When you feel as though you’re ready to start your own criminal defense law firm, you’ll need to begin preparing for this as you would prepare for any goal. This means creating a checklist that can help you stay on target and achieve your dream without forgetting the necessary steps. The checklist you create for yourself should essentially be a series of smaller goals that you’ll need to achieve in an orderly process. This guide can help you identify the steps you’ll need to take in starting your firm.
Develop a Business Plan
Even though your goal is to provide your expertise as a criminal attorney to those in need, your law firm will still be a business in the strictest sense. This means you’ll be required to start out with a comprehensive business plan that identifies your primary goal with a mission statement and strategy.
Additionally, your business plan should include a budget for the operation of your firm, and you should have a marketing plan that identifies what you’ll spend on advertising your services each month. To counter your monthly expenses, your business plan should identify short-term goals for earning income each month. This will require developing a plan for bringing in a specific amount of new clients on a regular basis.
Determine if You’ll Need a Brick and Mortar Office
In 2021, operating out of a traditional brick and mortar office isn’t essential. You can always set up a home office that allows you to meet clients to avoid the need for a formal office. Most of your tasks can either be performed online or through a third-party service, so maintaining a traditional office is no longer a necessity. Additionally, working from home and maintaining a virtual online presence can save you the significant costs associated with renting office space or buying a commercial building.
Build a Mobile-Friendly Website
It’s no longer enough to just have a website. In the modern digital age, it’s important for your site to have a few necessary features that can help improve its function as the gateway to your solo practice. This starts with creating a site that looks as beautiful and functions as efficiently on mobile devices as it does on a full-size desktop computer.
The importance of this cannot be understated when you consider that over 50% of web browsing is done on a phone or another type of mobile device. It can help to hire a professional web designer to build your site to ensure it has all of the features it needs, including providing efficient methods for clients to communicate with your staff.
Add a Blog
While a blog is an essential part of your website, it also deserves its own section due to the important role it plays in earning your site greater visibility. When you use SEO-friendly tactics in creating informative and engaging blog posts, your site will be ranked higher in relevant search results. This relies on creating posts that are relevant to the services you offer because your blog will help you earn credibility with search engine crawlers. This process of creating regular blog posts will also help you earn return visits from online users who have an interest in your content.
Create Social Media Accounts
Even when you have the budget to buy paid online advertising, making use of the free resources that are available to you will help you get a bigger return on your investment. While your blog’s primary purpose is to help you rank higher in search results, it can also be used to help you develop a social media following. Once you have created social media accounts for your new law firm, you should begin creating posts that fit each platform’s restrictions and link back to the relevant blog posts. If you make each social media post public and use relatable hashtags, you can boost the number of users who will see your posts.
Funding Your Launch
Whether you practice as a criminal attorney out of your home or out of a separate office, you’ll need funding to start your practice. You should begin by creating a startup budget that accounts for everything you’ll need to buy or lease for your practice. This includes furnishings, equipment, law books, and other supplies that you’ll need in the day to day operations of your practice.
If you can maintain a part-time job during the early months of starting your practice, you can use that influx of income to help you fund your practice. Additionally, you can use crowdfunding, peer lending, and other resources to help you get the capital you need to get started.
Start Building a Network
Attorneys known for ambulance-chasing get a bad reputation, but this isn’t the same thing as networking. You should spend time getting to know prosecutors, judges, and other criminal defense attorneys in your area. This will help you become more familiar with the legal community in your area. When you develop professional relationships, you may be recommended to those in need of an attorney in the future. You’ll also be more likely to receive invitations to charity events, fundraising dinners, and regional conventions where you’ll have the opportunity to expand your network even further.
Staffing Your Law Firm
Starting out, you may not want to hire much of a staff. If you do hire some personnel, you should only hire those who you really need for the efficient operation of your legal services. Many duties, such as accounting, IT, and similar technical services, can be outsourced to third-party companies at much cheaper rates than the costs of paying your own employees. Once your firm has a steady influx of clients, you can hire more personnel. In the meantime, outsourcing and performing extra roles yourself can save you a bundle on your operating expenses.
There will likely be other details that you’ll need to address as you go through this process. Some people find it helpful to consult a mentor as they start their own firms, taking advice from the mentor in setting up their solo practice for success. If you have been networking throughout your career, you may already know someone willing to guide you as you take on this step in your career. With the proper insight, you can avoid many common mistakes in getting your legal practice off the ground.