Solo in a Box Toolkit - Articles

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Posted by: Barry Kolar on Apr 16, 2014

A User-friendly Guide to Starting Your Own Law Practice

TBA Solo in a Box Toolkit

With each passing year, more and more Tennessee attorneys decide to “hang their own shingle” and begin their own solo or small firm practice.  We live in age where nearly infinite amounts of information are available – if you can find it. Too often, the most necessary piece of information is the proverbial needle amongst a trillion bytes of digital haystack.

2013-14 Tennessee Bar Association President Cindy Wyrick recognized the need to develop a single, user-friendly guide in which new solo and small firm attorneys could access useful information in one place. Her vision has resulted in this TBA Solo in a Box Toolkit. The information contained in the Toolkit was gathered from numerous existing TBA resources, as well as information and recommendations volunteered from successful solo/small firm attorneys across the state.

This is – and always should be – a document in process. If you have useful information you would like to add, please contact TBA staffer Christy Gibson.

And now, without further delay ... THE DISCLAIMER

The information in this package of materials includes information, procedures, and forms that are designed to assist the solo practitioner or small law firm in the management of a law practice. The material does not establish, report or create the standard of care for attorneys. The material is not a complete analysis of the topic, and readers should conduct their own appropriate research. The information provided here is not legal, accounting, or tax advice.


Table of Contents

I. The Business of Law

  • Step One – Find an Accountant
  • Which Business Entity to Use?
    • Sole Proprietorship
    • Partnership
    • Limited Partnership
    • Limited Liability Partnership
    • Professional Corporation
    • Limited Liability Company/Professional Limited Liability Partnership
  • Discussion
  • Ethical Issues in Business Entity Formation

II. Office Space

  • Home Office/Virtual Office
  • Commercial Lease
  • Shared Space
  • Ethical Issues in Office Space

III. Technology

  • Hardware
    • Computer
    • Printer
    • Copier
    • Tablet
    • Scanner
  • Software –
    • File Management
    • Billing/Timekeeping
    • Research
    • Backup/Cloud Storage
    • Ethical Issues in Technology
  • Email Tips
    • Outlook
    • General Email Management Tips
    • Email Procrastination
    • Four Essential Email Tips
  • Ethical Issues in Technology

IV. Insurance

  • Professional Liability (malpractice)
  • Other Insurance Products
  • TBA Member Insurance Solutions – Graham Swafford

V. Law Office Finance and Budgeting

  • General Tips
  • Credit Cards – LAWPAY
  • Ethical Issues in Finance/Accounting
  • Trust Accounting Guide
    • Receipts
    • Disbursements
    • Monthly Reconciliation

VI. Human Resources

a. Hiring
i. The Interview
ii. 14 Helpful Interview Questions
b. Supervision
c. Termination
d. Ethical Issues in Human Resources
VII. Marketing
a. Referrals from Existing/Previous Clients
b. Referrals from Friends and Family
c. Referrals from Other Attorneys
d. Everyone Else
e. Branding
f. Internet Presence
g. Advertising
h. Ethical Issues in Advertising
i. TnBar Management Services Marketing Practice Tips
VIII. The Practice of Law- Every Day Management of Your Law Practice
a. Case acceptance and client screening
i. Establishing Case Acceptance Guidelines
ii. Case and Client Screening
iii. Case Analysis
b. Establishing Realistic Expectations
c. Case Management
d. Client File Retention
e. Client Relations and Communications
i. But it’s an Emergency! Communicating with Clients
f. Conflict of Interest Systems
g. Tickler and Calendar Systems
i. File Tickler Systems
1. Tickler Systems in Case Management
2. Tickler Systems in Office and Personal Management
ii. Calendar Systems
h. Protecting your Practice in the Event of a Disaster
i. Planning
1. Safety
2. Business Continuity
3. Communication
4. Records
5. Office Space
ii. Disaster Recovery
1. Damage Assessment
2. Business Continuation
i. Succession Planning
j. Pro Bono Opportunities
ii. Legal Aid Organizations
1. West Tennessee
2. Middle Tennessee
3. East Tennessee
iii. Statewide Legal Aid & Advocacy Organizations
IX. Mentoring
a. Details About the TBA Mentoring Program
b. Qualifications to Participate as Mentee
c. Qualifications to Participate as Mentor
d. Mentee Application
X. Additional Resources
a. Resource Materials Available at TBA Lending Library
b. Other Recommended Materials/Books
c. Video Resources
i. TBA All Access Network
1. Going Solo
2. Practice Points
3. Professional Development
ii. Administrative Office of the Courts
d. TN Bar Management Services Practice Tips
XI. TennBarU CLE Opportunities
XII. Forms
a. Checklist for Opening a Law Office
b. Sample Engagement Letter
c. Sample Non-engagement Letter
d. Sample Fee Agreement
e. Sample Contingent Fee Agreement
f. Sample Closing Letter
g. Sample Guidelines for Developing File Retention and Destruction Policy