Saturday, June 8, 2024

How To Start A Solo Law Practice In New York

Many Regulators Have Traded In Outdated Rules On Law Firm Trade Names Yet Most Lawyers Dont Realize It

Looking to Start a Solo Law Practice?

Post update 4/21/2021 based on comment from Will Hornsby noting that all trade name bans have been or are in the process of being eliminated. LegalZoom. HelloDivorce. HelloPreNup. One reason that we as lawyers know that these companies arent law firms is because they operate under trade names which many jurisdictions traditionally prohibited lawyers

Jdbloggers Ten Tips For Starting Your Own Law Firm

Whats a resource written by an Arizona attorney doing in an article about about starting a firm in New York you ask? How could we not! Self-employed bankruptcy attorney and JDBlogger author/podcaster John Skiba started a law firmtwice. The first time only 18 months out of law school, and the second time a few years after merging his practice into another practice and realizing firm life wasnt for him. I decided to include this resource because Skiba talks about three things that none of the other resources above discussed. First, plan but dont delay. Lawyers overthink everything. Its in our nature. We are trained to think about every contingency. Every weak spot of any issue. This is a good skill when representing clients, but horrible for being an entrepreneur. Skiba touches on the reasons why. Second, Skiba describes how, the second time he started a firm, he transitioned from a virtual law office to an law office rental once his practice could support it. A subject that that I am passionate about. Finally, Skiba talks about a serious competitive advantage that solos and smalls have over law firms: innovation. Nothing you want to try has to be run by a committee . In his own practice, Skiba is podcasting, blogging and recording videos. Skiba is all personality and it really comes across in all his content. And for this reason, New York gives a nod to AZ.


Hire When The Time Is Right

Without the right people to depend on, growing a law firm is an uphill battle. Dont be afraid to build a team that can support the business, even as the business is growing.

I mean, thats what the firm is. Its people. Its a combination of people, working together for an end goal. And that end goal is growing the business, and providing quality, legal representation to my clientele, Abraham says.

Similarly, for Kevin Vela of Vela Wood P.C.a firm that he grew to 14 attorneys and increased annual revenue by at least 40% every year for nearly a decadeone of the keys to sustainable growth was to proactively hire employees as the firm gained new clients. If you wait to hire until youre overloaded with clients and desperate for help, it could be too late, and be counter-productive to your law firms growth.

I think if you get in a position where youre so stressed and youve got too much work on your plate and youre at the point where you have to add someone, youre just adding something else to your to-do list that you dont have time to do, Kevin says.

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Where Can My Firm Find Or Advertise Available Office Space

One great place to look is the Associations Free Member Postings . You may also respond to ads in a newspapers classified section, such as the New York Law Journal, or work with a broker to find space. Of course, letting your colleagues know that you are looking for space is also very helpful. They may know about unadvertised available space!

Think About Trademarking Your Law Firms Name

Create a logo and business card for new solo law practice ...

If you have a unique brand and law firm name , you may want to trademark your law firms name. By trademarking your law firms name early, you can avoid having another law firm or business use your name in the future. Registering a trademark for your law firm involves submitting an application . You can do this online with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Solo And Small Firm Community Online Portal

Solo and Small Firm Members can join an online community portal on City Bar Central. This portal will allow you to ask questions to other members, follow each other, and post articles among other features. Please log into your city bar account and click on the icon for city bar central to join the portal.

Be Truly Available To Your Clients

This tip might seem obvious, but not everybody practices the obvious.

We all know that ABA Model Rule 1.3 requires that lawyer shall act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. What does that really mean though?

In the context of a solo attorney trying their best to represent clients, it means that you do a thorough job, that you communicate early and often, that you return phone calls and emails, and that youre actually nice to your clients when you interact with them.

These may seem like such basic things, but havent we all seen attorneys who dont do them? Its awkward and uncomfortable to watch those attorneys in action. But you should watch them, and then slip their clients your card.

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Its Time For The Fun Stuff

Are you going to go with a branded name? Maybe something in Latin? Or perhaps you want your name on the door. Whatever you pick, make it memorable so that people searching for your business online can actually find you. Note: Be sure to check ethics rules around trade names for law firms in your jurisdiction

Youll probably need to register your business with your local government, so that they can extract business license fees from you. Youll want to register for federal and state tax IDs, which really only takes a few minutes online these days.

