How to open a profitable law agency
Starting your own business is something that sooner or later any practicing lawyer begins to think about. To do this, you will need not only to understand the laws but also to navigate in marketing, finance, and accounting.
You can start a legal business without specialized education, taking on only organizational work. But be prepared for the fact that it will be difficult to control the business.
The business does not require a license, which means that anyone can do it, but in order to survive among a large number of competitors in the market, it is necessary to pay enough attention to drawing up a business plan.
Relevance and types
Legal services are one of the few types of entrepreneurial activity that remains relevant at any time, including periods of crises and falling income. And in recent years, in the world and in Russia, in particular, there has been a tendency of increasing interest in the competent protection of their labor and social rights.
With the improvement of the economic situation, the demand for the services of lawyers and notaries is only growing. So, if you have deep knowledge of the issue and a well-prepared business plan, you can make very good money on the provision of legal assistance and advice. Even if there are already large companies on the market that can compete.
Legal companies are classified by size and number of employees. Summing up both factors, we get the following varieties:
- Boutiques – specialize in solving highly specialized issues for a lot of money. The company employs from 5 to 10 highly qualified full-time lawyers.
- Large companies – the staff has about 50 employees. Provides services in various areas of law.
- Specialized firms are small organizations that specialize in one area. Basically, they provide support in the preparation and execution of documents, registration of rights.
You will also need to indicate in the plan one of the b2b (business to business) areas – work with corporate clients or b2c (business to client) – private consultations or assistance to private clients. It is possible to work with both directions at once, but more staff will be required, since private and corporate law have many differences.
Market description and analysis
Studying competitors, as well as demand, is an important part of the opening plan, since the chosen direction of activity will largely depend on it. The legal services market is huge and includes more and more different areas. When drawing up a plan, be aware that no new company will be able to fully cover all possible directions.
Many experts even believe that at the beginning of the activity it is worth concentrating on one specific direction, gaining a reputation in it, and gaining a foothold in the business. Only after that is it worth expanding the offer. On the other hand, if you plan to work in one direction only, you run the risk of facing a high level of competition.
Clients prefer to apply for one service to companies that already have experience in solving such issues and a good business reputation. From this point of view, a more advantageous plan would be to open a universal office. You can choose the usual popular directions:
- support of transactions of individuals and legal entities;
- support for individuals;
- work with debt obligations;
- judicial settlement of conflicts;
- tax consulting.
Experts recommend from the moment of start to engage in legal services for legal entities. There are fewer competitors in this area, which will allow you to quickly occupy a niche. The plan should include the following areas of activity:
- problems with the tax office;
- inheritance issues.
They account for about half of all practice related to legal entities.
The least competition is also found in new areas of jurisprudence. For example, by starting to deal with e-commerce issues, you can quickly build up a customer base, since today there are not many firms dealing with such issues.
Find out what legal companies are already in your city, what services they provide. Try not to qualify for an already occupied niche. The most winning plan in any business is to excel.
The target audience
The easiest way to do business is when you choose one target group and focus on working with it. In the future, the target audience can be expanded.
Target groups for legal business are as follows:
- Private clients: men and women aged 25-50 years with an income above average and with higher or secondary specialized education.
- Small companies that need services periodically for a short time.
- Medium-sized firms and representatives of large companies – usually seek advice on complex issues, for which they do not need a full-time lawyer.
- Foreign companies wishing to establish a representative office in Russia.
- Representatives of specific business areas – they need help at the opening stage.
The main criterion by which clients choose a law firm is the quality of services. Only this will allow you to earn a reputation in the field and retain communicating clients. At the beginning of the activity, you can offer the provision of some services free of charge, for example, initial consultations, or discounts on services for the first or subsequent calls.
You can also win the favor of customers:
- provision of additional services;
- the ability to order services online;
- providing free consultations by phone.
At the same time, you do not lose anything, since it will not be possible to resolve issues without considering the documents, but during the first consultation, you can show awareness of the topic of the issue, and also appoint a meeting plan.
