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

1. Bank Accounts

1.1. Operating Account

1.2. IOLTA Account

1.2.1. Do you need it? Will hold money in trust? Only taking flat fees or post-work payment Due Diligence Does bar treat flat fees as fee earned or money to be held in client trust?

1.3. Credit Cards

1.3.1. Will bar allow credit cards?

1.3.2. Will bar allow PayPal?

1.3.3. Do you need merchant account?

1.3.4. How will you handle chargeback?

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

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

1.4. Accounting Support

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

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

2. Malpractice Insurance

2.1. Is going bare an option?

2.2. Choices

2.2.1. amt. coverage

2.2.2. Amt. deductible

2.2.3. Defense Costs

2.2.4. Tail coverage

2.3. Where to find?

2.3.1. Other attny recommend

2.3.2. Broker

2.3.3. Internet searches

2.4. Does your practice area increase coverage costs?

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 New node

3.4.2. More complex?

3.4.3. Req'd by bar? New node

4. Bar Requirements

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

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

4.3. Other Bar Admission

4.3.1. Do you need to take an exam?

4.3.2. How much does waive-in cost?

4.3.3. Will it generate new business?

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

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

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

5. Presence

5.1. Business Cards

5.1.1. Handmade

5.1.2. Local Printer

5.1.3. Online Order

5.2. Web Presence

5.2.1. Social Media Profile Justia AVVO LinkedIn Facebook Firm Page

5.2.2. Self Created Website DIY Designer Blog DIY Blogger TypePad Designer

6. Practice Management Tools

6.1. Desktop Based

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

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

6.2. Software as a Service

6.2.1. Wave of the future

6.2.2. Monthly cost, can be more expensive

6.2.3. Automatically upgrades w/out reinstall

6.3. Legal v. Non-Legal

6.3.1. Non-legal apps cheap or free

6.3.2. Does non-legal have adequate security?

6.3.3. Does non-legal app have different terminology?

6.4. Functions

6.4.1. Calendar

6.4.2. Contact management

6.4.3. Conflict checks

6.4.4. Invoicing/Billing

6.4.5. Time keeper

7. Where To Locate?

7.1. Work for Space

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

7.1.2. How to Find? Ask around Do due diligence on arrangement

7.1.3. How many hrs. req'd?

7.1.4. Is value you give > cost of lease?

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

7.2. Virtual Space

7.2.1. 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

7.2.2. How to Find? Online Other lawyers

7.3. Home Office

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

7.3.2. Other Issues To tell or not to tell? Where to meet clients? Courthouse At their place Go completely virtual 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?

7.4. Rent Space

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

7.4.2. How to Find Craigs List Bar Journal Leads from other lawyers

7.4.3. How long is the lease?

7.4.4. Can I afford it?

7.4.5. Will it help generate clients?

7.4.6. Do I need it for discipline?

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

7.4.8. 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?)

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 Convenient one place for multiple tools Calendar Internet/email 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 MS Word WordPerfect Open Office Google Docs

8.9.2. Adobe Standard for efiling imperative for paperless office useful for forms

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

8.10. Computers

8.10.1. What can you repurpose?

8.10.2. Options Laptop Desktop PC Mac Subnotebook

8.10.3. What are your goals? Mobility System for large staff

9. Legal Research

9.1. Does bar offer free tools?

9.1.1. Fastcase?

9.1.2. Casemaker?

9.1.3. Versuslaw

9.2. What are your needs?

9.2.1. 1 state only?

9.2.2. All fed/state library?

9.3. Options

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

9.3.2. Free kiosks inconvenient High quality for free

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