Running your own law firm is a daunting task, but these tips can help you build a mindset that will lead to success!
Don’t assume that owning your own solo law firm is something mythical or impossible because it isn’t. Yes, it is very different from being an associate or partner working in someone else’s firm, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue the idea of being a solo practitioner.
If you’ve delayed starting your own solo venture because you can’t quite figure out how to make the mental leap from employee to owner, this article is for you. Here is what is necessary to get into the right mindset.
1. Focus On The Big Picture
One of the key mindsets that separate successful and unsuccessful solo law firms is the amount of focus and attention that the solo gives to the big picture. It’s very difficult to think holistically if you’ve worked long enough in a large firm or even a government position.
It’s easier, more comfortable, and often more fun to spend the majority of your time working in your business (working on client matters), as opposed to spending time working on your business (Marketing, networking, improving administrative systems, hiring staff). However, truly successful solo lawyers will understand that big-picture thinking is what drives the firm’s growth and overall success.
2. Be Prepared To Work Alone
This is another vague point, but it is a crucial one. When you work in a larger firm, you are affiliated with something larger than yourself and the projects you’re working on. But when you are a solo lawyer then literally everything is on you. This includes the legal work of course, but also things like marketing, accounting, administrative tasks, and everything else that is required to run a business.
This also means that the buck stops with you. There is no one else to blame a mistake on or to take credit for the outcome of any given situation. You have to be prepared that going solo not only means working alone but managing and operating by yourself as well.
One of the best things you can do to help overcome this is to join entrepreneurial groups or a mastermind group to keep you motivated and held accountable. Similarly, getting a mentor who is or was a solo lawyer can be incredibly helpful.
3. Focus On The Numbers
Yes, it would be great to have knowledge of financial statements, but it’s more important that you have a thorough understanding of the key performance indicators (KPI’s) that drive the day-to-day success of your solo law firm.
KPIs can provide an immediate snapshot of the overall performance of your firm. Depending upon the stated objectives and the urgency of the situation, certain KPIs may be reported daily or weekly, while others may require monthly or quarterly reviews.
An added benefit of creating KPIs is that the mere act of measurement and communicating the results promotes an atmosphere of learning and constant improvement within your law firm. The more you understand the key success factors of your practice, the more likely you are to develop creative and efficient ways to meet your objectives.
4. Plan Your Future
Plan for your firm’s future or at least have a clear picture of what it would look like. With a clear vision, decision-making becomes substantially easier, as you can focus on the important tasks that will move the needle for your practice. Essentially it keeps your eyes on the prize. Write down and memorize the three or five major things that will have the greatest positive impact on your solo firm and its ability to succeed.
You own your practice. No one cares about this firm as much as you and no one can do this job for you. But even though you’re a solo lawyer, that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Seek out the advice or guidance of a trusted mentor or join a mastermind group built of like-minded peers. Both will bring a fresh set of eyes and experience, keep you on track, and help ensure you don’t lose sight of the big-picture.