There are some steps to set up the law firm that you can safely afford to put off until later. Creating a referral list, for instance, can wait until you’ve established your practice. Approaching potential partners, for another, can wait until you’ve built a reputation for yourself. Even buying your own building can wait until you’re earning enough revenue—there’s nothing wrong with renting a small set of rooms or a floor in a commercial complex until you’re financially stable.
However, the one thing you absolutely cannot afford to ignore is your vision. Your vision is the foundation of your law firm, and it’s going to be the driving force behind everything your practice chooses to do and represent. In short, it’s crucial.
If you’re not sure how to construct the perfect vision for your soon-to-be law firm, you only need to ask yourself these four simple questions:
The first question you need to ask yourself is why; why are you doing this? Why do you want to create a law firm of your own instead of working at one? Why do you want to create a law firm instead of working for a company or for corporate?
Business owners and entrepreneurs always talk about how important your “why” is—it’s no different here. You need to be very clear on your reason for setting this up; otherwise, you’ll be easily disheartened or distracted from attaining your goal.
Where do you want your practice to go? How far do you think it can reach? Don’t think of physical, logistical, or financial limitations try to envision where your law firm could be, ten or twenty years from now regarding clients, reputation, partners, and performance. It’s important to know this so that you can accurately map out the best route from where you are to where you want to be.
Not having a destination in mind is as disastrous as physically wandering around unchartered territory with just a pen and a blank piece of paper. If you don’t know where you started and you don’t know where you’re going, how can you begin to find your way?
Big dreams for your practice aside, you’ll need a splash of reality. You know why you’re creating your law firm and you know where you want to go. The next question you need to ask yourself to craft your perfect vision is; how are you going to get there?
Think of what needs to be done, created, or accomplished to push you closer towards your goal. Will you need more partners? Will you need more training? Will you need more clients?
Break down those big milestones into smaller, bite-sized stepping stones. How are you going to get more clients? References and referrals. How are you going to get more training? School. Extra classes. A mentor. Once you know how you’re going to get to your destination, you stand a better chance of actually reaching it.
This is important; you need to decide who will benefit the most from your firm’s services. For whom are you doing your work for? How will your clientele be characterized? Who do you see yourself helping, primarily—business owners, employees, consumers, victims, etc.?
Once you know who you’re serving, you can refine your techniques and consequently refocus all your strategy to suit the client’s specific needs. Generalization is the worst thing you can do for both your law firm and its future clients, as you cannot feasibly or logically serve everyone. Trying to do so will manifest in sloppy methods and vague statements that won’t do anyone a bit of good.
Define your area of specialization, and then define the people who stand to benefit the most from—or are most in need of—your services. You need to know exactly who you’re helping so you can help them properly.