Practice Management Advisory Service

Checklist for Starting a Law Practice

Prepare a Business Plan
  1. Executive Summary
    1. Mission Statement
    2. Description of Law Firm
    3. Firm Goals and Strategy
    4. Practice Areas
    5. Pro Bono Activity
    6. Financing Requirements
  2. Firm’s Description
    1. Name & Ownership
    2. Decision Making and Operation
  3. Marketing Strategy
    1. Target Market
    2. Budget
    3. Local Economy
    4. Marketing Plan
    5. Current and Potential Clients
    6. Competition
  4. Firm Economics
    1. Start–up Costs
    2. Billing Projections
    3. Expenses
    4. Overhead Review
  5. Financial Plan
    1. Budget
    2. Financing Sources
    3. Break–even Analysis
    4. Financial Projections
Choose the Entity Type and Know Why
  1. Sole Proprietorship
  2. General Partnership
  3. Limited Liability Partnership
  4. Professional Service Corporation/Professional Association
  5. Professional Limited Liability Company
Office Space Considerations
  1. Geographic Location
  2. Competition/Cooperation
  3. Size
  4. Home Office
  5. Office Services Suite
  6. Space Sharing
  7. Lease/Ownership
Accounting
  1. Meet with CPA or bookkeeper
    1. Set up chart of accounts
    2. Establish accounting procedures
  2. Internal/External Dynamic
  3. Purchase Software
  4. Payroll Services
Open Bank and Trust Accounts*
  1. Operating Account
  2. Trust Account
  3. IOLTA Account
Technology
  1. Software
    1. Word Processing
    2. Time and Billing
    3. Conflicts Checking
    4. Case Management
    5. Accounting System
  2. Hardware
    1. Telephone
    2. Computers
    3. Printers
    4. Scanners
    5. Copier
    6. Fax Machines
  3. Internet
    1. Internet Service Provider
    2. High Speed Internet, Cable vs. DSL
  4. Legal Research
    1. Fastcase, Westlaw, Lexis-Nexis, Casemaker
    2. Free/low-cost services
Office Equipment, Services and Supplies
  1. Postage Provider and Meter
  2. Furniture
  3. Telephone System
  4. Business Cards
  5. Announcement Cards
  6. Office Supplies
Insurance
  1. Professional Liability
  2. Workers’ Compensation
  3. Health Insurance
  4. Property and Casualty Insurance
  5. Cyber Insurance
*Open Bank and Trust Acounts

Effective August 1, 2010, D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15 was amended to make participation in the D.C. IOLTA program mandatory for D.C. lawyers who receive IOLTA–eligible funds, subject to certain limited exceptions. Rule 1.19 and Appendix B to the D.C. Court of Appeals Rules Governing the Bar were also deleted. Provisions from former Rule 1.19 and Appendix B are now located in new §20 of D.C. Court of Appeals Rule XI. For more information about IOLTA in the District of Columbia, go to: Opening an IOLTA Account Now that IOLTA is Mandatory in the District of Columbia