Starting a business of any kind is a challenge: more than half of all entrepreneurs fail after their fifth year in business. However, following these steps to establish a family law firm will help you avoid becoming a statistic.
By Angela Elliott Frazier, Family Lawyer
Earning a law degree and being admitted to the bar unfortunately no longer guarantees a job in a law firm. Even before the pandemic, only about 60% of law firms were looking towards hiring new attorneys. This number is likely even lower now that we are in a pandemic recession. Considering these facts, you might want to explore hanging up your own shingle. Since the thought of starting a firm can be overwhelming, here are the tried and true steps from those who have gone before you.
Here are the Steps to Establish a Family Law Firm
1. Find Your Niche
Your law firm will benefit the most from focusing on a particular niche market. Focus on your niche before your law firm ever accepts its first client so that you set yourself up for success when it does.
You’ve picked a niche in becoming a family law attorney. Do you want to address all areas of family law, or do you want to narrow your practice even further into sub-specialties such as international adoption, LGBTQ family issues, or high-asset divorce, for instance?
What training, education, and experience have you acquired that most other people in your niche have not? Outside of the practice of law, how can you best connect with your target market?
Your website and social media platforms should make your niche clear to prospective clients. You can use these platforms as a place to market your services and tell potential law clients why they should hire you instead of the competition.
2. Register Your Business
Before starting a law firm of any type, you need to register your business with your state’s Department of Corporations. Companies need to register to be official in the state’s eyes (s) they operate in.
However, before taking this step, it’s necessary to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. This number is unique to your firm and is required to file both state and federal income taxes and for reporting your employee’s income taxes, including any revenue you pay yourself.
Upon registering your business with the state, you will also need to provide the following information:
- Officer name(s) and their primary mailing address
- A registered agent, along with their address
A registered agent is someone authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the firm if a lawsuit is filed against it.
3. Reserve a Unique and Memorable Domain Name for Your Website
In today’s digital age, no company or firm will survive without some sort of online presence. If you can’t be found online, you likely don’t exist with your potential clients. The first step in building an online presence is to reserve a domain name.
The web address or URL someone uses to access a website is a domain name. Getting one might seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of establishing your law firm; however, it’s imperative to your business’s short- and long-term success.
Select a domain name that is exclusive to your family law firm, but don’t let it get overly long or complicated. Domain names that are wordy, confusing, or difficult to recall may not be found by your potential clients when they go to find you online.
You should provide prospective clients who want to visit your website with a smooth and effortless process. If that’s not what they experience, they will most likely look elsewhere online for their legal service needs. Don’t let something as simple as a difficult domain name deter prospective clients from getting the help you offer.
4. Create an Optimized Website
A short and catchy domain name for users is a necessary step. Still, you’ll need to develop a website that’s built for search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO (search engine optimization) is a form of internet marketing. It can help your website rank higher in search engine results. A website’s SEO can make the difference between having it readily visible on the internet or being buried in millions of results and ultimately overlooked.
As a future business owner, you might be alarmed to learn that 75% of Google users never scroll past the first page of search results. If you can’t get your website to rank on this first page, preferably in the first few results, it can be very difficult to get the clients you need to keep our business afloat.
For instance, if you’re a Seattle lawyer working on divorce cases, you’ll want to rank on the first page of Google results for “Seattle divorce attorneys.” Ways to optimize your website’s rankings include:
- Using videos and photographs
- Regularly posting blog content that uses searchable keywords and phrases
You may even want to consider hiring an experienced SEO marketing firm to help you create a website that will take your law firm to the next level.
5. Utilize Your Networking Power
One pillar of business success is networking. Simply put, don’t hesitate to tell other people what your vision is and what your law firm is doing. If you’ve been working in private practice for another firm before starting your own, you’ve likely developed an extensive professional network.
It might seem silly but, take the time to create a list of names in your professional network. Doing so will help you comprehend the depth of your connections and ensure you don’t forget anyone. Once you’ve identified all the members of your network, send an announcement in the form of a letter or an email to let everyone in your network know what you’re doing.
A professional network is a valuable and easy way to produce leads and referrals for your law firm. It might also be the key to getting your family law firm off the ground when you first open your doors.
Follow These Steps to Establish a Successful Family Law Firm
Starting a business of any kind is a challenge. Getting past the first year or two can be a relief, but it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Sadly, more than half of all entrepreneurs fail after their fifth year in business. However, you don’t need to contribute to that statistic and can help avoid it by following these steps to establish a family law firm.
Angela Elliott Frazier began practicing law in 2004 and founded the Elliott Frazier Law firm in 2012. A graduate of Clemson University, Columbia College, and the University of South Carolina School of Law, Angela focuses her practice on family law, representing injury victims, and individuals with needs related to conservatorship and guardianship. www.elliottfrazierlaw.com
WATCH: How Google My Business Can Help Your Family Law Firm Grow
In this video, Dan Couvrette speaks with Joy Hawkins about how a Google My Business listing can help to fuel a family law firm’s growth.
CRM: Energizing Your Law Firm’s Marketing Strategy
The right Contact Relationship Management system can help your family law firm run more efficiently; it can also streamline & increase your marketing activities.