online-resources

Website

More Resources:

Have You Done an Ethics Check on Your Firm Website? by Raven Sarnoff, published on Legal by the Bay

business-structure

Business Structure

More Resources

“Choice of Entity” by George Cabot
cclawyer.cccba.org/2012/07/choice-of-entity
Via Contra Costa Lawyer

This article discusses the selection of the form of entity under which to practice law is different depending on whether the lawyer is a solo practitioner or in partnership with other lawyers.

budget

Bill Collection

  • Collection Tips money

    A number of different lawyers cautioned me upon hearing I was hanging out my shingle saying, “Be sure you get paid. Many people want a lawyer; fewer want to pay for one.” Most solos/small firm lawyers (as well as big firm lawyers) have horror stories about getting stiffed on the bill, and I think writing off …more

  • Accepting Credit Cards with LawPay credit-card-1

    Consider accepting credit cards. The vast majority of my clients prefer to pay via credit card. LawPay is my credit card provider and I am very happy with them.  LawPay takes a percentage of each charge and also charges a flat monthly fee. LawPay permits clients to pay via credit card into either a trust account or …more

  • Accepting Credit Cards with Square credit-card-2

    Another good credit card processing company is Square, which does not charge a monthly fee and takes around 3 percent of each charge.  (The exact processing fee depends on how the transaction is processed, e.g., whether credit card is swiped or the number is manually entered.)  Square has a referral program that awards free processing …more

More Resources

“Getting Paid” by Luis M. Montes
cclawyer.cccba.org/2012/07/getting-paid
Via Contra Costa Lawyer

Lawyers, like most business people, often have difficulty getting paid for the professional services they have rendered.

“Accepting Credit Cards” by Gary Dubrovsky
cclawyer.cccba.org/2012/07/accepting-credit-cards
Via Contra Costa Lawyer

This article address the ins and outs of credit card transactions, IOLTA accounts and fees charged by banks, and the professional services they have rendered.

human-resources

Human Resources

  • Podcast #105: How Small Firms Can Promote Diversity, with Heather Hackman oklqgsct8qs-matt-botsford

    Via Lawyerist.com In this episode, Dr. Heather Hackman helps us get a new perspective on diversity and the legal profession. She also explains why “doing diversity” doesn’t work, and what small firms actually need to do to increase diversity in the legal profession. This may be a challenging podcast for some, but it will reward those …more

  • How to Interview and Identify Administrative Help hiring

    Finding administrative help for a solo practice or small law firm can be challenging – below are some sample interview questions that can help you identify individuals that have administrative experience in a legal setting. A good place to post a local opening is the SFSU Paralegal job board. The listing is free. https://cel.sfsu.edu/paralegal/jobs   …more

  • Forensic Specialists, Appraisers, and Expert Witnesses expert

    Forensic/Metadata specialist: Dean Vanech at Podo Legal. www.podolegal.com Lynell Phillips, Phillips Computer Forensics. www.phillipscomputerforensics.com Townsend Carden and Rose, Silicon Valley Digital Forensics. www.townsendcardenrose.com/ Forensic Accountant:Hemming Morse. www.hemming.com. I highly recommend Steven Boyles. Excellent witness, as well, if you end up needing it. Real Property Appraisers: Shields Advisory Services, Laura Shields, MAI. www.ShieldsAdvisory.com

  • Courier Services messenger

    Western Messenger. www.westernmessenger.com We have used Western Messenger for years.  They always come through for me (even in the old ‘rush to the courthouse for filing deadline’ days). Western Messenger Service is good and less expensive than most. They have delivered (and retrieved) boxes of documents in East Bay for me.

