This post is written by Joseph M. Flanders, a licensed attorney in the State of Indiana who has a started his own firm in Indiana and is in the process starting his own law firm in Minneapolis, MN. You can follow his thoughts on How to Start a Law Firm at his blog: Solo In Minneapolis.
Welcome! This is my first post on LegalJob about starting and building a law firm. I am currently practicing law as a solo attorney in Indiana, but my family and I will be moving to Minnesota in August of 2011. I plan to continue being a solo practitioner and opening my own law firm in Minneapolis once I am licensed in Minnesota.
After graduation from law school in 2007, and while in Indiana, I practiced law at a general practice firm for a little over three years. I gained a great deal of experience and focused about 60% of my practice on family law. At the firm, I was expected to generate new revenue right away and, as a result, I took on quite a few new clients. I would estimate that I handled well over two-hundred new matters in the short three years I was at the firm. Three years went by quickly.
When my wife and I knew we would be moving, I told the firm I was leaving and informed my clients that they could stick with me as a solo practitioner or stay with the firm. I discussed the matter with the firm partners before leaving. I also wrote a detailed letter to my clients explaining that if they did not want to stay with the firm or me as their attorney, they were entitled to any trust account balance that the firm had not earned and a copy of their case file. I was somewhat surprised that nearly all of my clients decided to stay with me. Perhaps even more surprising is that I didn’t need the firm to be a good attorney and achieve a result my clients were happy with.
I am now handling about twenty active case files out of my home office. Running a law practice out of your home presents some challenges that I didn’t have at the firm. However, the transition hasn’t been that difficult. Because I already had clients who were paying their bills, I simply had to inform the court of my change in address and set up my home office. After that, I needed bank accounts, a trust account, malpractice insurance, a federal tax identification number, a printer, and lots of pens, paper, and envelopes. None of those things were terribly difficult to obtain, but there was a bit of a learning curve. A regret I have is that I didn’t set up a PO Box for office use. I find getting work materials in my home mail somewhat intrusive. Also, meeting with clients has been a problem, and I have been forced to use the courthouse conference rooms on several occasions.
But, for the last five months, I have been running a successful law practice out of my home. I’ve handled a three-day custody trial, mortgage foreclosure hearings, meditations, and various other matters all under my own moniker. My clients don’t care that I’m working out of my home. Even better – I am not working the same kind of hours I put in at the firm and I have made as much money on my own as I was earning as salary. I have often wondered why I didn’t start my own practice sooner.
As a guest author at LegalJob, I plan on posting often on my journey of starting a family law firm in Minneapolis, MN – everything from the planning stage, office space, start-up costs and technology to start and build my law firm. I’ve learned a lot since graduating from law school and I am going to try to share some of that here with you. Stay tuned!