In the Winter 2011 edition of Illinois Lawyer Now, John W. Olmstead provides some survival tips on Starting – building – managing a law firm. He breaks his tips into a variety of phases:
- Phase – I Solo Startup
- Phase II – Taking the Practice to the Next Level – New Challenges – New Skills Required
- Phase III – Partnership – Internal/Other Firm
For recent law school grads and newly minted lawyers getting started, I think the piece is definitely worth the quick read and should be probably filed somewhere for periodic reference. Many lawyers forget, skip, or otherwise ignore some of the more important aspects of getting a firm off the ground, especially when just getting started. For example, during Phase I John recommends:
- Creating a business plan
- Finding an experienced attorney to serve as a mentor.
It’s astonishing how many young lawyers either completely ignore, or don’t spend enough time, planning their firm and talking with more experienced attorneys. What’s the best way to avoid common mistakes? Ask people that have experienced them.
I also like the way that John breaks down business development:
To be successful in private practice attorneys must be finders (originate new business), minders (manage client matters and relationships) and grinders (worker bees that work on client matters, provide services that generate fees).
It’s common to see lawyers that have a difficult time balancing these three aspects and end up hyper-focusing on one.