  • Contract or Virtual Administrative Assistance assistant

    ASAP Legal Services LLC – San Francisco-based (not to be confused with the process serving company of the same name).  www.legalserviceasap.com

  • Policies paperwork

    Sole practitioners should have a policy manual in place before hiring an independent contractor, employee or intern. It may be a good idea to reach out to a more senior attorney and ask to use his or her policy manual as an exemplar.  In his book How to Start and Build a Law Practice, Jay …more

  • Virtual Assistants virtual-assistant

    I have looked into hiring a virtual assistant. I will likely do so in lieu of hiring an administrative assistant/legal secretary.  Depending on your practice, a virtual assistant could be a great solution for a solo attorney spending too much time on administrative matters but lacking the resources and/or space for a physically present administrative …more

  • Contract Workers hiring

    When things get busy enough to require additional help with legal work, a sole practitioner may wish to hire a contract attorney rather than a full-time associate. This will give the sole practitioner a chance to get to know the contract attorney and become familiar with his or her work.  If a good fit, the …more

  • Employees working

    While I have not yet hired any employees, I believe a sole practitioner’s first hire should be an administrative assistant – whether traditional or virtual. With everything a sole practitioner needs to attend to – printing, scanning, mailing, and other administrative tasks – should be delegated to an administrative assistant. The more these tasks are …more

More Resources:

The Problem with Unpaid Interns by Sonya Smallets , published on Legal by the Bay
Are Your Employment Policies Up To Date? by Rose-Ellen Fairgrieve, published on Legal by the Bay

budget

Finance and Budget

  • Profit/ Loss budget

    I strongly recommend coming up with at least a one year budget before moving forward with your law practice. I did my first budget in QuickBooks 2013, but subsequently created a separate budget in Microsoft Excel.  I actually prefer working with the Excel budget even though it probably makes more sense to keep all financial data together …more

  • Bank Accounts accounting

    Yes.  Accounts, plural.  Law practices, even start-up solo practices, are separate legal entities.  Law practices should have at least two bank accounts.  In addition, lawyers have personal accounts, which are separate from the law practice accounts. The firm’s bank accounts: A business operating account for the practice income (e.g., collected fees for services rendered) and expenses (e.g., rent, salary, …more

  • Trust Account bank

    I opened my trust account at the same time I opened my business operating account. According to the State Bar of California: “[l]awyers who handle small amounts of money for their clients, or money that is held for a short period of time, must . . . deposit[] these funds into an Interest on Lawyers’ …more

More Resources:

IOLTA Basics: What You Need to Know by Dan Duran and Lorrie Pendleton, published on Legal by the Bay
Finances & Profitability: Must-Read Resources at the San Francisco Law Library, posted on Legal by the Bay, July 18, 2016

technology

Technology

Hardware

  • IT and Computer Support Recommendations brand new computer with tft monitor in modern classroom at school

    The following individuals and companies were recommended on the solo/small firm listserv: Michael Heylin Heylin Consulting Group PC technology consulting for small businesses, from selection and installation to troubleshooting expertise. 584 Castro Street #471 San Francisco, CA 94114-2512 415-554-0524 or 415-531-4656 Tech Collective www.techcollective.com

  • Postage stamps

    Stamps.com.  Free meter. Free software. Small monthly fee.  www.stamps.com

  • ScanSnap Scanner scanner

    I can say enough how much I love my ScanSnap scanner (Fujitsu).  I wish I hadn’t waited to get one, it saves so much time. I got a smaller one for home too for the time I work from home.  It works seamlessly with the Mac – I’ve had zero problems with it.

  • Identifying and Setting up Business Systems workspace

    I recommend Alfonso Hooker with TekPerfect. His company works with a lot of law firms and he’s particularly attuned to their needs.”  www.tekperfect.com.

  • Flatbed Scanner scanner

    I have to say that I am very happy my with HP Officejet Pro X576dw.  It has a flatbed scanner-copier, color and black and white, with multiple options of all kinds, as well as an autofeed.  It is better than the large industrial size one I used in my last office share.  I think I …more

  • Beware of Cheap Toner color

    Toner is crazy expensive.  And beware of cheap toner!  I bought second-rate toner on Amazon, for a quarter of the price of OEM toner.  Sure enough, my printer wouldn’t recognize that the replacement toner cartridge was full.  Also, it leaked yellow toner everywhere.  I wound up buying the expensive name-brand toner.

  • All-in-One Printer print

    To start, I used a small but sturdy Brother all-in-one for my printer/copier/scanner/fax and I recommend it. You save a lot of money (and space) from avoiding a big industrial copier (though there are times when I need to take larger jobs to FedEx Office), but the new Brothers can handle up to 50+ pages …more

  • Renting Computers and Hardware hardware

    My friend who opened up his own law firm told me how surprised he was at how cheap it is to rent the computers and the equipment from certain computer equipment rental companies.  At the end of the lease, you have the option of buying the equipment that you have been leasing.

