Getting a new practice off the ground isn’t cheap. Indeed, we recently considered how much money you’ll need to start your own solo practice or new firm. As we discussed there, that depends entirely on your specific personal, financial, and professional needs. Without question, there are many things to evaluate when determining how much you’ll need.
Nonetheless, there are a few tools that nearly every attorney will want to have when launching their practice. Thankfully, you may own many of these tools already. When I started my practice I found that I already owned many of these tools. In some cases, though, I found that I nonetheless needed to upgrade the tools I already had. My old printer, for example, was already infamous in our home for leaking ink and regular paper jams. Clearly, you’ll want to make sure that your tools help make your practice more efficient, and aren’t a drag on your time. Let’s take a look at the tools you’ll need.
I start here because I believe a computer is truly the one piece of technology that no attorney can ethically practice law without. Your computer is how you prepare documents, how you connect to the internet to perform both fact and legal research, and how you’ll often communicate with clients, witnesses, opposing counsel and court personnel. It’s also worth investing in a reliable computer that is nimble and efficient. You’ll do enough work on it and we can probably all agree that technology failures are a huge impediment to productivity. Personally, I like MacBook Pros. They aren’t cheap, but they are extremely reliable.
Backup Storage Drive Or Cloud-Based Storage
Whether you choose a physical back-up drive, a cloud-based storage server, or (better yet) some combination of both, you absolutely must keep backups of billing records, work product prepared for clients, evidence, and all other information that is created in the course of your practice. Not only would it be a nightmare to lose all of that information, I’d be concerned that it might constitute malpractice to fail to do so in many circumstances. Whatever you do, keep a backup.
Fax / Scanner / Printer
I list these three devices together because they are often bundled together nowadays. For my office I bought a Brother MFC7860DW for my office. It isn’t very costly and it allows you to print necessary documents, scan documents and fax documents as necessary.
You can certainly live without a land line nowadays (I do), but you’ll need a phone that you can use for business. Whether you keep a mobile and a landline is up to you and your needs.
Although there are many word processing options for attorneys, it’s my opinion that Microsoft Office is still a necessity. Sure, it is possible to get by with Google Docs, Word Perfect, or similar programs. Nonetheless, most of your clients and the attorneys you’ll do business with will be using Microsoft Word and Excel. Using other tools often leads to compatibility issues, formatting problems, and similar headaches.
Clio, Rocket Matter, MyCase, or Total Attorney
I don’t believe practice management software is a necessity at all, but I do believe they can simplify your practice. Many malpractice carriers also offer discounts if you use them. So, with options as cheap as $1 per user per month (Total Attorneys) there is no reason to skip out on these tools. Many of them even offer secure client portals for protecting sensitive information being transferred between you and your client. This is especially nice if you run a virtual law office. Read our reviews of Clio, Rocket Matter, MyCase and Total Attorney to decide which is right for you.
Like Microsoft Office, this is pretty much standard technology for all small businesses. It’ll definitely save you time and headaches.
Did I miss anything that you thing is necessary for a new office? Let me know.