Book review of ‘How to Start a Law Firm’

 In Book Reviews for Private Client practitioners

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by Darren J Sylvester and Rachel Roche published by The Law Society  |  ISBN: 9781784461539

Purpose

LawSkills Book Reviews for private client practitionersThis book has been written by two brave practitioners who decided to ‘go it alone’: Darren Sylvester, who owns DJS Law Solicitors, which specialises in professional negligence and civil litigation; and Rachel Roche, who specialises in private client law and won the Law Society Sole Practitioner of the Year Award at the 2018 Excellence Awards, amongst many other awards.

Their stated purpose in writing the book is to provide the information and guidance necessary to set up and manage a legal practice. The emphasis is on practical advice based on real life activity. As the authors say, they set out to provide all the guidance and advice they wish they’d had during the early days.

Content

The book starts with an eminently sensible question “Could you start a law firm?” It rightly explores whether the idea of starting your own business is in fact a daydream or whether you have the motivation and stamina to make it a reality. Being self-employed is not for everyone no matter how attractive being in charge of your working life might appear.

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From this start the book moves through 16 chapters including how to choose the right business structure for your practice; the first steps you need to take in your journey; how you will fund the firm in the beginning with tips on how to keep your costs down; it asks the currently pertinent question: Do you need premises? As more and more of us work from home; then it moves onto the vital areas of marketing – your brand and how you find clients and keep them.

Any business will only survive if it has suitable systems and processes and there is a chapter dedicated to that topic. Later chapters tackle management topics such as managing the firm’s finances, making technology work for you and employing staff.

One of the reasons you may be contemplating setting up your own business is because you want to improve your wellbeing and work/life balance. There is an interesting chapter on this topic encouraging you to work smarter not harder with a team of outsourced experts.

If all goes well, you will be interested in the chapters on Growth and Expansion and Exit Strategy – something which can be challenging. Finally, there is a pertinent chapter on Covid 19 – the ultimate disaster recovery test.

Structure & Layout

Each chapter starts with a pithy paragraph or two about the content of the chapter and ends with a case study. In between the format aids reading and discovery by being broken up into numbered paragraphs with relevant headings.

Tools

The book itself is a series of tools arising out of the experiences of the authors – what they did and what they wished they had done. It spells out lessons learnt not just by them but by all the people who provided a case study. Whilst everyone’s experience will be different by utilising a range of case studies the reader gains a wider flavour of what has worked and what has not.

Clarity & readability

The authors are to be commended for keeping the book succinct, sharp and on target to meet their purpose. It is easy to dip into chapters and to use the tips to set your own goals and build your own plan to get started.

Relevance to practitioners

Given that many practitioners have been working from home and experiencing a different way of working during the pandemic or have sadly lost their jobs, this book is timely and highly relevant to those contemplating working differently in future. It explores not just the myriad issues of setting up a law practice but also considers the new opportunity afforded by the creation of ‘freelance solicitors’.

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