Can I really do this? Do I even know how to run a business?Can I be a lawyer and a business owner? The answer is YES!
While there is no handbook or a single best way to start your own practice, experience has taught me a few things that law school and case law did not.
I have learned that organization is critical. Regardless of your practice area, and whether or not you are transitioning from being an associate at a firm to starting your own practice, or have decided to practice independently immediately upon being called to the bar, you need to be organized. From a legal perspective, it is important to keep client contact information and the status of every matter current, and up to date. I find it helpful to have a running client list and progress chart which sets out a brief summary of each matter, important court dates or deadlines, and a general description of the status of each file. From a business standpoint, I find it invaluable to have updated bank records and clerical information, while completing data entry/administrative work on a regular basis (instead of letting it accumulate over time).
As a litigator, practicing predominantly in the area of family law, I often find myself wearing multiple hats – I am the lawyer, the therapist, the confidant and support system. Working with family law clients can be incredibly challenging and rewarding, as you assist those who are sometimes emotional and overwhelmed as they undergo a significantly turbulent transition in their lives. I want to provide my clients with sound legal advice, and remind them to be reasonable while recognizing the delicate nature of their matter and remaining cognizant of rising legal fees (trust me, those 0.2 dockets can add up quickly). It can be a challenge to meet the demands of family law clients who require access to their lawyer 24/7, while trying to maintain a work-life balance (let’s be real, as a sole practitioner, there is no such thing as work-life balance, at least not in the beginning).