Opening your own law firm means taking the step towards becoming a business owner, in addition to being a lawyer. Being self-employed is very different from being an employee, as you would have many more considerations compared to when you were just earning a monthly pay check. The prospect of helming your own company while doing what you love is enticing, but it can also be very challenging if you are not well-prepared. To help you along, here is a basic list of vendors that you would need to get your law firm off the ground.
For businesses today, having the right technology is always a must. A fully-functioning office should have the necessary equipment for the company’s staff to perform their duties efficiently and effectively. Computers, scanners, printers and other office technology greatly assist us in our everyday duties, and are even more important in a law firm, where documents are a staple. When deciding on the type of computer systems to buy, it’s important to assess each task that is performed at the premises from start to finish. That way, you would be able to tell which computer system meets your requirements perfectly. If you are unsure about the type of computer system to select, get in touch with several IT consultants for advice and quotations. With this information in hand, you can decide whether to lease or purchase the equipment. If you decide to go with purchasing the equipment, keep in mind that office technology has a lifespan and requires repairs or replacements after a number of years in use. Therefore, it’s important that you negotiate a fair and cost-effective deal to maintain a healthy company budget to tide you and your firm through in the long term. Also remember to ask about the accompanying virus protection for computers, as well as after-sales services.
Office Suite software
Apart from computer systems and other necessary hardware, you would also need to think about the business software for the firm. As with many other law firms, almost all business processes are carried out with the assistance of various office software. For your documentation and presentation purposes, there are a variety of Office Suite software that offer word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software bundled into a single package. Some software even offers the option to access and edit documents online, as well as substantial cloud storage space. In the case of Office Suite software, it’s always safer to go with a common brand as it would save you the trouble of thinking about compatibility issues. Just be sure to compare prices and double check licencing requirements before deciding on one.
Case management software
Ideally, the case management software that you select for your law firm should be intuitive and allows you to focus on the creative, problem-solving aspects of your work. It should cover tasks such as time tracking, invoicing, trust fund management, case management, client management, as well as payments, among other things. There will be times when you would be required to meet clients outside of the office so it helps if you choose a cloud-based case management software, allowing you to securely manage your practice regardless of location or device. Also consider whether the software is user-friendly and easily integrated with other legal products and services. Part of installing new software involves having to train the users on how to use it effectively, so it helps if minimum training is required to use the software.
Email and telecommunication devices
Of course, it’s important not to forget telecommunication devices as well as email systems for business purposes. For email software, you can either opt for proprietary software such as Microsoft’s Outlook – which will incur licensing fees – or go with standard freeware such as Gmail. Remember that with licenced software, there is a need to provide at least some form of training for you and your staff members on how to use the software, so be sure to allocate a portion of the office technology budget for this. Don’t forget to also survey options for internet service providers. Internet service packages usually come with options for telecommunication services as well, and there are many service providers that offer various packages to suit your company budget and data needs. It’s best to carry out your own research and clarify the package details with the service provider before settling on one.
Payroll management software
Depending on the number of staff you have, you can either decide to outsource your payroll services, or purchase a payroll software for in-house use. The former is popular with both small and large law firms as it removes the need to hire staff specifically for managing payroll. However, if you prefer to be hands on and are more comfortable keeping a close eye on payroll issues, consider investing in payroll software for in-house use. As with any new software, your staff will have to be trained to use it. It’s good to sit in during the training sessions so that you are aware of its functions, in case there are discrepancies in the monthly payroll which require your attention.
It’s easy to overlook office supplies when you’re busy managing other aspects of your practice, but this task should be fairly straightforward for every business. Start by determining your office supply needs, taking into consideration the basics such as items for filing and mailing, as well as stationery and paper supplies. As this is a law firm, you would need legal supplies such as legal seals and litigation tab dividers, as well as plenty of files to place case documentation. Be sure to research and compare various suppliers, taking into account the payment options that are offered. You could also ask your colleagues for references on good suppliers.
Some of the basic considerations for a law firm when it comes to furniture include colour schemes, fabrics, sizes and of course, prices. When deciding on the furniture for your law firm, remember to consider all areas of the office including private offices, meeting or conference rooms, staff workstations, filing and storage rooms, the reception or waiting area, as well as the pantry or lunch room. The services of an interior decorator can really help when coordinating furniture with the office surroundings. Done well, a beautifully furnished office can really brighten up your workday. Of course, be sure to include furniture specific to law firms such as lockable filing cabinets and other storage spaces, as well as fireproof safes. It’s also important to consider other miscellaneous furnishings such as coat racks, décor and kitchen appliances for the comfort of your staff.
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