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Starting your own law firm is incredibly exciting, but alongside the excitement there’s no avoiding the practical, sometimes boring, yet very essential planning and preparation that is required. From getting insurance to authorising your practice, there are some crucial steps that you need to follow if you want to establish a legally operating legal firm.
Give yourself the best chance of set-up success by keeping these seven practical points in mind as you get ready to go into business.
1. Are you sure?
Not a trick question, honest! However, it is a good idea to make sure that a legal firm is right for you. You might decide you’d prefer to operate as an independent solicitor (though this comes with some potential limitations), so investigate the alternatives before you commit. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) provides some excellent information as part of its Standards and Regulations that may help you identify exactly how you want to operate your business entity.
2. Decide on a business structure
So, you are sure? That’s great! Now it’s time to decide how to structure your firm – assuming you aren’t planning to operate as a sole trader. Are you going into business with a partner, and if so what kind of partnership would work best (a traditional partnership or a limited liability partnership – LLP)? Or maybe you want to set up a company? The UK Government offers some initial details on these options here, but you should research them all before you sign anything
3. Get organised!
You may think that you’re well on your way already, but there’s a lot more to think about before you start practising. Before you can even apply for SRA authorisation, you need to make sure you are eligible to do this – which includes completing the registration of your business once you have decided on its structure.
It’s also a good time to be thinking about your business plan and to put together an organisation chart for the benefit of your insurance provider and the SRA. Your business plan will help you to focus on your organisation’s short- and longer-term goals, and it will also clarify your vision for the kind of firm you want to operate.
4. Acquire an insurance quote
Before the SRA will authorise your firm, you need to have an insurance quote for professional indemnity insurance ready to go. You’ll usually need to share a simple business plan with some cashflow projections to get a reliable quote that is acceptable to the SRA. All of these requirements should be on your radar already, so hopefully this process will be more of a box-ticking exercise – but without an insurance quote, you will hit a wall with authorising your firm.
5. Apply for SRA authorisation
Hurrah – all being well, by now you should have the information you require to apply for SRA authorisation. When this is approved, you’re almost ready to get started!
6. Choose suitable practice management software
It makes sense to have a smooth system in place for all your IT needs – and central to this for any law firm is reliable practice management software. An optimal system will provide you with a range of document management products and business intelligence reporting to help you manage your caseload efficiently. It should also help you keep clients and colleagues updated in real time.
7. Manage your time and maximise your opportunities
If your business is set up properly and authorised to operate, and your practice management software is working for you, your set-up should be complete. Explore the different ways you can make the most of your available time with your practice management software – by investing a little time now to get to know how it can help you run your business, you can save hours in the long run, leaving you some extra time to win new clients, explore new opportunities and build your business.
To find out more about how our practice management software can help you get your law firm off to the best possible start, contact us today.