Let’s get personal. Your law practice will reflect who you are – from the business model you create to the leadership style you adopt. So, before all else, make time for a self-check. Ask yourself: do I have what it takes?
1. Make sure the time is right
Before you quit your job and sign a lease on a new office, be sure now is the right time to start. Opening a practice is time consuming – and running it can be demanding. Long hours and huge levels of accountability are common stressors. Do you have the space right now, mentally and logistically, to give your business the attention it needs? If you’re currently facing pressure in other aspects of your life, due to family responsibilities or health concerns for example, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to put your best foot forward at work.
2. Get ready to get tough
While drive and ambition may have brought you here, you must have commitment to keep going. As a business owner, you need to be disciplined, focused and thick skinned. Maintaining an optimistic and open outlook, and being willing to do the hard yards, will be key to your long-term success.
3. Reflect on your people skills
Recruiting, networking and most importantly, acquiring and retaining clients will rely on your ability to build relationships with people. That’s why strong interpersonal skills are so critical. Your ability to adapt your communication style, show empathy, manage conflict, negotiate effectively and instil confidence in others will make you a more successful leader and business owner.
4. Know your strengths, interests and passions
It’s true that enjoying your job and being good at your job go hand in hand. So, take time to think about what comes naturally to you and what you find most rewarding. Your personal interests and background will come into play here. For someone who has grown up in the country with an interest in farming, it may make sense to focus on an agricultural practice that serves the needs of the community. It’s also a smart idea to revisit your past performance reviews or ask your former colleagues for feedback. Knowing your strengths can help you build your practice – and your role within it.
5. Surround yourself with support
It’s hard work to set yourself up for success. The mental and emotional challenges are real. Long hours, inconsistent income and solitude, particularly for sole practitioners, can take a toll. But with support from others – such as mentors, former colleagues, the Law Society, online groups, blogs, friends and family members – the burden becomes so much lighter. If you’re feeling the demands of getting your business started, or the isolation from long hours, talk to others. Self-care will help you stay on top of your business and find energy to enjoy life outside of work.
6. Ensure you have the financial resources
The size of your upfront investment will depend on several variables – such as your area of practice, office location and your marketing plan. But one thing is certain; you will need to spend at the outset. So be sure you have enough financial resources to see you through the set-up phase. And of course, that’s where smart budgeting and forecasting comes in.
Getting serious about starting your own law firm?
Congratulations. It’s a courageous but exciting life decision. Download our MUST-HAVE guide to equip you with practical tips for establishing a successful law firm. Complete with checklists, activities and other resources, we hope this guide will set you on the right path