This is the third installment of a four-part series exploring the risks and rewards of freelance legal work. Be sure to read:
- Part 1: Deciding to fly solo
- Part 2: Laying the groundwork for a successful solo law practice
- Part 4: Managing risk as a solo practitioner
Launching and growing a solo legal practice
Once you’ve laid the foundation for a successful solo legal practice by creating a strong business plan and building a solid technological infrastructure, you’re ready to start serving clients. Here are some tips for achieving success.
In the early days, expect to spend most of your time developing client relationships. While much of your business will come through positive word-of-mouth from previous clients, you can also develop meaningful professional relationships and enriching collaborations through local bar associations, specialty professional organizations, and nationwide affinity groups.
As new clients come in, you’ll need to balance the demands of client development with actual client work. Ideally, new business will continue flowing in as existing clients return year after year, sustaining the growth of your practice.
You may reach the point where you’ll want to consider outsourcing some business development activities to an outside firm or automating tasks using client relationship management software. Either option will allow you to focus more attention on your legal practice while keeping the client pipeline full.
Growing your team
One of the biggest challenges for solo legal practitioners is balancing business development, client relationship maintenance, actual lawyering, and outside personal responsibilities. This juggling act must be performed skillfully, or you risk jeopardizing many of the benefits of individual practice.
That’s why the next crucial step for solo practitioners who want to grow their businesses is determining when and if to add a paralegal, associate, or partner to the team. Yes, becoming an employer will introduce new challenges and expenses — such as tax contributions and health insurance, to name a few — but when timed correctly, delegating or outsourcing administrative tasks will help your practice continue to grow and succeed.