Key Indicators that You Should NOT Be Building a Law Firm

Not to be a Negative Nancy here (er, Bummer Bob?)…but let’s share a difficult truth: Building a law firm isn’t for everyone.

Furthermore, that’s okay.

Not every attorney has to own their own firm, nor should every attorney feel pressured to do so. Building one’s own firm offers unique advantages, to be sure—but if entrepreneurship isn’t a good fit for you, it will only bring unwanted stress, headaches, and possibly even financial loss.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting you walk away at the first sign of trouble. Building a business is hard work, and you should expect some challenges and stress along the way. But if you’ve started a firm and you’re seriously having doubts, let’s look at some telltale signs that building a law firm might not be right for you.


You value financial security over success.

Operating a business can feel very much like a roller coaster—especially at the beginning. Building a law firm is an entrepreneurial thing, and there’s nothing financially stable about being an entrepreneur. If you don’t thrive on some sense of risk or can’t stand the heat, you might be better off earning a steady paycheck in someone else’s firm.


You prefer practicing law to running a business.

This statement seems counterintuitive because you are, in fact, a lawyer. That’s what you’ve trained to do. But to build a law firm requires you to be both a lawyer and a business person. If you’re not at least as excited about business as you are about law, you may need a position that lets you focus more on the latter.


You can’t stay on top of the numbers.

Granted, there are people who can handle the books for you (we call them accountants), but this is your business. If you can’t at least speak the language of math and accounting; if you can’t fathom the concept of income versus expenses; if you can’t read a spreadsheet; then you’ll either make a string of bad business decisions, or your accountant will rob you blind. (Or both.) In any case, it’s a recipe for failure, and you should quit while you’re ahead.


You don’t like marketing.

Building a successful law firm is all about marketing yourself and your services to new clients. If you find yourself burying yourself in your cases to avoid marketing, it’s a strong sign you shouldn’t be in business for yourself.


You’re not happy.

I’m a firm believer that we should be engaged in work that fulfills us, and that our passions should drive our career choices. If you struggle to find the motivation, and you can’t take joy in running your own firm even when things are good—you need to rethink your approach.

So…if you relate to the above statements more than you’d care to admit, and you’ve come to realize attempting to run a firm is a mistake, what can you do to get out of it unscathed? Some tips to help:

·     Face the truth. Remember, it’s okay not to run your own firm, and there’s no shame in admitting it. If it’s not for you, plowing onward would be the real shame.

·     Look for someone to take over. Your business, such as it is, is still a monetary asset. The work you’ve put into it so far should definitely be of value to some up-and-coming attorney looking for a turnkey business—and you can hopefully walk away with some money in your bank account.

·     Refer your clients out. If you decide to simply close up shop, your existing clients will still need help. Find trustworthy attorneys in your network to send those clients to.

It’s worth repeating: Going through a difficult season is not necessarily a sign that you should quit. Before coming to that conclusion, let us help you troubleshoot and strategize. To learn more, call us at 888-207-2869.

Building Better Business Systems For Law Firm Owners