4 Things you should know if you want to set up your own law practice

Posted on: 13 October 2015

Even with a good education, the truth is that going to law school doesn't always guarantee you the career trajectory you have planned out: coming in as an associate in a prestigious firm and working your way up to partner. Therefore, many young lawyers are increasingly considering setting up their own law practices fresh out of law school. If you are one such lawyer, the following tips will help you build a strong practice.

1. It isn't not all about the money

Coming right out of law school and balking at the thought of student loans and law practice overheads, many young, eager lawyers set their fees too high, which is a mistake for several reasons:

  • Being new, you don't have the kind of experience that warrants high fees, and you'll be competing against lawyers charging the same fees with proven track records.
  • High fees may scare away potential clients before you have an opportunity to impress them with your services
  • Handling low-paying and/or pro-bono cases can help you master whatever area of law you choose, conferring with more experienced lawyers when you hit a snug. By giving that client good value even if they aren't paying, they will keep you in mind when they need legal help next time.

2. Listen more than you talk

The truth is that your potential clients more interested in finding someone who understands and cares for their cause. New lawyers often make the mistake of prattling on about law in fancy language rather than focusing on the client and understanding their case.

Your average client is unimpressed with showy language. Simply listen to his/her legal dilemma, interrupting only to verify facts and then use clear, simple English to tell them how you can help and answer all their questions.

3. Only take cases or clients you care about

If you only set up a law practice to make money, you're setting yourself up to fail. You cannot fake caring for a client or his/her case. If you do not have compassion for a client's plight, don't take their case, no matter how much they offer. Any experienced lawyer will tell you that a majority of the cases they have won were those they believed in and/or cared about.

Remember that every legal matter that a client comes to you with may be the most important thing that person has ever faced, even if it seems minor to you. Regardless of the result, clients remember and appreciate lawyers that aggressively fought on their behalf, and that can only happen if you genuinely care.

4. Communication is everything

Finally, communicating with the client is not about sending them your monthly invoice of billable hours. Be accessible to every client on your list, letting them know that they can talk to you about anything concerning the case. Use email as much as possible, and give prompt responses to the emails you receive.

Sending an update at 6am on Sunday will reassure clients that you're working tirelessly for them. Most lawyers out there don't work for their clients on Sunday morning. And that's what will get your more clients.