Opening a Law Firm

Opening a new law firm? We’ve got the information you need! Expert law practice management specialists from around the country gathered at the CBA in October 2012 and shared informative, practical information on getting a new law firm open for business. Speakers Jim CallowayReid TrautzNatalie Kelly and Catherine Sanders Reach provide just-in-time information for lawyer entrepreneurs.


Starting a Practice | Budgeting and Financing |  Building a Client Base |  Web/Social Media |  Money Talks |  All About Clients |  Managing the Matter |  Risk Management |  The Life of the Lawyer |  Pandora’s Box

Starting a Practice (15 minutes)

  • Becoming a Law Practice Entrepreneur
  • Today’s challenging business environment
  • Resources for starting a law practice
  • Life as the business owner versus as an employee
  • Business entity selection

Starting a Practice written materials & Starting a Practice slides

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Budgeting and Financing (1 hour)

  • A budget is just a forecast, an estimated financial roadmap
  • Office options (lease, share, home, virtual)
  • Insurance (health, malpractice, disability, general liability)
  • Staffing (onsite, offsite, virtual)
  • Business cards/stationery
  • Internet & telephone
  • Legal research
  • Bar dues/CLE
  • CPA/bookkeeper/computer consultant fees
  • Marketing/advertising costs
  • Hardware/software
  • Office Equipment/Furniture

Budgeting and Finance written materials & Budgeting and Finance slides

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Practice Development: Building a Client Base (45 minutes)

  • The fundamentals of marketing: What is marketing? How does it differ from advertising and sales?
  • The importance of a marketing plan: what is it and why have one?
  • How to choose/market a practice area (niche, general, traditional)
  • Marketing ideas that really work
  • Assessing your marketing strengths and weaknesses
  • How have you built your network for referrals?
  • The role of client service in lawyer marketing
  • How useful do you find good old-fashioned personal contact when it comes to establishing relationships?
  • Yellow page advertising—is it worth the price?
  • advertising rules

Building a Client Base written materials & Building a Client Base slides

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Web/Social Media (15 minutes) 

  • Creating a valuable website
  • Does social media matter? The role of LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and other media in your marketing efforts
  • Online directories

Web and Social Media materials & Web and Social Media slides

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Money Talks (45 minutes) 

  • Representation agreements/engagement letters
  • Setting Fees
  • Trust Accounting
  • Retainers
  • Taking Credit Cards
  • Your Invoice (the more compelling part of your communication)
  • Time/Billing/Accounting software
  • Collections
  • Record keeping and Taxes

Money Talks written materials & Money Talks slides

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All About Clients (45 minutes) 

  • Your Clients: You can’t be a lawyer without clients
  • Client communications: Easy in theory, often hard in practice
  • Establishing reasonable client expectations
  • Building client service and satisfaction systems
  • Dealing with “bad news” and “bad clients”
  • Conflict checks
  • Communication tools
  • Client satisfaction tools

All About Clients written materials & All About Clients slides

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Managing the Matter (45 minutes) 

  • File management/collaboration
  • Digital files, paper files and the “myth” of the paperless office
  • Practice management software (+including litigation)
  • File retention
  • Workflow/checklists/procedures
  • Project management

Managing the Matter written materials & Managing the Matter slides

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Risk Management (1 hour) 

  • Insurance (malpractice/professional liability; cyberinsurance)
  • Security
  • Backup
  • Business Continuity
    • Succession Planning (what if I go belly up)
    • Buddy backup
  • Avoiding grievance and malpractice complaints
    • What are the biggest ethical traps for the new solo practitioner?
    • Can I pay referral fees to referring attorneys or my staff?
    • When a lawyer leaves a law firm (to start their own)
    • Sharing space with unaffiliated lawyers
    • Meeting your pro bono obligations
    • Procrastination
    • Competency

Risk Management written materials & Risk Management slides

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The Life of the Lawyer (45 minutes) 

  • Work balance
    • Mobile lawyer
  • Time management
  • Handling Stress

Life of a Lawyer slides

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Pandora’s Box (15 minutes)

  • Random pre-submitted audience questions

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