More Resources:

Law Office Software by Aaron R. Feldman
cclawyer.cccba.org/2012/07/law-office-software
Via Contra Costa Lawyer

Assessing the pros and cons of the myriad law office software available out there is like taking a trip down a rabbit hole. There are a multitude of products from which to choose.

The process of sifting through them is daunting, overwhelming and sometimes even exhilarating. It is hard not to be seduced by features that seem great, but which you may ultimately never use.
The key is to look around at the options and at the same time look at your practice and your overhead to determine what products are the best fit for your office. Read more...

Software

  • Law Practice Management Software office-2

    Law practice management [LPM] software is often cloud based which can be a good fit for a mobile office.  Most tend to offer a variety of functions that integrate with each other, including contact management, calendar, task lists, matter/engagement management, time sheets, time capture, billing/invoicing, and more. You can associate (upload) key documents and communications (emails) with …more

  • Clio as a Law Practice Management Tool coding

    I chose Clio after having heard stellar reviews from two fellow solos. Clio is SaaS, so there is never a need to update and it is available on any device with an Internet connection. Clio makes timekeeping and invoicing very easy, integrates with Microsoft Outlook, and includes lots of very useful features. And, it is …more

  • Calendaring with Deadlines.com calendaring

    Deadlines.com is a web-based litigation calendaring program. You put in the dates of events (e.g., service of the complaint), and it will return the dates of triggered deadlines (e.g., date to respond to the complaint).  You can then sync (or upload for Mac) the dates into your calendar program. It’s only $20 per case per …more

  • Automatic Time Capture Software time

    There is a type of software that runs in the background and captures data on the time you spend in each application, generally specifying time spent in each document, on each webpage, etc.  There are many, many such programs, with a host of different functionalities.  Some integrate with LPM software as a way to bill …more

  • Sales and Marketing Software project-manage

    If you are thinking of hiring someone to handle your law office’s marketing and client relations, consider Infusionsoft first.  You can use this powerful sales and marketing automation software to automate communications with clients and potential clients, create automated email “drip” campaigns based on practice area, attract potential clients with free reports, and streamline routine …more

  • iPad Apps for Legal Research finances

    There are at least a couple low cost or no cost apps that are available for legal research.  One that I have used that works well is Fastcase. The app is free and you can also sign up without being charged a fee.  But if you want to add more than the most basic features, …more

  • Moving to the Cloud cloud

    I am in the process of moving all my software and data to a virtual server, which would mean that all my applications and data would run off a server in the cloud.  I like this solution because my data will not reside on a single PC or server and I would not need to …more

  • PDF Solutions paperwork

    Adobe Pro is well worth the investment.  Besides Bates numbering, it also provides advanced redaction features.”  https://acrobat.adobe.com/us/en/products/acrobat-pro.html An alternative that has been recommended on the Solo/Small Firm listserv is Foxit, a PDF editing program similar to Adobe.  Foxit PhantomPDF Business.  www.foxitsoftware.com   

  • Malware and Virus Protection insurance-2

    “I use Webroot and am very satisfied with its cost and performance. (www.webroot.com/us/en/business)  Before deciding on Webroot, I also considered similar products by Kaspersky, and Emsisoft, which are also very good.

  • Postage stamps

    Stamps.com.  Free meter. Free software. Small monthly fee.  www.stamps.com

More Resources:

Office Systems by Matthew M. Hart
cclawyer.cccba.org/2012/07/office-systems
Via Contra Costa Lawyer

This article touches on recommendations for phone systems: cell, land line, answering machines, as well as furniture, copiers, etc.  Read more...

 

office-space

Office Space

Leased Office Space

  • Downtown Convenience downtown

    Downtown locations (San Francisco or other cities) offer walking-distance access to a host of services. From my building at Bush and Montgomery, I can walk in just a few minutes to a branch of any bank, to UPS, USPS, or Fedex/Kinkos, to Staples, shoe repair, dry cleaners, restaurants, bars, gyms, transit, etc. This is not …more

  • Office Leasing Reality Check: Tips for Negotiating Your Small Law Firm’s Lease in a Landlord’s Market office-2

    An office lease is a pivotal tool for small law firms to attract better clients and expand their practices. But it is also frequently the largest fixed capital expense and longest commitment of a small firm. Negotiating favorable lease terms is critical to ensure a lease contributes to, and does not hamper, a firm’s success. …more

Work from Home

  • Where to Meet? working

    For someone with dedicated space in their apartment or house (and who is not easily distracted), working from home could be an option.  However, rentable space should be available somewhere nearby (i.e., outside the home) to meet with clients.

