How to Successfully Start a Law Firm with a Limited Investment


To start a law firm is a long-held dream for attorneys who have worked for years to establish themselves at a big-time law practice before striking out on their own. For others, it’s a testament of their entrepreneurial spirit and small business marketing savvy.

But it’s also becoming the option of last-resort for some new law school grads who want to actually practice law. According to a recent Wall Street Journal, “members of the law-school class of 2011 had little better than a 50-50 shot of landing a job as a lawyer within nine months of receiving a degree.”

Managing Start-Up Costs with Online Delivery

It’s not all bad news, though. One thing all of these attorneys have going for them is a marketplace in which it’s easier and cheaper than ever to get a new law practice off the ground. Specifically, practice management platforms and web-based lead generation have enabled many attorneys to establish a practice that offers unbundled legal services and is managed entirely online.

Many attorneys must start a law firm with a limited investment. Many have school debt in the high five-digit or even low six-digit figure range. For those who have worked for a number of years, there may be little to gain from gambling with your entire savings, especially for those with a household that depends on their financial resources. And to make matters worse, commercial and small business credit is still relatively tight from the ongoing fallout of the financial crisis.

Start a Law Firm from Home and Work Your Way Up

How low can these start-up costs go? Well, if you already have a viable home office set up with a computer, fax machine, scanner, printer, and Internet connection, you can practically zero out your start-up costs. You will need software to run your law practice, but you can find one of the best practice management platforms right here at Total Attorneys for only a dollar a month.

This solution includes a task dashboard, lead and client tracker, document filing, invoice and payment processing—everything you need to manage a law practice.

Many of these new firms have long-term plans to convert into a more traditional brick-and-mortar business, once they become more established. In fact, it’s a relatively simple process to gradually transition into a full-fledged firm by utilizing a hybrid business model in which your online practice is coupled with a leased office space and shared conference area.

Likewise, many new attorneys manage their own office at first, before hiring an assistant to run this virtual receptionist strategy, and then a full complement of office management personnel.

The Role of Lead Generation Services

All this sounds too good to be true, right. And, in one sense, it probably is. Despite a lack of start-up costs, you can’t start a law firm and hope to be successful without a marketing strategy. It’s not too difficult to set up a website and apply for directory listings, and these are important, preliminary marketing tasks. However, generating any type of consistent business from these resources is a different matter.

The best way to get a return from a marketing budget is joining a dedicated, online lead generation service. These companies use legal service query sites and their own online marketing campaigns to identify prospective clients are actively seeking legal services in your market and in your practice area.

And with a pay-per-lead fee structure, there is no big, upfront expenditure.

Not only does a lead generator represent a savvy way to find paying clients, but by enabling you to pursue only qualified prospects, it’s a huge time-saver as well.

Best of all, a lead generation service largely puts your new start-up or solo firm on a level playing field with the big-name firms. With a supporting website, personable and knowledgeable interview skills, and lower fees, you can start a law firm and find both immediate and long-term success.