You Only Need One Thing to Start Your Law Firm

A lawyer wants to start a law firm. Maybe she’s straight out of school. Maybe she’s leaving a position in a firm.

She calls me and wants to talk about getting set up.

“Do you have any clients?” I ask.

“Not yet,” she says, “But I’ve got a plan, so I want to talk to you about making sure I’ve got everything covered when I get started,” she continues.

I explain that she needs one thing and only one thing right now. She asks what I mean.

“You need a phone,” I tell her.

She’s not satisfied. She wants to talk about office space, malpractice insurance, a laptop, and a website.

“Do you have a phone now?” I ask.


“Then you’re good to go,” I tell her (I should just hang up at this point, but I’m a glutton for punishment).

She’s not satisfied. I understand. But I’m serious. The phone is all she needs until she has a client. With a phone, she can take care of everything else.

But, what about…

Office space? She can rent or borrow a conference room for her meetings.

Malpractice insurance? Until you have a client, you don’t need it. Once you’ve got a client, then take some of that money and buy it—it’s easy—they have really nice salespeople (I bet you can get them to buy you lunch). Plus, if you don’t have any assets, buying insurance might not even make sense yet.

Laptop? Get a client first. You can pick up a laptop at Best Buy in 20 minutes. Plus, you already have a laptop, right?

Website? Go get a client and stop worrying about the website. If you insist on building one, then do it with SquareSpace while you’re watching TV one night.

A paralegal? You’re kidding, right?

A copier? You’ll find these located at FedEx stores and elsewhere. They’re just sitting there waiting for you.

Practice management system? What practice? Get a few dozen clients, and then you’ll have something to manage.

I could go on and on explaining why you don’t need to worry about all this stuff. Bottom line: you don’t need to worry about all this stuff.

However, you do need to worry about getting that client and then getting the next one. Focus on building relationships with people you know and people you don’t. Ask for help; ask for referrals. Do it 24/7 until you’re so busy that you can’t do it any more. That’s what you need to worry about.

Oh, I was almost done with my conversation with her when she jumps in and explains—

[ While I have you here, I wanted to remind you that you can get the latest articles delivered to your inbox a week before they go up on the web. Just one email per week. Sign up here. ]

“I’m going to do the marketing when I leave my position with the firm,” or she explains, “I’m going to do the marketing when I pass the bar exam; I’m just getting organized now, so I want to get all the information I can before I get started.”

Nope, nope, nope: I’m not buying it, and we’re still not going to talk about office space, malpractice insurance, and websites. No way—not gonna do it.

She can do the marketing now; she doesn’t need to wait. She can take people to lunch while she studies or works for the other firm. She can join clubs, volunteer at the domestic violence center, and attend bar association events. There’s no reason to wait; there’s no reason to get absorbed by the distractions of getting ready for later. She needs to be marketing now, and all she needs is a phone.

Start typing and press Enter to search