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Are any of the lawyers who hang out here self-employed?

(9 Posts)
Tortoiseonthehalfshell Fri 15-Jul-11 06:19:01

I know there's a freelance/self employed section, but I want to talk to lawyers specifically, I think. Any sole practitioners or partners in a small business around who would mind me picking their brains a little bit re: start-up costs and building a client base?

Ta awfully.

mumblechum1 Fri 15-Jul-11 10:58:18

Hi, I'm an employed lawyer p/t doing family and wills and also run my own freelance will writing business.

Will writing is a relatively easy area of the law to practice on a self employed basis as it is only loosely regulated.

My start up costs were therefore just:

1. Indemnity Insurance

2. Website design

3. Other marketing, eg flyers in local schools' bookbags, sponsoring newsletters, free will vouchers in charity auctions etc

5. Stationery, business cards, new printer etc

Day to day costs are as above plus postage, mileage etc.

What sort of thing are you thinking of doing?

mumblechum1 Fri 15-Jul-11 10:59:03

Under 3. should have added costs of an ad on Mumsnet which brings in a couple of wills instructions per week.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Fri 15-Jul-11 14:23:04

Thanks so much, Mumble! We're a little way off wanting to actually make the leap, so I don't want to ask peers around this way lest they, well, alert our bosses!

Workers compensation, motor vehicle claims and probably other personal injury claims on the plaintiff side. Would probably also branch into wills, etc., so as to be a generalist practise with as wide a service as possible, but the former is where our experience is. Going into partnership with a close friend who used to also be my boss/mentor years ago when I first started out. We're very lucky that his wife is an accountant, so have a decent idea of how to price the actual start-up costs. For us we figure:

1) The computers and printer
2) Office furniture, which should be pretty cheap
3) Software licenses is a big ticket item - file management software, accounting software and billable hours recording software
4) Rent
5) Not sure about hiring a receptionist/bookkeeper, we might just buy transcription software and outsource the bookkeeping?

What I have NO clue how to cost, though, is how long it'll take to build up a client base to start breaking even on ongoing costs. With two of us, we can afford to take out business loans and cover the start-ups, and as long as DH gets the job he thinks he'll get next year I can afford to work without salary for a couple of months, but my business partner (BP?) has a lot more outgoing commitments than I do.

So, I don't know, how does one even start to estimate how long it'd take to build a file load and expect the first bills to be paid so as to start earning money?

mumblechum1 Fri 15-Jul-11 14:58:56

Are you in the UK Tortoise?

Have you looked into the new ABS rules (Alternative Business Structures)? I guess you must have, in the circs.

mumblechum1 Fri 15-Jul-11 15:00:26

I think with accident claim type work you could be waiting a hell of a long time to bill, so maybe you could do as I have and start it as a part time business but keep working in your day job?

With wills, I tend to be paid within a week of the invoice. Any later and I start getting twitchy.

HopeEternal Fri 15-Jul-11 23:51:43

Not sure about hiring a receptionist/bookkeeper, we might just buy transcription software and outsource the bookkeeping?

Be very careful about outsourcing your bookkeeping. Accounting in a solicitor's practice is a specialised field. You need someone who not only understands bookkeeping / accounting principles but also understands the peculiarities of VAT relating to a solicitor and has full understanding of the Solicitors' Accounts Rules.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Mon 18-Jul-11 07:11:36

No, mumble, Australia. And yes, I think a lot of accident claim plaintiff lawyers do wait a long time. We have no intention of being ambulance chasers No Win No Fee and would put periodic payment plans into place, but still. A week sounds nice. Maybe we should do wills.

I can keep my day job and do it part time for a while; currently I work 3 days a week and there's no restriction of trade in my contract, but my partner can't do that because we'd be going into direct competition with his current employer.

So I guess we'd need a couple of months' buffer at least before expecting any salary at all, and even then it wouldn't be much for a while.

It's all so complicated! Small business courses seem of limited use.

susiesheep2 Mon 18-Jul-11 11:49:32

You could try speaking with a business coach / advisor - I have worked with these in the past (they are international)

The bulk I expect of you initial costs will be for marketing / advertising...

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