How to create a solid business plan for your own legal practice
July 23, 2020
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Taking full control of your own legal practice is a big step for any senior lawyer; though by joining forces with a challenger law firm, you certainly don’t have to go it alone.
Having welcomed over 250 legal practitioners into the gunnercooke family over the past decade, it’s clear to me that one of the essential factors for success is taking the time to really consider what your ideal practice looks like and developing a strong business plan from the outset.
I’ve also learned there is no one-size-fits-all model that works for everyone. Different people have different targets and aspirations, whether that’s to grow their own team, double down on their core client base or facilitate work for other colleagues. That’s why I wanted to share a few essential points to think about when developing a business plan that works for you.
Setting out a clear vision
The first step for any senior practitioner is to really get to grips with their own ideas and deciding what their ideal practice will look like.
- Are you looking to build your own personal team or delegate certain work?
- How will you be approaching business development and marketing your services?
- Will you be working mostly from home, a central office or client premises – and what will you need to do so?
These are all key questions that need to be answered prior to setting up your own business. The best lawyers recognise that technical legal expertise and true commercial knowhow are two different things. They are open to learning, coaching and taking every opportunity to become more adept at the business side of things.
Pricing your services
At gunnercooke, we believe the age-old approach of timesheets and hourly billing serves neither lawyers nor their clients well. Skill, expertise and value are far more integral to the delivery of quality legal services than the amount of time spent, which is why we recommend that lawyers start to think about value-based pricing models that avoid fee creep and offer clients more certainty on cost.
Many of our lawyers also benefit by having the freedom to offer retainers and alternative pricing structures. I’ll be talking more about this as part of a more in-depth blog within the next few weeks so keep an eye out if you’re looking for more insight on pricing strategy.
Letting your clients know
Every senior lawyer knows the value of building long-lasting relationships with their clients, based on open communication and trust. If you’ve decided now is the time to take the reins on your own practice and move to a more flexible way of working, you should speak to your long-standing clients about your intentions and bring them along in your business planning process.
Many of our lawyers have built a strong client following over the years and find their clients still wish to engage their services for the foreseeable future. There’s certainly no harm in keeping people updated and explaining the situation in plain terms – in fact, you may be able to secure a few quick wins by doing just that.
Preparing your family
Breaking away from the confines of a traditional firm is a big move, not just for you but your family too. It’s important to discuss your vision for a better way of working with them, whether that’s to spend more time at home or pursue other projects whilst still being able to grow your legal practice at your own pace.
Ultimately, those that have a clear plan, a positive mindset and a good client following are best-placed to get their own practice off the ground and manage the everyday challenges that come with running their own business. Of course, we’re here to support your new venture every step of the way.
If you’re currently thinking about making the switch to a more flexible way of working, or you’d like to have a quick chat about your own business plan, feel free to send me a message by email, phone or LinkedIn – details below!