you think might be able to give you advice out to lunch. I took every criminal defense attorney in the jurisdiction I wanted to work in out to lunch. They all gave me great advice and said they would help me along the way. They would refer me clients that couldn’t afford them and I could start my own business. They gave me their old statute books to get started. They answered any questions I had. They helped me with a fee agreement and holly cow what do I charge this person they just referred to my office.

I worked as a lawyer by day and a waitress by night. I would sit in court with a new client and pray they wouldn’t call my case first. I would listen to what the other lawyers had to say and I would get up and repeat what they just said. “Fake it till you make it” I did just that.

I took a class called “hanging out your shingle” through the bar association. It taught me all the ins and outs of getting malpractice insurance, opening a bank account, how to set up the trust account so you don’t get in trouble, how to pay your taxes, if you hire employees how to stay in compliance with the law and how to hire a good accountant etc. This gave me answers to a lot of the basic nuts and bolts to operating a law practice.

Most importantly I found a great mentor. He was willing to take me under his wings and show me the ropes. I gave him as much free time to his cases as my schedule would allow. How could you turn down a free education from the best in the business? I sat second chair on every trial I could with him and boy did it pay off. I was able to be part of several high-profile cases and my business ended up taking off.

Within one year of not only working 9-5 as a lawyer and a waitress at night I was able to become a full-time lawyer. Start off small and work your way up. Get a virtual office, get a free google phone number and have it transferred to your cell phone and get business cards off Vista Print. There are so many inexpensive things you can do that will help you create success along the way.

Looking back, it was the best decision I could have ever made. If you are determined and know the area of law you want to practice in go for your dreams. There are always lawyers willing to help new attorneys find their wings to fly.

This business is stressful enough the way it is and it can be worse if you are doing a job that requires you to give up your life and sanity. Life is to short follow your heart.

1 Comment
  1. Andrea says

    I enjoyed writing the article!

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