Virtual Office

  • Pros and Cons of a Virtual Office city

    Pro: Less expensive Con: Less control over atmosphere and location I considered using a virtual office (and I still consider adding a virtual office in a second location), but after walking through many of them, I decided they weren’t going to be as available/accessible to many of my clients. I’m an immigration and bankruptcy lawyer, …more

Shared Space

  • Working in a Co-Working Setting coworking

    I began by renting workstation space in a shared office suite with a company called Intelligent Office. Their service is outstanding and includes live receptionist service with a personalized firm/company greeting, mailbox service, conference rooms and offices rentable by the hour, and a shared copy/printer/scanner. The workstation arrangement worked out fine for the first couple of months. …more

  • Sharing Resources office

    Getting a sublet to rent an office in a suite of lawyers and/or other professionals is an attractive option.  Such an arrangement can come quite bare-bones, or with a full range of amenities. Such arrangements commonly include a shared reception area, kitchen area and copier. Many also include a shared receptionist, and a conference room …more

  • Ethical Issues and Liability Risks of Shared Space solo-workspace

    A number of companies (such as ServCorp, Regus, and WeWork) offer options ranging from occasional access to co-working spaces to leases on private offices within shared suites, typically with several hours’ use of a conference room per month included and the ability to rent conferences rooms and private offices at an additional charge.  These company’s …more

  • Renting Meeting Space from BASF clients

    Looking for a place to hold a client meeting or mediation? BASF offers meeting space to accommodate large and small gatherings. Our meeting rooms can accommodate from two to 26 people and are available by the hour or day. Located in the heart of the financial district at 301 Battery Street, between Sacramento and Clay …more

  • The Space Bar at The Bar Association of San Francisco lounge-2

    The Space Bar is a converted conference room/quasi-office/lounge available to our Section members at BASF world headquarters.  It is quiet yet not monastic, and offers a printer, beverages, snacks, and occasional collegiality.

More Resources:

Some Considerations for Sharing Office Space
www.sfbar.org/forms/sfam/q12010/sharing-office-space
Via San Francisco Attorney magazine

In today’s rough and tumble times, a solution for the headaches related to expensive rents for office space can often be mitigated by sharing office space with another business. However, before you consent to signing your name on a lease agreement, there are several considerations that deserve your attention. Read more…

insurance

Insurance

General Commercial Liability

  • General Commercial Liability (GCL) insurance

    General Commercial Liability insurance (GCL) is cheap for lawyers, and will be required by many or most leases or subleases, anyway. I think a million dollars or more of coverage can be purchased for something like $500 per year. If you are ever going to have clients or anyone else come to your office, it’s a …more

Malpractice Insurance

  • Malpractice Insurance: The Strong Start Program insurance-2

    I originally looked into getting LPL with Marsh. Ultimately, I found a great plan with theLawyers’ Mutual Insurance Company (LMIC) called the Strong Start Program. For a $300,000 annual aggregate/$100,000 per claim plan, LMIC offers a first-year rate of $500 per year for attorneys licensed for three years or less who meet specific criteria. The minimum …more

  • LPL for Solos/ Small Firm Practitioners from AHERN insurance-1

    Ahern Insurance (a partner of BASF) offers LPL to solos/smalls for reasonable rates, but it’s still thousands per year. LPL insurance is more or less important depending upon whether you have assets that you want to protect.  LPL protects you, and it can also be seen as a way that you are protecting your clients …more

  • Insurance Discounts through BASF accounting

    The Bar Association of San Francisco has relationships with certain brokers to provide insurance to its members, often at a discount.  Learn more here. Keep in mind that if you do not have professional liability insurance, you must inform your clients of that fact for any matter in which it is reasonably foreseeable that you will …more

