Starting A Law Firm by Mind Map: Starting A Law Firm
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Starting A Law Firm

Where To Locate?

Work for Space

Pros/Cons, You don't generate revenue, If desperate, may be good in short term, Lessor generally gets better bargain

How to Find?, Ask around, Do due diligence on arrangement

How many hrs. req'd?

Is value you give > cost of lease?

Does lessor want to help, or rip you off?

Virtual Space

Pros/Cons, Can be costly if used many hrs., Pay for only what you need, More attractive space than could otherwise afford, Space can be generic

How to Find?, Online, Other lawyers

Home Office

Pros/Cons, Cheap, Convenient, May be hard to discipline to work at home, Some still look askance

Other Issues, To tell or not to tell?, Where to meet clients?, Courthouse, At their place, Go completely virtual, Does bar allow completely virtual firm?, Separation work/life, Use separate space, Separate phone, office equip., Use home address?, can use PO Box, use virtual address, Decision depends on practice, Staff?, Use virtual workers, Can others work in your house?

Rent Space

Pros/Cons, Can be costly, Can make good impression, Can get overflow work, May be inconvenient for lawyer/parents

How to Find, Craigs List, Bar Journal, Leads from other lawyers

How long is the lease?

Can I afford it?

Will it help generate clients?

Do I need it for discipline?

What's the best location?, Close to court?, Close to clients?, Roadside visibility?

Sharing Space, With other lawyers?, Will they steal your clients?, Overflow work potential, With client?, Good work potential, Possible conflicts?, With former firm?, Convenient, Awkward?, Malpractice Considerations, Protect Client Confidentiality, Is there appearance of one uniform firm (as opposed to several subtenants?)

Office Equipment

Printer

Combo tool

How important is expensive printer if you are paperless?

Copier

Kinkos/outsource for large jobs

Scan/copy?

Desktop models

Scanner

Necessary for paperless

Can use as substitute for copier

Fax

Stand alone/combo w/printers?

Efax service

Back Up

Online

Dual computers

External Harddrive

Phone

VOIP

Landline

Cellphone

PDA/SmartPhone

Pros/Cons, Convenient, one place for multiple tools, Calendar, Internet/email, Contact management

Iphone

Android

Blackberry

WebHost/email

Software

Wordprocessing, MS Word, WordPerfect, Open Office, Google Docs

Adobe, Standard for efiling, imperative for paperless office, useful for forms

Practice specific, e.g., Casesoft (litigation), Doc/filing prep (estates, bankruptcy, etc...)

Computers

What can you repurpose?

Options, Laptop, Desktop, PC, Mac, Subnotebook

What are your goals?, Mobility, System for large staff

Legal Research

Does bar offer free tools?

Fastcase?

Casemaker?

Versuslaw

What are your needs?

1 state only?

All fed/state library?

Options

Lexis/Westlaw, First rate, pricey, Negotiate/aggregate w/others for discount, Is per diem service available?

Free kiosks, inconvenient, High quality for free

Alternatives, Examples, Fastcase, Casemaker, Versuslaw, Loislaw, Pros/cons, cheap, quality varies, coverage limited, Flexible plans - no lock in, New node, ask for free trials to test

Bar Requirements

Do you need to be licensed where your office is located?

Do you need a physical office in the jurisdiction where you are barred?

Other Bar Admission

Do you need to take an exam?

How much does waive-in cost?

Will it generate new business?

Do you need it?(e.g., federal practice may not)

Do you know lawyers who can help pro hac vice?

Can you work virtually in one state, while physically residing elsewhere? Which bar must approve (state where you practice or state where you reside?)

Bank Accounts

Operating Account

IOLTA Account

Do you need it?, Will hold money in trust?, Only taking flat fees or post-work payment, Due Diligence, reputation of company, security of data, Fall back (what if company goes out of business?, Does bar treat flat fees as fee earned or money to be held in client trust?

Credit Cards

Will bar allow credit cards?

Will bar allow PayPal?

Do you need merchant account?

How will you handle chargeback?

Does credit card payment go into trust acct. if for retainer?

What laws and/or bar rules govern security for holding client credit card numbers?

Accounting Support

What accounting software?, Online?, Desk based, Trust acct. balancing features?, Compatibility w/other practice management tools

Freelance bookeeper, Where to find?, Other attnys, Assns. of legal virtual assistants, Craigs' List, New noe

Corporate Structure

Sole proprietor

Easy

Is it professional?

LLC

Easy

Same taxes as individ.

Added liability shield (except for professional malpractice)

Some states don't allow LLC for lawyers

Can look more professional

Partnership

Consider for more than one

How to structure

Corp./PC

Added liability shield, New node

More complex?

Req'd by bar?, New node

Malpractice Insurance

Is going bare an option?

Choices

amt. coverage

Amt. deductible

Defense Costs

Tail coverage

Where to find?

Other attny recommend

Broker

Internet searches

Does your practice area increase coverage costs?

Practice Management Tools

Desktop Based

Pros, Tried & True, One time payment, Designed w/lawyers' needs in mind

Cons, Becoming obsolete, May need to pay $$s for experts to install, Need to reinstall to upgrade - time consuming

Software as a Service

Wave of the future

Monthly cost, can be more expensive

Automatically upgrades w/out reinstall

Legal v. Non-Legal

Non-legal apps cheap or free

Does non-legal have adequate security?

Does non-legal app have different terminology?

Functions

Calendar

Contact management

Conflict checks

Invoicing/Billing

Time keeper

Presence

Business Cards

Handmade

Local Printer

Online Order

Web Presence

Social Media Profile, Justia, AVVO, LinkedIn, Facebook Firm Page

Self Created, Website, DIY, Designer, Blog, DIY, Blogger, Wordpress.com, TypePad, Designer

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