Statistics show that the most demanded legal services are:
- arbitration and court;
- consulting in the field of tax law;
- corporate law;
- support of equity transactions;
- consulting and support of transactions in the economic sphere;
- legal expertise;
- development of shareholder agreements;
- protection of borrowers’ rights to collection services;
- registration and liquidation of a business;
- support of bankruptcy declaration procedures.
It is not necessary to tackle all the popular directions from the very beginning, you can choose one or several of the most familiar to you, draw up a business plan and start making money on helping others in legal matters.
Statistics show that working with private clients helps to build a base and gain a business reputation. However, such appeals will be rather one-off, and besides that, private clients are rarely willing to spend large sums on legal services.
Aspiring entrepreneurs in terms of business should pay attention to one of the following areas of activity:
- providing advice to legal entities;
- assistance to companies in registration, obtaining permits and licenses to carry out activities, as well as in communicating with government agencies;
- subscriber services for legal entities on outsourcing – can include the widest range of services from registration of labor contracts to appealing the actions of official instances;
- providing individual services to private premium clients – we are not talking about ordinary individuals, but about serious business people who need the services of a highly qualified lawyer to work with confidential information.
However, you should not choose a business direction without researching the market. You need to do this constantly and adjust the plan. In reality, the range of services may change several times a year.
Step-by-step instructions for opening a law firm
To start a business, you need to draw up a detailed plan and follow it. It will look like this:
- Market analysis.
- Choice of specialization.
- Paperwork and business registration.
- Selection of premises and purchase of equipment.
- Conducting an advertising campaign and developing a corporate identity.
- Hiring staff for the legal business.
Advocacy in Russia is regulated by the Federal Law “On advocacy and the legal profession in the Russian Federation.” So, in order to provide notary services, you will need to obtain a special license. It is issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs only after passing a specialized exam.
All other areas of legal services can be provided without obtaining special permission.
The first point of the plan is business registration. Without this, it is impossible to start activities. The form of organization can be individual entrepreneur or LLC. The taxation system for this type of business is suitable for a simplified one with a 15% rate in the form of income-expenses.
To pass the state registration you will need:
- original and copy of the passport;
- receipt of payment of the duty;
- completed application form (can be downloaded on the website of the fiscal service).
If you plan to create an LLC, you will also need:
- articles of association;
- current account with authorized capital;
- minutes of the meeting with the decision on the establishment of the organization.
The required OKVED code for such a business is 74.1 “Activities in the field of law, services in the field of accounting and auditing. Consulting on the issues of commercial activity and enterprise management ”.
Premises and location
This type of activity does not imply a specific room or equipment, therefore, when choosing a room, be guided by compliance with standards and a convenient location. At the first stage, you can save on this point of the business plan by renting conference rooms or premises as needed and going out on your own to take calls.
If you still want to rent a permanent office, its area should be at least 10 m 2 – depending on the plan in terms of scale and services provided. It is possible to open an office in the center and pay more rent, but this will attract business clients by its proximity to the main government offices. Otherwise, think over the plan taking into account the location in the sleeping area. This will save on rental costs, but it will be less convenient for clients located on the other side of the city.
Equipment and inventory
No specific interior items or special equipment is required to open a legal business. You will need to buy:
- furniture for 2-3 employees – tables, chairs, wardrobes, cabinets and shelves for storing documents;
- furniture for clients – benches, chairs, clothes hangers;
- computers with installed software and all programs necessary for work;
- router for wireless Internet connection;
- professional literature – reference books, textbooks, legal encyclopedias;
- multifunctional device, including a scanner, printer and copier;
From a financial point of view, it is better to draw up a plan for the provision of legal services if you yourself can work for the company. In addition, clients will come to the newly created business, which the owner has gained during the individual practice. You also need to have organizational skills. You can open a business with a partner, in which case everyone’s expenses will be reduced.
Also, for a business, you will need to hire 2-3 general lawyers. Or 1 lawyer for working with legal entities and 1 specialist for servicing private clients, as well as a consultant. They don’t need to be in the office all the time. It doesn’t hurt to hire a legal assistant as well – he can be a student and work part-time. A secretary will be needed when the number of orders increases – someone will need to receive calls, draw up work schedules.