Health Insurance

  • Choosing Health Insurance health

    Kaiser Permanente offers a wide range of individual health plans, depending upon your needs. I am a relatively low consumer of health services, so I chose a high-deductible, high-copay plan that has relatively low premiums. I pay around $250/month, which includes dental. I also chose the Health Savings Account option, so I can save and …more

  • The Affordable Care Act health-1

    Firms with fewer than 50 full-time (or full-time equivalent) employees are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate – meaning they are not subject to penalties under the ACA for not offering employees health insurance.  Nonetheless, small firms should become familiar with other key provisions of the ACA, such as the Small Business Tax …more

  • Health Insurance Tips from BASF insurance

    As a sole practitioner or small law firm, there are a number of important areas to consider while evaluating the most appropriate health insurance options for you, your employees and their families. Below are five important items to consider as you begin to evaluate your options: Begin shopping for insurance at least 30-60 days prior to needing …more

Workers’ Compensation

  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance Tips from BASF hiring

    California employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance, even if you have only one employee. This is true even if that employee is a family member! If your employees get hurt or sick because of work, you are required to pay for workers’ compensation benefits. The benefits include: Medical care Temporary disability benefits …more

accounting

Accounting

  • Talk to Accountants finances

    Before you make an accounting decision, talk to some bookkeepers. I recommend using QuickBooks [from Intuit].  (If you work with a bookkeeper from the outset, you may not need to buy your own software.) Assuming everything goes well, you are going to want to be able to hand off the accounting for your business (as well …more

  • Quickbooks in the Cloud cloud

    A friend who just started his own practice definitely recommended QuickBooks, and suggested getting a subscription to the cloud- based software.  (If you’ve been using the desktop version of QuickBooks, your data can easily be exported to the cloud-based software.) Prices for the cloud-based software range from about $10.00 per month to $40.00 per month, depending …more

  • Quickbooks: Integration with Clio money

    QuickBooks is definitely the way to go. If you plan on using Clio as law practice management software, you may want to get the desktop version of QuickBooks. Clio appears to integrate better with the desktop version of QuickBooks than with the cloud-based, SaaS version.  (See also the section of this Toolkit on Technology for …more

  • Saving Time with Freshbooks saving

    We have used FreshBooks for all our timekeeping and invoicing for about two years. It is cloud based and allows our in-house contract-based timekeepers to enter time daily. Our contractors also use FreshBooks to invoice us, so everything is in one place. FreshBooks is a huge timesaver for us.

  • More on Quickbooks budget

    For accounting I used QuickBooks online and sync it with Clio, a client management software program. QuickBooks is great if you need to keep track of client expenses, and accountants/CPAs all know QuickBooks which is an advantage over lesser-known accounting software.   Note, however, that if you already have a bookkeeper or accountant/CPA, check with …more

More Resources:

online-resources

Online Resources

BASF’s Solo and Small Firm Resource Center

BASF has put together an online Solo and Small Firm Resource Center for attorneys
who need information, resources and tips vital to running a successful practice.

Membership is required to access.

Blogs

There are so many good “blawgs,” many of which are addressed at issues other than case law development.  We recommend looking at lists of “Top Blawgs” and finding ones that suit your practice, then creating a news reader feed so you can check periodically and quickly on recent postings for ones relevant to your needs.

Small Law Firms Blog
westlawinsider.com/category/small-law-firms

Hot topics, events and more for solo and small firm attorneys.

Lawyerist
lawyerist.com

A great resource for being on top of trends in law practice, but it has an entire page dedicated to “Starting a Law Firm” as well as one on “Practice Management.  Check the website regularly for tips and tricks from billing to formatting briefs.

My Shingle
myshingle.com

Inspiring solo and small firm lawyers and those who want to be.

Solo and Small Firms
www.abajournal.com/blawgs/topic/solossmall+firms

American Bar Association offers a large number of blogs and resources for attorneys
who are solo or employed in small law firms.

iPhonejd
iphonejd.com

A great resource for using your iphone with the law practice.

Podcasts

Podcasts for a wide range of law practice management topics (no charge):

https://lawyerist.com/podcast/

Listerv

Solo and small firm attorneys face everyday challenges that their counterparts at big
and medium sized firms do not. With that in mind, BASF has addressed this important
and growing group by creating a listserv for solo practitioners and small firms.

Membership is required to access.