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Solo & Small Law Firms

Back of the Napkin Business Plan for Starting a Law Firm

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Starting a law firm can be daunting.  Checklists and Mind Maps and planning resources outline the tasks involved, but the minutia can overwhelm.  For some, the planning process gives rise to analysis-paralysis, as the quest for a perfect launch delays launching at all.  And for those who come to solo practice as a last resort, putting to paper income projections (a big fat zero) merely heightens feelings of hopelessness.

Believe it or not, the details of starting a practice – where you’ll locate and the corporate form you’ll adopt and even where you’ll find clients – don’t matter, at least at the outset.  What’s most important is (1) your vision of what you want to accomplish and why you even want to practice law, and (2) identifying a few tangible baby steps to start you on your way, and jolt you out of either malaise or the endless cycle of tail-chasing, start-up activity.

To help you focus on what matters, I’ve created the “Back of the Napkin Business Plan.”  The plan distills these tasks into a half-sheet of paper and offers up a couple of inspiring quotes to keep you motivated.  Print it out and take to the beach or on a quiet hike – or scribble up your own back of the napkin, using these somewhat more sophisticated tools courtesy of this terrific website,  Because once you settle on why practicing law matters and what you you want to create, the rest of details will fall into place, more easily than you ever could imagine. Back of the Napkin Law Firm Business Plan

  • Mike in TX

    You may have addressed this before… How do I identify a 21st century, up and coming area? Should it relate to my bread and butter practice, my aspirational practice, or my niche? I have those three identified (probate, small business, transportation) but I don't know how to tie those into some future-focused practice. Thoughts?

  • Tildaswill

    I can tell you from experience that it's incredible scary and difficult to strike it on your own. I've been an attorney for years at a mid-size firm and though I'm tired of it and I want to leave, it's too big of a risk to go it alone. Though after reading this post and all these other blogs talking about age discrimination at law firms:… I may be changing my tune. Or at least dreaming about it. Someone's got to pay my kids' tuition.

  • K. David

    Once you do go out on your own you will need as many resources as possible for developing your business. Try

  • commercial space for rent

    once you start your business you will get your links  automatically. I am very much pleased  with the contents you have mentioned in the article. Thanks a lot for publishing this great article.

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