I founded Thomas Law Firm in 2011 right out of law school and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Being my own boss has given me the flexibility to work (from anywhere) with the clients of my choice. I’ve also had the pleasure of helping dozens of other like-minded entrepreneurs/attorneys set up their own practices. If you’re a lawyer who’s interested in owning your own business, then continue reading.
Establish a Legal Business Entity
Most of our Attorney clients choose to form a PLLC business entity (Professional Service Limited Liability Company). This is a great option for solo practitioners or partners starting a small law firm in New York. Attorneys may also form a PC (Professional Service Corporation) or LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) although these two options are not quite as popular in my experience. Setting up a professional business entity will help your company become established and provides the owner with many benefits. Note, that Attorneys can’t form a regular LLC; the Department of State requires a professional entity and a Certificate of Good Standing from your Appellate Division.
Law Practice Naming Requirements in New York
The name of the your new practice must conform with the New York Rules of Professional Conduct. We do a name a clearance search in advance of every formation project make to sure that the name is available for registration and ethically compliant.
Open Bank Accounts
Once the entity is established you’ll need an EIN number to open a business bank account. Lawyers in New York must also have an IOLA for client funds held in trust. An IOLA account is a mandatory interest bearing account. The State of New York uses the interest proceeds to help indigent clients.
There’s no shortage of insurance brokers who will happily sell you malpractice insurance for your new venture. I would suggest checking around and getting some quotes based on your particular practice area.
Law Practice Management Software
Again, lots of options here. A quick Google search will lead to many billing platforms, payment processors, software platforms, etc. I’ve had a few different systems in place until finding my current system that allows new clients to easily pay online.
Hang Your Shingle
Once the company is set up you can start marketing your services. This is the fun part. There are so many ways to connect with potential clients the possibilities are endless. SEO, PPC, traditional advertising, networking, coworking, referrals, blogging, etc. It will take some time to hone your strategy, but once you do the phone will start ringing. For me, it only took about 2 months until I signed my first client.