Archive for the ‘Opening a Law Practice’ Category

If you have no idea how to choose a bank based on anything other than how long it takes you to walk to the closest branch (or whether they offer lollipops at the teller window), I off the following checklist of other factors to consider. Not all banks are created equal, and most experts recommend reevaluating your banking needs not just at the start of your business but also every few years. As you comparison-shop, a business account officer from each bank you’re considering should be available to answer all your questions—though you might get the best scoop by asking around among your colleagues. Is it approved for IOLTA accounts? If you plan to hold client fees in trust (i.e., before you perform the work), you need to hold the money in an “Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account” (IOLTA). In Massachusetts, attorneys may only hold IOLTA deposits in financial institutions that have […]

If you want to hang your own shingle, or change the structure of your existing practice, one of your first decisions will be whether to form an entity for your business, and, if so, which one. Note that the law governing entity formation is mostly a matter of state law, so check your local rules. First some general considerations: Every person or entity doing business in the City and County of San Francisco must obtain a valid Business Registration Certificate from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. Check whether your locality has a similar requirement. Every person or entity conducting business under a name  other than that person’s or entity’s full legal name must also file a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the County Clerk. In some places, you may not call yourself a firm if you are a solo practitioner, no matter what entity you practice under. (See California Rules of Professional […]

Erik Mazzone on Law Practice Matters suggests sticking to just a one- or two-page business plan, which can be created in a couple hours. No need to make it fancy. Just enough to allow you “to run through the most critical big picture questions without getting bogged down in details that are not mission critical on day 1.” One-page business plans are readily available on the web. Things to include in your one-page business plan (/business pitch): Your passion Your mission Opportunities — well-defined market or niche Practice areas, broken down by the percentage of money you think you will earn from each — think about including a new 21st-century practice area Potential clients — and, among those, your target clients Goals — for the next 10 days, 10 weeks, 10 months, and 10 years — Think about metrics such as # of clients or annual income How you will make money — What you will […]

Demand for more cost-effective legal services models, increased interest in self-representation, and advances in technology have made unbundled legal services (limited scope representation) more appealing to clients. Limited scope representation applies to a range of areas of law, such as family law, employment law, consumer issues, insurance coverage, and small business assistance. Model Rule 1.2(c) allows a lawyer to offer limited scope representation “if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances and the client gives informed consent.”