Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Tips for Opening a Solo Practice


If you’re a new lawyer thinking of opening a solo practice, now could be the perfect time.


Over the past two years, the legal industry has been turned on its head, with space opening up for new players and new ideas.

But the basics of going solo successfully haven’t changed: work hard, make professional contacts, serve your clients with excellence, take the long view.

And don’t stress over your GPA or relative lack of experience. Clients want to see commitment, caring and energy – not your law school diploma.

“Not one client who hired me ever questioned my experience or my law school grades,” writes California lawyer Michael Rubinstein in an article for the ABA Journal. “All they wanted to know was whether I was a lawyer who could do the job competently and compassionately. Work in an area you are passionate about. If you did particularly well in one of your law school classes—as I did in torts—that might be an indication of an area in which you might enjoy practicing.”

Another tip: never take a case out of desperation.

“Don’t take bad cases just because you are hungry for clients,” advises Rubinstein. “From time to time, especially in your early years of practicing, you may be tempted to take questionable cases. Don’t. If your gut tells you that the client is problematic, take a pass. These types of cases almost always end up being more trouble than they are worth. Your time will be better spent on other, more productive pursuits. Just remember, there is enough business out there for everyone.”

Read “Five Tips for New Lawyers Who Want to Go Solo” in the ABA Journal here. 

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Opening a Solo Practice: A Lawyers Mutual Practice Guide

“Building a firm from the ground up, as a solo or as a member of a small practice, requires thought and organization,” says Lawyers Mutual in its online practice guide, Opening a Solo Practice. “It also requires a lot of hard work but can be exceptionally rewarding. The business of operating a practice must be addressed when you are opening and managing your own firm. Before you can begin assisting clients, you must determine the location of the practice and assemble all the pieces to have a successful practice. Be sure to obtain the licenses and equipment required and choose the appropriate software so that everything runs smoothly. When that first client walks in the door, you should be ready to serve.”

Following is the Table of Contents from the Lawyers Mutual practice guide “Opening a Solo Practice,” which can be downloaded here for free.

Table of Contents

  • Opening the Law Office
  • Choosing a Malpractice Provider
  • The Attorney-Client Relationship
  • Checklist for Starting a Law Practice
  • Service Provider Confidentiality Agreement
  • Prospective Client Questionnaire
  • Office Intake: New Client
  • Checklist for Docket Entries
  • New Client Docket Information Sheet
  • Weekly Firm Docket
  • Calendar Notice
  • Engagement Letter: Hourly Fee
  • Engagement Letter: Contingency Fee
  • Virtual Law Office Engagement Letter
  • Engagement Letter: Limited Scope Retainer Agreement
  • Engagement Letter: Residential Real Estate Transaction, Full Title Search
  • Engagement Letter: Residential Real Estate Transaction, Limited Title Search
  • Non-engagement Letter
  • Disengagement Letter: Closing Letter
  • Post-Representation Survey
  • Sample Telephone Policy & Procedures Handout for Clients
  • Telephone Log
  • Telephone Conference Record
  • Monthly Status Letter
  • Sample Invoice
  • Standard Chart of Accounts
  • Client Ledger Card
  • Trust Accounts Receipts and Disbursements Journal
  • 3-Way Reconciliation Worksheet
  • Trust Safe Deposit Receipt
  • Resource List


Source: Lawyers Mutual openinglawoffice.indd (


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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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