Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Practice Wishlist...

My Wishlist for "toys" in starting a solo family law (with simple wills and trusts thrown in) practice....

1) Malpractice Insurance. Okay, so this is a requirement that I would never think about practicing without. I'm really not sure what the cost of this is. I've heard a low of $500 for new attorneys out of California. I'm pulling the figure of $2400-3000 out of the air. Any hints from new attorneys practicing in Washington?

2) A tablet/notebook computer. Little geeky, and probably not something I'd need to buy right away since I already have access to an older averatec notebook computer, but a new laptop that I can take notes on and edit documents by hand just sounds too cool. Price tag: $1500-2000.

3) Practice Management Software, which I need to learn more about. Seems to be an overwhelming amount of choices out there. PC Law and Time Matters seem to be the big players. Price Tag: $250 stripped-down, no support version for one user via PCLaw.

4) Continuing Legal Education and Practice Books. Actually, I have a good start on this. I love being able to take and buy these things and write off the expenses! I think I'm one of the few attorneys who does not grumble about CLE requirements. I just wish we had more courses offered on the East Side of Washington (the desert - yes, there is a desert in the Evergreen State!)

5) Area specific software, such as Familysoft ($950) or Drafting libraries for wills/trusts. ($500) or West's drafting wills and trust agreements ($895)

6) A scanner-color laser printer-copier-fax machine all in one. Price tag: $750.

7) Virtual office or conference room I can rent by the hour or on a limited time basis. Until I get busy enough to justify it, I just don't want to get into the expense of a full-time office and furnishings. Plus, I want to open a solo practice, at least in part, to set my own flexible hours. Too many expenses and I'll have to work full time. One such place in my town runs $175-275 a month (not including many services). Seems a bit overpriced for a small town, but hopefully there are other options that are a bit more reasonable.

8) A phone number/line. I'm thinking either through my cell phone, or a second line into the house I can forward to my cell phone.

9) A webpage. I can't believe in this day and age and with the ease of setting up web sites that all attorneys do not have a simple webpage set up. See Godaddy for some cheap webhosting and templates. [Of course, you get what you pay for - but in this instance, I think that doing a not-so-perfect webpage is better than not setting up a site at all. However, no misspelled words or grammatical errors, please! Nothing looks more unprofessional than a legal website with misspelled words and bad grammar.]

10) A practice-specific blog. I would think that running a blog in one's practice area would force an attorney to stay up-to-date on her area of law. Grant Griffiths of Kansas Family and Divorce Lawyer says that his blog is the only advertising he engages in.

11) Miscellaneous: business cards, phone line, stationary, brochure describing practice areas, etc. (Yawn).

Of course, I would not go out and buy this right away. The only must-have item, in my opinion, is the malpractice insurance and virtual office. The rest could come as work and money came in.


At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 8:22 AM, Blogger Grant Griffiths said...

And yes, my blog is my only advertising I am doing. The results have been great. However, it if focused and I do believe that is important. Too many law firm blogs try to be everything to everyone. My blog and others like it, focus on one area.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Brandon Wilson said...

In California the $500 malpractice insurance is through Lawyer's Mutual. Their Smart Start program starts at $500 for lawyers with less than three years' experience, with premiums stepping up each year. By year six the annual premium is around $4,000.

As for the all-in-one, if you can do without the color I recommend the Brother MFC-7820N. Does everything you want/need, plus has built-in Ethernet so you can network it if your office grows down the line.

Also - shameless plug - check out my blog for some more ideas on choosing drafting software for wills and trusts.

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

Slowdown there. One thing at a time.

1. I have no idea what insurance costs, but call your state bar and ask them for a preferred provider. You probably dont need more than a $100 policy with a $5,000 deductible. That should drop the cost.

2. Go for it. (Why not?)

3. Ask others in your practice area what they use. And ask the companies for a free trial period. TimeMatters offered me one and I love it, but you need to find what works for you.

4. Are you an ABA member? If so, you can get free CLE. (Go to my blog and search for CLE and you will find my post about it.)

5. Follow Brandon's advice.

6. Save $500 and lose the color. How much color printing are you going to do? I bought a Canon at Staples for $250. Its a laser copier, scanner and black and white printer. If I need to print in color, I can go to Kinkos!

7. Go read Grant's Home Office Lawyer blog. You dont need the virtual office.

8. The cell phone idea works great.

9. You do need a webpage. (Again, go read my post on it.) Look at Brinkster.

10. You need a blog as well. Grant should crowned "King of Blogs" for the number and quality of his blogs and for his use of the blogs.

11. The miscellaneous should be done first. Business cards are a necessity. But print your own letterhead.

12. Relax. It all gets done eventually!

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you checked out National Business Institute for your CLE? They offer several seminars in Spokane. There website is

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