The Ins and Outs of Starting Up an Independent Legal Practice


Joanna Erlington, Negosentro | Starting an independent practice is a lot different than working under an established law firm made up of experienced attorneys. When you represent clients, you have to take their best interests into account. At the University of Southern California, the online master of laws program is a direct gateway to private practice. You will learn more than the basics of every area of law, and you’ll get practical advice as to what requisites there for starting a private practice. Working independently is the goal of many novice attorneys, and with a strong plan, you can do so directly out of law school.

Figuring Out What Areas of Law You Should Specialize In

As a legally licensed attorney, you can practice in any area of law that you are knowledgeable in. With that said, you may not be in a good position if you start out being a generalist. There should be a few overlapping areas of law that you are confident in when giving oral arguments and writing motions. For example, child custody attorneys may also want to look at working in the area of child support, as they are inter-related. If you are a criminal defense attorney then working with clients who are standing accused of DUI could help you to become more established.

Making Connections While Still in Law School

You should have plans to start your own private practice as you work on your online LLM degree and look at passing the bar in as many states as possible. There are a great number of openings for law students to meet others who may be helpful in establishing a legal career, and ultimately a private legal practice. Join legal associations, go to legal events, and engage in conversations with lawyers, judges, clerks, and paralegals as you prepare for your upcoming future. You want other legal professionals to know your name and your work so that you can get as many referrals as possible.

Finding A Suitable Law Office Location

Remember that as you are just starting out you don’t necessarily need to rent that huge office space in the most desirable area in your city if you need a professional office to meet clients. Begin with a location that is clean, modest, safe, and quiet so that clients look at you, your talents, and your drive rather than admire the artwork on the wall. Let the bigger and more established law firms pay the rental fees on the large and finely decorated offices while you work on building a reputation for solid work.

Respond to all communications from future and existing clients. Give all of your clients your undivided attention when you speak to them and work respectfully with other attorneys if you want your private practice to succeed. You don’t need to take on 25 cases at the same time to become professionally or financially successful. Strategize as you build your newly established independent legal practice.

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