Going Off on Your Own: Your Guide to Running a Modern Law Firm

By Claude Ducloux, Attorney and Director of Education, LawPay

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While many attorneys both new and experienced find rich and fulfilling careers joining an existing law firm, many also make the bold decision to branch out and build their own law firm from scratch. Starting your own business can be simultaneously exciting and nerve-racking. It requires careful planning and commitment to get off to a good start. There’s often a lot more work to manage—you may have to take more financial risks, work longer hours, and rely on an unsteady income at first.

However, the prospect of being your own boss, setting your own hours, building a business, and carving your own path in the legal world has a lot of appeal for many attorneys and can be extremely rewarding.

It has been my great pleasure to practice law for over four decades, and to pass the lessons of office management, client relations, and ethics to thousands upon thousands of lawyers through presentations, papers, and CLE videos for more than 25 years.

My focus has always been to help lawyers hone skill sets, to provide insight to innovation, and to give lawyers the practical skills to serve clients in a way that builds friendships for life. To practice effectively, every lawyer must first and foremost assume the role of problem-solver. Client relations are built upon effective communication, including interviewing skills from the start that result in reasonable expectations by the client of the range of options and outcomes.

Further, the “business of law” requires the client to understand what I expect from the client in terms of providing information, documentation, and the duty to pay the reasonable costs of the lawyers services per the terms of their agreement. Finally, law office management skills are the final leg of our “triad” supporting a successful practice. Lawyers must know how to budget, to target goals, and to bill clients in a timely manner, which secures sufficient operating and personal income.

The guide that we’ve created is an attempt to merge all these lessons in a manner that’s accessible and understandable. But never be afraid to ask for advice and help from your own legal community. I want to hear any ideas or reflections you might want to send my way too. Feel free to inconvenience some electrons letting me know your thoughts.

— Claude Ducloux

[email protected]

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