But the real fun comes with bank accounts. Some people say to keep your trust account and one bank, and your operating account at another bank, to minimize accidents. I think thats more trouble than its worth, especially since having them at the same bank makes it easy to transfer funds and to convince your bank to charge any and all banking fees to the operating account. Most practices will need at least a trust account and an operating account.

Last, and most fun: Announce the grand opening. Reach out to your social networks, throw a mixer with family, friends, and professional networks. You want to make sure that everyone knows that you are open for business, as referrals really are the best source of quality cases.

Tip 5 For Starting A Private Practice: Create Private Practice Business Cards That Help You Stand Out

How I Started a SOLO LAW PRACTICE: Attorney Starting a Small Law Firm Tips Legal Career Job Advice

Lastly, business cards are your very first impression-maker. Dont skimp! A private practice business card should be sturdy, unique, and represent you! Get something cool, fresh, hip, and amazing, people will make the assumption that your private practice is edgy, able to handle new and complex situations, and stays up on technology. Check these things out!

Private practice business cards: $25+ depending on what you choose

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Train Your Staff On Client Management

You may be a solo practitioner, but you probably work with other paraprofessionals regularly. There may be legal support staff on your payroll, or you might leverage freelance help to keep your workload in check. Either way, youre responsible for the experience your clients have with those people.

If youre going to commit to being a great client manager and offering superb customer service to your clients, you better make sure everyone who works on your behalf has that same ethic.

If not, all your efforts at client management can be lost through one unfortunate interaction with a staff member. Remember that your clients dont know or care about the difference between work done by a freelance paralegal and the work you do yourself. It all reflects on you directly.

How To Secure Your Employees Futures

The best way to protect your employees after your retirement is to plan ahead. This requires creating a documented compensation plan that includes the wages, salaries, bonuses, and more you expect your employees to receive after you exit. This plan can be negotiated when you pass your practice to a successor or buyer.

If youre planning to close your firm, give your employees as much notice as possible so they can find another place of employment. In good faith, offer your employees their unused vacation or sick days, if applicable, to ease the financial burden of job loss. Do your best to offer letters of recommendation or perhaps help your employees find new positions with colleagues who are looking to hire.

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What About Associated Or Affiliated Designations

These designations may be used when the attorneys/firms involved have met the criteria for an of counsel relationship, an of counsel relationship already existed between the attorneys/firms, and there has been appropriate disclosure of the nature of the relationship to clients and prospective clients. Just as of counsel relationships are treated as one unit for conflicts of interest purposes, so too are associated or affiliated relationships. See, N.Y. City 2000-4.

If you have any questions about whether your contemplated designation is appropriate, please call the Associations Ethics Hotline at 212-382-6663.

Our 13th Birthday Celebration Tuition Discount Is Here

My Decision to Work from a Virtual Office Jump

Mar 31, 2022 inAnnouncements

13 Years. We simply cannot believe that Solo Practice University® has been educating and teaching lawyers how to create and grow their solo/small firm practices for 13 years. On March 21, 2009, on the first day of spring, just two months after Bloody Thursday when New York City streets were littered with young associates laid off in the greatest legal industry shake out in recent memory, we opened our virtual doors and said to the world its time to work for yourself. Today, were now navigating our way through the tail end of a historic pandemic and most are coming out of it on the other end intact and even more committed to their solo/small firm practices. Read on.

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Start A Counseling Website

When launching a website you want one that is responsive, meaning it changes based on the device being used. Also, you want to be able to adapt and change it over time when technology changes, without losing content or have to hire a web developer. Bluehost gives you that control, helps you rank higher in Google, and doesnt cost $60 per month like some Therapy Website companies.

Increasing The Value Of Your Firm Now

Even if youre not considering selling now, smart business people build a business now to increase its value in the future. Also, because these are all the best business practices, there will be no harm done by putting these things in place and deciding not to sell. Waiting, however, can make it very difficult to catch up and build value in a short period of time. Here are things you can do to better position your firm when the time comes:

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Incorporating As A Legal Entity And Obtaining A Tax Id

This one is self-explanatory but extraordinarily important. The main reason for incorporation is limited liability, which means if you’re sued, only the assets held by the company are subject to any risk. Without incorporating, you’ve opened up your personal assets to the threat of a lawsuit. Moreover, as Medical Economics notes, certain tax benefits are associated with each type of entity. Whether you incorporate as an S-corp or LLC, a C-corp or a general partnership, it’s important to do your research on each type of entity and the potential benefits it offers your practice. To figure out which business entity is right for you, visit our article “How to Choose the Best Legal Structure for Your Business.”

