Starting A Law Firm

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

1. Where To Locate?

1.1. Work for Space

1.1.1. Pros/Cons

1.1.1.1. You don't generate revenue

1.1.1.2. If desperate, may be good in short term

1.1.1.3. Lessor generally gets better bargain

1.1.2. How to Find?

1.1.2.1. Ask around

1.1.2.2. Do due diligence on arrangement

1.1.3. How many hrs. req'd?

1.1.4. Is value you give > cost of lease?

1.1.5. Does lessor want to help, or rip you off?

1.2. Virtual Space

1.2.1. Pros/Cons

1.2.1.1. Can be costly if used many hrs.

1.2.1.2. Pay for only what you need

1.2.1.3. More attractive space than could otherwise afford

1.2.1.4. Space can be generic

1.2.2. How to Find?

1.2.2.1. Online

1.2.2.2. Other lawyers

1.3. Home Office

1.3.1. Pros/Cons

1.3.1.1. Cheap

1.3.1.2. Convenient

1.3.1.3. May be hard to discipline to work at home

1.3.1.4. Some still look askance

1.3.2. Other Issues

1.3.2.1. To tell or not to tell?

1.3.2.2. Where to meet clients?

1.3.2.2.1. Courthouse

1.3.2.2.2. At their place

1.3.2.2.3. Go completely virtual

1.3.2.3. Separation work/life

1.3.2.3.1. Use separate space

1.3.2.3.2. Separate phone, office equip.

1.3.2.4. Use home address?

1.3.2.4.1. can use PO Box

1.3.2.4.2. use virtual address

1.3.2.4.3. Decision depends on practice

1.3.2.5. Staff?

1.3.2.5.1. Use virtual workers

1.3.2.5.2. Can others work in your house?

1.4. Rent Space

1.4.1. Pros/Cons

1.4.1.1. Can be costly

1.4.1.2. Can make good impression

1.4.1.3. Can get overflow work

1.4.1.4. May be inconvenient for lawyer/parents

1.4.2. How to Find

1.4.2.1. Craigs List

1.4.2.2. Bar Journal

1.4.2.3. Leads from other lawyers

1.4.3. How long is the lease?

1.4.4. Can I afford it?

1.4.5. Will it help generate clients?

1.4.6. Do I need it for discipline?

1.4.7. What's the best location?

1.4.7.1. Close to court?

1.4.7.2. Close to clients?

1.4.7.3. Roadside visibility?

1.4.8. Sharing Space

1.4.8.1. With other lawyers?

1.4.8.1.1. Will they steal your clients?

1.4.8.1.2. Overflow work potential

1.4.8.2. With client?

1.4.8.2.1. Good work potential

1.4.8.2.2. Possible conflicts?

1.4.8.3. With former firm?

1.4.8.3.1. Convenient

1.4.8.3.2. Awkward?

1.4.8.4. Malpractice Considerations

1.4.8.4.1. Protect Client Confidentiality

1.4.8.4.2. Is there appearance of one uniform firm (as opposed to several subtenants?)

2. Bar Requirements

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

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

2.3. Other Bar Admission

2.3.1. Do you need to take an exam?

2.3.2. How much does waive-in cost?

2.3.3. Will it generate new business?

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

2.3.5. Do you know lawyers who can help pro hac vice?

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

3. Corporate Structure

3.1. Sole proprietor

3.1.1. Easy

3.1.2. Is it professional?

3.2. LLC

3.2.1. Easy

3.2.2. Same taxes as individ.

3.2.3. Added liability shield (except for professional malpractice)

3.2.4. Some states don't allow LLC for lawyers

3.2.5. Can look more professional

3.3. Partnership

3.3.1. Consider for more than one

3.3.2. How to structure

3.4. Corp./PC

3.4.1. Added liability shield

3.4.1.1. New node

3.4.2. More complex?

3.4.3. Req'd by bar?

3.4.3.1. New node

4. Malpractice Insurance

4.1. Is going bare an option?

4.2. Choices

4.2.1. amt. coverage

4.2.2. Amt. deductible

4.2.3. Defense Costs

4.2.4. Tail coverage

4.3. Where to find?

4.3.1. Other attny recommend

4.3.2. Broker

4.3.3. Internet searches

4.4. Does your practice area increase coverage costs?

5. Bank Accounts

5.1. Operating Account

5.2. IOLTA Account

5.2.1. Do you need it?

5.2.1.1. Will hold money in trust?

