For anyone considering starting up their own law firm or ABS there are three core elements to bear in mind. Those are –

  • Ensure Compliance
  • Create Efficiency
  • Reduce Risk
Every decision you make should have those factors in mind.

Let me explain.

More than ever before the running of a law firm has to be seen as a business. Many existing law firms are seeking to redesign their operating model. They are considering what they should do about premises they already own. Law firms are wondering whether the Practice Management System (PMS) they have is good enough. They are interested in outsourcing elements of their business but don’t know where to start.

Often they are having to take half measures and compromise in some way on each of the 3 core elements I mentioned.

The beauty of a start up is that you start with the proverbial blank sheet of paper. No need for compromise, so what should you be looking at when you are planning?

Ensure compliance

You will need to go through a regulatory authorisation process. You will need to have systems and procedures in place that convince eg SRA or CLC that you will be operating compliantly. Top tips-

  • Get advice from specialist consultants on the authorisation forms and processes – they are complex, and there is definitely a skill to completing them
  • Consider using outsourcers for core areas where compliance is essential eg the firm’s finance function
  • You’ll need a business plan, so get help from an expert legal sector accountant, with in depth relevant knowledge of structures and tax
Create Efficiency

You’ll be running a business! Make sure that your new firm will work smart. Have the right technology underpinning an attitude that says “We are here to do a great job for our clients, while at the same time maximising our profitability.” Top tips for achieving this –

  • Take the time to understand what technology you will need. There are many PMSs out there but consider what you really need it for. Is it workflows? Cloud storage? Will the accounts element give you the reporting capability you’ll need to make business decisions? Watch some demos, and if need be ask independent experts to help you.
  • Optimise your working processes – map those processes, and ensure you have the right level of person dealing with the right task. This will not only save you time and effort, but will create a better end user experience for your clients – vital in these days of Google reviews and Trustpilot.
Reduce risk

You’ll face numerous threats to the business – cyber security challenges, internal fraud, negligence, business continuity. Make sure that you consider these in detail from the outset and mitigate the risks. It will help you obtain the best possible PII premium, as well as helping you sleep at night. Top tips –

  • Consider going for Cyber Essentials Plus rather than the basic accreditation. There are numerous organisations that can help you build the best, most cost effective and, crucially, resilient IT estate. Use their expertise.
  • Make sure you vet new recruits carefully, and build monitoring and supervision processes which keep an eye on things. This isn’t just from a negative point of view – these processes should be part of a framework which supports your employees.
  • Consider outsourcing key elements where the expertise required is not within your skill set – give someone else the supervision headache, and increase that business resilience by utilising external flexible resource.

There are many elements to consider when setting up a business, but if you keep those three in mind, you won’t go far wrong.