Dont Turn Down Opportunities For Contract Or Part

Launching a Successful Practice: Tips from Pro Solo/Small Firm Lawyers

Im sure, at this point, youve heard the term side hustle. For my generation, having a side hustle is a must if you want to get ahead of student loans, start a business, or save for rainy days.

Starting any new business is going to mean ebbs and flows of the cash flow. You might have one week where you bring in $13,000 in new business, followed by three or four weeks where you bring in zero dollars.

Hence, the side hustle. Its a great way to cushion the blow of irregular cash flow.

There are countless start-ups catering to part-time legal work now: Companies that provide appearance counsel, law clerks, or just temp gigs for lawyers. Or ask around to other lawyers in your community and see if they need help with research on big cases, or sorting through crates of discovery. Also consider doing some freelance attorney on work the side.

Take on some of this work, if you can, so that you dont end up in dire straits when your law firm revenue slows down for a month or two. But, dont overcommit eithermany of us overconfident lawyers tend to think we can handle every single job that comes in the door, leaving us with seventeen side hustles and no clear path to building a successful, sustainable law firm business.

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How To Value A Law Firm

We know its tough to place a number value on something youve spent blood, sweat, and tears building. Yet, youll need to do so to ensure you receive a fair payout when the time comes.

Valuing your law firm comes down to two questions: what are you selling and what would someone be willing to pay? Not only is a buyer purchasing your practice, but theyre also purchasing your book of business. Everything in your firm has value, from the processes you use to the clients you serve.

There are a few different methods used to value law firms, including:

  • Asset-based valuation. Put simply, this method adds up all of your firms assets and subtracts the liabilities, leaving the net value of your assets.
  • Comparable valuation. This method involves researching what other similar law firms are often sold for in your market.
  • Multiplier. This valuation method involves multiplying one years gross revenue by a factor of 0.5 to 3.0, depending on the number of clients you have, how much repeat business the new owner can expect, etc.

We recommend finding a professional to help you value your firm correctly. The last thing you want to do is short-change yourself as you walk away.

Creating A Pro Forma And Obtaining Financing

A pro forma is essentially the lighter version of a full-blown business plan, with revenue and debt projections grounded in reality. In your pro forma, account for all your medical clinic expenses, debt and anticipated revenues. Bankers can tell what projections are realistic and which aren’t it’s their job to make wise investments, so you’ll want to back up any numbers you use. A strong pro forma will project at least three years into the future, sometimes as far as five years out.

“The first thing you need to do is build a pro forma, which basically tells the story of what your revenue will be from the first until at least the third year, because you need to go out and get financing,” said Zetter. “You need to include the costs to set up the practice, your lease’s cost per square foot, your expense, medical supplies and office supplies. You’re building a crystal ball of what the practice looks like, and you have to be able to tell how all of those numbers came into being.”

Obtaining financing through a traditional bank loan can be tricky, especially considering that many healthcare providers have a negative net worth after taking on debt to attend medical school. That’s where a solid, realistic pro forma comes in. Max Reiboldt, president and CEO of the Coker Group consulting firm and author of Starting, Owning, and Buying a Medical Practice , explained the importance of a rational business plan and the absolute need for startup financing.

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How To Start Your Own Law Firm

Stacey E. Burke: 20-year lawyer, legal marketing expert and consulting business owner.


There are many reasons why a lawyer decides to start their own law firm. Some grow weary of working for demanding bosses. Others want to focus on a particular type of case or have more flexibility with their schedule. Some lawyers lose their jobs due to termination or downsizing and are left in a lurch during unanticipated downtime. Whatever the reason, starting your own law firm is an exciting and important undertaking that can and will feel overwhelming at times.

As a lawyer and business consultant, I have both started my own firm and helped hundreds of other attorneys navigate career changes, entity adjustments and other professional transitions. One of the more exciting and fulfilling parts of my consulting practice is helping lawyers go solo or strike out on their own. Since so many attorneys and soon-to-be attorneys ask me for advice about how to start their own firms, the topic deserves thorough addressing.

Six Steps To Start Your Own Law Firm

Even if you arent sure if and when youll be leaving your current job, there are several steps you can take to prepare for your inevitable exit. As with any momentous undertaking, if you look at every single task that needs accomplishing all at once, you can be deterred from even starting. Thats why its important to break down the tasks of starting a law practice into phases or segments, starting with the necessary basics:

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