Choose qualified lawyers, but you do not need to hire experienced staff – they will need to pay high salaries. But for the high-quality implementation of the plan, there must be at least one well-known lawyer on the staff.
As for the accountant and the cleaning lady, outsourced specialists can be hired. Make a plan for their work so that constant presence in the office is not required. This will be enough at the beginning of the activity, and the cost plan will not be too impressive.
Where and how to look for clients
Pay enough attention to such an item of the business plan as advertising. Its goal is to make the business recognizable and to outline a list of benefits for customers.
Since the Internet is now the most popular and mass medium of communication, you should not neglect it to advertise your business. Create a beautiful website that presents the company and tells about the services provided. Don’t forget to contact you via email or online chat.
Create and print business cards. It will be enough to indicate basic information about the business – the range of services and contact information. It will be possible to distribute them to your clients, as well as in all relevant places – courts, companies, etc., where employees will travel to resolve various issues.
A less effective way to advertise such a business is through flyers. They should be distributed near courts, police stations, tax offices, etc. Advertise in local media. Good results are obtained by cooperation with law enforcement agencies and various instances where private and legal entities apply.
The greatest attention should be paid to the search for legal entities as clients. To do this, think over a profitable subscription service offer, make cold calls to organizations, conduct training, and seminars on legal literacy for organizations.
Advertising will be a necessary item in the business plan only in the first year or two of work, in the future, if you recommend yourself correctly, customers will be attracted to your reputation. Make a plan for an advertising campaign, it should not be scattered. You can not use all channels at the same time, but put them in the plan one after the other and experimentally check which of the methods brought more income.
Drawing up a financial business plan is practically the most important part of a project. After all, a business is started for the sake of profit, and the plan will first show how the funds are distributed, how much is needed to open and how soon the business can pay off.
How much does it cost to open a law firm
The amount of investment in starting a business consists of:
- paperwork – 10,000 rubles;
- purchases of equipment and furniture – 100 thousand rubles;
- advertising company, including website creation and brand formation – 45 thousand rubles;
- rent of an office with a pledge – 25 thousand rubles.
You will also have to spend money on running the business on a monthly basis. The preliminary plan costs are:
- payroll fund – 120 thousand rubles;
- rental of premises – 10,000 rubles;
- stationery – 3000 rubles;
- advertising – 5000 rubles;
- insurance and tax deductions – 25 thousand rubles;
- transportation costs – 5 thousand rubles;
- depreciation of equipment – 3 thous.
Total: 171 thousand rubles.
This indicator of the plan is calculated most tentatively since it is difficult to predict what the demand for the services offered will be.
Suppose that the organization will serve 20 clients monthly, with the average cost of servicing one client – 15,000 rubles. This will allow you to get 300 thousand rubles. income per month.
The market average cost of services for such a business:
- consultation – 1500 rubles;
- assistance in registering an individual entrepreneur or LLC – 5-10 thousand rubles;
- written consultation – 1000 rubles;
- representation of interests in court – 10,000 rubles. for one meeting;
- subscription service – 15 thousand rubles / month;
- drafting contracts, claims, etc. – from 1000 r.
Risks and payback
Despite the high level of monthly income compared to the investment, the payback plan may not be achieved so quickly. This is associated with certain risks of this type of business:
- unqualified workforce – if you hire lawyers who do their job poorly, it can scare off clients;
- seasonality of business – according to statistics, the fulfillment of the plan in the summer months is 30% lower than in other periods, which is associated with the holidays of the majority of Russians and the unwillingness to deal with legal issues at this time;
- high competition – often companies have to literally fight for customers, firms with the highest quality of services usually win, cost here is a secondary factor;
- constant changes in legislation, your employees must follow the changes in the laws and be theoretically grounded in all the necessary issues.
Opening a law firm is not an easy task that requires constant work and development. This is not an option when a well-written plan will allow the company to work without your intervention. If you are serious about business and offer clients high-quality services, there is a chance to get a good income and expand your business in the future.