So you graduated and passed the bar and you’re ready to hang up your own shingle. Or maybe you tried the 9 to 5 and it just doesn’t fit or maybe you’re like me and the dream job didn’t work out for you. Either way, you now find yourself a solopreneur. This can be both frightening and exciting at the same time. I have always been one who supports “a dollar and a dream.” Even when it’s really just a dollar. But while we pray every night “Father stretch my bands,” and look for minimal costs, there are some investments that have to be prioritized from the beginning for a smooth long run. These are our top ten…
1. Power Suit
We have to dress for the job we want, not the job we have. The goal is to have a successful law practice but we have to fake it until we make it. People associate looking like you have money with stewardship so we have to play the role. Plus we are representing them and that is what they are paying for, good representation. I love to shop at the thrift store because I have champagne taste with a 40oz. budget, but always watch for sales at department stores especially around the holidays. Also, check the ABA membership for discounts on some designers.
2. Website Domain
Having a website gives you credibility. Not just social media (although that is equally important) but you need a website. There are a lot of free website providers out there like Squarespace and Wix, or you could do a blog format like WordPress or BlueHost. Pay for the domain name and even if its just basic, have a website.
3. Email Address
You want to have an email registered to your domain address. This will make your clients feel secure in contacting you, especially with all of the hacking going on these days. Teenagers can have free Yahoo and Google email providers, so you want to distinguish yourself with an official email address. I was able to get one free with my site through my Google account. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Logo and Branding
You want to have some kind of logo and brand recognition for your firm. Now Im not talking about a lux branding package but consistent, clean brand recognition with colors and fonts. You can make this, on your own, for free on Canva and Pinterest has tons of branding boards to help you pair colors and fonts. I post a lot of different professional ones so if you follow me on Pinterest @addmildsauce you will see them. Make a brand for your firm and use it every time on your envelopes, letterheads, business cards, etc.
5. Business Cards
You can’t do business without business cards. Periodt. (I just wanted to say that lol). I will be the first to admit that I felt business cards were outdated or that they would be soon, but I think they are here to stay. With that said, you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to having them. Canva lets you design your own business cards that can match your branding and they will print and ship them. I had some made on Canva and I was pleased with the quality. I collect business cards like candy; I have Fortune 500 CEO cards as well as mixtape producer cards. Canva can get the job done for a decent price.
Tip: Make a contact for yourself and have it ready in your phone so you can send it really quick to someone if you’re ever without cards.
You don’t have to pay for this but again brand recognition. It would be a good investment to have a good printer and nice paper. A printer can slap your letterhead on your envelopes and letters and make you look real official, real quick. I also like cotton paper when corresponding with clients and other attorneys for a personal touch. When you think about correspondence vs. court documents. You don’t send out that much correspondence, so the cotton paper investment isn’t a whole lot. I use this paper and I get it from Amazon.
7. Business Registration
This is a no brainer. Make sure you legitimize your business with the State and Feds from the start, for liability and tax purposes.
Because the Feds are watching and you honestly want to protect yourself.
9. Phone Service
Google will let you get a phone number for free or for the low (if it’s a high demand area code). Trust me, you don’t want clients to have your personal cell but you do want a number and a way for them to leave you voice messages.
10. Law Practice Management Software
I put this one last because it is not an immediate need. It’s more like a “as soon as you can” need. Microsoft Office can definitely get the job done but if you want to maximize your time (because time is money), you want a program built for the purpose of managing a legal practice. I am in the process of testing these out myself so I will have an upcoming post on that. Make sure you subscribe so you can see how I compare and contrast some of the options out there.
Honorable Mention: Social Media
This is free, which is why it wasn’t numbered but treat it like the almighty power it is. Kanye’s wife’s sister credited her Billionaire status to social media. Be consistent, responsive, and post often.
“I got a dollar and a dream, just a dollar and a dream.” – J. Cole
from the lawyer next door,
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