Opening your own law practice: where do you start?


Many lawyers ask me how to go about opening their own law practice. At the risk of sounding glib and too clever for my own good, my short answer is “you just do”.

You find a place to park your carcass and see clients and then you go get some.

Okay, let’s see if we can break this down a bit. I will assume that you don’t have a lot of cash, or you don’t want to spend it up front, which is a good plan even if you do have a lot of cash.

You may be able to do most of your work from home initially, but you will need a place to see clients. So the first step is to find someone who will let you use their conference room or a spare office to do that. You can offer to pay them by the hour or a flat monthly fee or you can do appearances or other legal work to pay for it.

You could do this in any office but there are advantages to renting space in an office occupied by attorneys: access to their library, surrounding yourself with colleagues who can help you when you have a question, and the ability to get overflow work.

Which leads to the next step: getting clients.

First, set up a simple website. Get your own domain name ( and at least a single page site that describes who you are, what you do, and how to contact you.

Put your domain name and email address ( and phone number on everything: business cards, stationery, email signature, social media profiles, etc.

Next, if you worked for a firm before, contact clients you did work for or know and let them know you’ve opened your own office. Call them personally. Don’t pressure them, just let them know your news. Give them your website. Make a note to contact them again in a month or two.

After that, tell everyone else you know that you’re open for business and send them to your website. Don’t send announcements. Nobody reads them. Send letters or emails. Explain why you opened your own office and the services you are now offering.

Call five or ten of these folks a day and ask how they are doing. You’ve got the time, bub. Ask if they got your letter or email. At the end of the call, say what every new real estate agents says: “If you know anyone who needs/is thinking about. . . please send them my way”.

Plant the seed that you’re open for referrals.

Add this: “Also, I know a lot of attorneys in other areas of practice, so if you know someone with ANY legal need, let me know and I’ll refer them to a good attorney”.

One of the best ways to get referrals from other attorneys is to give them referrals.

When they say they will, say thanks and tell them you’ll be sending them some additional information.


When I opened my office, I got most of my first clients from other attorneys, so contact every attorney you know and let them know you’re available for overflow and appearances. See Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals to learn more.

Next, write something. A report or ebook that helps people understand problems and solutions. At the end, tell them how you can help them and the people they know.

Then get that report into as many hands as possible, through as many methods as possible. Let the report sell you and your services. See The 30 Day Referral Blitz on how to write an effective report and how to distribute it.

Now what? Now, you explore other ways for marketing yourself and there are many others. Many ways to get your name in front of people, build a list, expand your website and get more traffic, get more referrals, and otherwise bring in business. Once you start getting clients, there are ways to leverage your relationships to bring in even more.

You can expect the early days to be rough going. They were for me. But today, you have the Internet and a lot of other tools for finding clients, and you also have me. Read my blog, get my courses, educate yourself, and take action every day. Focus on marketing and you will make it.

Is it scary? Hell yes. But so is being unemployed and not knowing what to do, or wanting to open your own office and thinking there’s too much to do and you don’t know where to start.

Now you know where to start. And starting is everything.

The keys to building a successful law practice: click here


How to get your first client (or your next client)


An attorney who is starting his own practice wrote me asking how he could get his first client.

I’ve written before about the value of doing a S.W.O.T. analysis. “S” stands for “Strengths”; “W” means weaknesses; “O” is for “Opportunities”; “T” means “Threats”. You can read more about this here and here.

If you’re launching a new practice, or setting goals for growing and improving your existing practice, a S.W.O.T. analysis is a good place to start.

The attorney who wrote me didn’t tell me anything about his background or experience, or anything else, frankly, other than the fact that he doesn’t have an office. (I’d put the latter in the category of “Weaknesses”. Get thee some office space, my legal friend.)

Anyway, getting your first client. Or your next client. Start by assessing your “Opportunities” (and keep an eye on your “Strengths”).

Who do you know? Make a list of employers, your employers’ clients with whom you have a relationship, other lawyers, and business contacts. Include family and friends on your list.

Who do you know socially or from church? Do you have hobbies or something you do outside of work? If there are other people involved, put them on your list.

The point is that everyone you know, or have known in the past, may have legal work for you, or referrals. They may be able to introduce you to people who have work or referrals.

To get your first client, contact everyone you know and let them know what you do and what you want. Tell them how they can help you and ask them to do that. Ask them for referrals, ask them for introductions, and if they have experience in the business world, ask them for advice.

While you’re at it, ask them if they know where you can find an office space. Which reminds me, when you get an office, get in a suite or building with other lawyers. You can get work from them. That’s how I got clients when I opened my first office. Overflow, conflicts of interest, appearances.

What else?

Create a website. Add ten or twenty articles or posts that demonstrate your expertise. You need an an online presence so prospective clients and referral sources can find out what you do and how you can help them.

In fact, do this first. Then, when you contact everyone you know and tell them what you’re doing, you can send them to your website.

If you don’t know how to create a website that pulls in business, get my course, Make the Phone Ring, to learn what to include on your website and how to use it to get traffic, build a list, and get new clients.

Other opportunities? Look around you. Find some places to network or deliver a presentation. You’ve got the time. Don’t sit there organizing files, go meet some new people. Look for people you can help, and not just with legal issues. Send them business and introduce them to others who can help them. Build a relationship with them.

Every day, you need to build your email list. All of your marketing efforts from this point on should be designed to get more people to opt into your list. As your list grows, and as you stay in touch with them and remind them that you are available to help them solve legal problems, your list of clients will grow.

That’s enough for now. Do these things and you’ll have your first client. Or your next client.

Want more referrals? The 30 Day Referral Blitz shows you how.