5.2.1.2. Only taking flat fees or post-work payment

5.2.1.2.1. Does bar treat flat fees as fee earned or money to be held in client trust?

5.3. Credit Cards

5.3.1. Will bar allow credit cards?

5.3.2. Will bar allow PayPal?

5.3.3. Do you need merchant account?

5.3.4. How will you handle chargeback?

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

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

5.4. Accounting Support

5.4.1. What accounting software?

5.4.1.1. Online?

5.4.1.2. Desk based

5.4.1.3. Trust acct. balancing features?

5.4.1.4. Compatibility w/other practice management tools

5.4.2. Freelance bookeeper

5.4.2.1. Where to find?

5.4.2.1.1. Other attnys

5.4.2.1.2. Assns. of legal virtual assistants

5.4.2.1.3. Craigs' List

6. Legal Research

6.1. Does bar offer free tools?

6.1.1. Fastcase?

6.1.2. Casemaker?

6.1.3. Versuslaw

6.2. What are your needs?

6.2.1. 1 state only?

6.2.2. All fed/state library?

6.3. Options

6.3.1. Lexis/Westlaw

6.3.1.1. First rate

6.3.1.2. pricey

6.3.1.3. Negotiate/aggregate w/others for discount

6.3.1.4. Is per diem service available?

6.3.2. Free kiosks

6.3.2.1. inconvenient

6.3.2.2. High quality for free

6.3.3. Alternatives

6.3.3.1. Examples

6.3.3.1.1. Fastcase

6.3.3.1.2. Casemaker

6.3.3.1.3. Versuslaw

6.3.3.1.4. Loislaw

6.3.3.2. Pros/cons

6.3.3.2.1. cheap

6.3.3.2.2. quality varies

6.3.3.2.3. coverage limited

6.3.3.2.4. Flexible plans - no lock in

6.3.3.3. ask for free trials to test

7. Practice Management Tools

7.1. Desktop Based

7.1.1. Pros

7.1.1.1. Tried & True

7.1.1.2. One time payment

7.1.1.3. Designed w/lawyers' needs in mind

7.1.2. Cons

7.1.2.1. Becoming obsolete

7.1.2.2. May need to pay $$s for experts to install

7.1.2.3. Need to reinstall to upgrade - time consuming

7.2. Software as a Service

7.2.1. Wave of the future

7.2.2. Monthly cost, can be more expensive

7.2.3. Automatically upgrades w/out reinstall

7.2.4. Due Diligence

7.2.4.1. reputation of company

7.2.4.2. security of data

7.2.4.3. Fall back (what if company goes out of business?

7.3. Legal v. Non-Legal

7.3.1. Non-legal apps cheap or free

7.3.2. Does non-legal have adequate security?

7.3.3. Does non-legal app have different terminology?

7.4. Functions

7.4.1. Calendar

7.4.2. Contact management

7.4.3. Conflict checks

7.4.4. Invoicing/Billing

7.4.5. Time keeper

8. Office Equipment

8.1. Printer

8.1.1. Combo tool

8.1.2. How important is expensive printer if you are paperless?

8.2. Copier

8.2.1. Kinkos/outsource for large jobs

8.2.2. Scan/copy?

8.2.3. Desktop models

8.3. Scanner

8.3.1. Necessary for paperless

8.3.2. Can use as substitute for copier

8.4. Fax

8.4.1. Stand alone/combo w/printers?

8.4.2. Efax service

8.5. Back Up

8.5.1. Online

8.5.2. Dual computers

8.5.3. External Harddrive

8.6. Phone

8.6.1. VOIP

8.6.2. Landline

8.6.3. Cellphone

8.7. PDA/SmartPhone

8.7.1. Pros/Cons

8.7.1.1. Convenient

8.7.1.2. one place for multiple tools

8.7.1.2.1. Calendar

8.7.1.2.2. Internet/email

8.7.1.2.3. Contact management

8.7.2. Iphone

8.7.3. Android

8.7.4. Blackberry

8.8. WebHost/email

8.9. Software

8.9.1. Wordprocessing

8.9.1.1. MS Word

8.9.1.2. WordPerfect

8.9.1.3. Open Office

8.9.1.4. Google Docs

8.9.2. Adobe

8.9.2.1. Standard for efiling

8.9.2.2. imperative for paperless office

8.9.2.3. useful for forms

8.9.3. Practice specific

8.9.3.1. e.g., Casesoft (litigation)

8.9.3.2. Doc/filing prep (estates, bankruptcy, etc...)

8.10. Computers

8.10.1. What can you repurpose?

8.10.2. Options

8.10.2.1. Laptop

8.10.2.2. Desktop

8.10.2.3. PC

8.10.2.4. Mac

8.10.2.5. Subnotebook

8.10.3. What are your goals?

8.10.3.1. Mobility

8.10.3.2. System for large staff