Lessons from the Launch: What I Learned from Starting a Law Firm

Mark Conrad, Conrad & Metlitzky

photo-1427751840561-9852520f8ce8Last April, I took a professional leap of faith and launched a new civil litigation boutique. In a few short months, it has already proved to be the most personally rewarding decision of my career.

To claim “success” is premature – Conrad & Metlitzky is less than a year old, and we have a long list of things we aim to improve as we grow. But, with the hope of helping others who might benefit from the lessons of our initial triumphs and errors, here are a few observations distilled from the experience of our recent launch.

1. Surprise No One
Your new law firm should not be a secret. Start laying a foundation well before you ever send an announcement, and discuss your plans with friends, colleagues, and potential clients. Ask for templates and advice. Get others invested in your success. Once we launched our firm, we were delighted and gratified to find that the people we had approached for pre-launch guidance were among the first to send us business.

2. Eschew Perfection
Do not wait to launch until everything looks just right. It never will. The website can always be better; the financial forecast can be endlessly adjusted. Instead, focus on the essential services you want to provide. In the parlance of Silicon Valley, build a minimum viable product. Once you put yourself in a position to respond to that first client call, take the leap, and then build as you go.

3. Talk to Professionals
Litigation requires expertise; that is why businesses hire our firm to help them. Running a law firm, however, requires non-legal expertise, too. Do not do your accounting, marketing, and bookkeeping pro se. As much as your resources allow, hire the right people to teach and assist you, and you will gain the confidence, and free up the time, that you need to focus on your clients.

4. Take Advantage of BASF!
The bar association has been my professional home for many years, but never was it more important than during our first months as a fledgling firm. The Solo & Small Firm Section welcomed us with open arms. CLE programs gave us opportunities to speak to and meet with a cross-section of the legal community. BASF has great start-up resources, and anyone contemplating a shingle should start here first.

Mark Conrad is a trial attorney and a founding partner of Conrad & Metlitzky. A former Assistant United States Attorney, he specializes in complex civil litigation and has broad experience representing businesses and individuals at the trial and appellate levels in both state and federal courts. Conrad served as the President of the Barristers Club Board of Directors in 2014.