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Should I set up my own firm?

Most law firm launches are more akin to ‘spin-outs’ rather than higher-risk ‘start-ups’, with established partners building a new platform for their existing practices.

Having an experienced provider such as Kindleworth by your side on the journey can also make the whole project far less daunting and ensures the operational side is covered.

However, launching your own firm remains a considerable undertaking and it is important to take the time to consider whether it is the right thing for you.

While the founders we have worked with are very different, there are a number of attributes common to them all:

1.  Vision. As mentioned in a previous article, a strong vision of what you want to create and why it will be better for both your clients and your team than the status quo is critical. Others can help you stress-test and refine this vision, but it has to be yours. This vision is what will help you stay the course if the going gets tough. Push factors alone – dissatisfaction with your current role – are not enough.

2.  Clients. If this one isn’t obvious, stop now! You will have a strong base of loyal clients and / or a robust network of referrers, a high profile in the market and should be good at (and enjoy) the process of winning new work. You must be confident work will follow you and that your new firm’s proposition will resonate with existing and potential clients. Launching with live matters is not always possible but can materially reduce the risk profile and cash requirements of the new venture.

3.  Grind. You need to be prepared to be ‘on the tools’ and heavily involved in the delivery of the work. Clients will want you and you won’t have the established brand and extensive resources of a large firm to sell. High-level ‘rainmakers’ can struggle unless they launch with a (client) trusted team around them. Most founders we support love the legal work, and the opportunity to spend more time doing it (as opposed to being in internal meetings) is a major appeal of going it alone.

4.  Leadership. You need to be able to inspire your team behind the vision and foster a positive, collaborative and productive culture. While your team and advisers such as Kindleworth can support decision making, ultimately the buck stops with you and you need to be able to make tough decisions. It is important to find the balance between bringing the team with you and actually making a decision (which may not please some members of the team). Ability to move swiftly can be a key competitive advantage for your new firm.

5.  Risk Appetite. Everything discussed earlier in this article can serve to significantly reduce the risk associated with the launch. However – in most cases – this remains a higher-risk, higher reward move compared with joining another large law firm. You will have to invest your own money – from savings and / or (if funded) via taking a reduced level of compensation for a period – and should ensure the lights can be kept on if payback takes a little longer than originally anticipated.

As part of our initial engagement, we help you consider all these factors and more, so that if you decide to proceed to launch your own firm you do so with full confidence that it is the right option for you. Even if your thinking is at an early stage, don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’re always happy to talk things through.

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