1. Obtain malpractice insurance – As a new lawyer, your budget is likely tight. Malpractice insurance can be yet an additional expense to your limited pool of resources. However, it is one of the best investments you can make. When you first begin your practice you know the least about the law, both substantively and procedurally. You are at the highest risk of committing an inadvertent error. You can put your mind at ease, taking on new clients and cases by knowing that your insurance policy protects you in the event of a mishap.

The ISBA Mutual assists new lawyers by offering special discounts to members of the Bar who have been licensed less than three years. Call (800)473-4722 or visit www.isbamutual.com to obtain a quote.

2. Co-counsel with more experienced practitioners. – Once you have obtained your degree, passed the bar, and read more case law than your heart desires, you will likely soon realize that few of those things adequately prepare you for the nuances of the courtroom. Gain practical experience and valuable insights through those who are familiar with the ins and outs of the practice area that piques your interest. Make inquiries with practitioners with who you’ve developed a working relationship with and begin to increase your practical knowledge in a specific area of law.

3. Make it easy for potential clients to contact you. – So many solos are focused on marketing, but very few step in to the shoes of the consumer. If potential clients have to jump through several hoops to figure out how to reach you, they will likely give up or talk to someone else. Make it easy for anyone who wants to get in touch to be able to do so.

This does not mean that you have to give out your cell phone number, but there should be a phone number that client’s can call and reach a live human being during business hours. Moreover, all calls should be returned within twenty-four hours.

If you have a website, be sure that your contact information is readily available; at a minimum your phone number and e-mail address should be displayed on all pages. Social media pages are also great mechanisms of communication because these informal channels are less intimidating than a phone call or e-mail, increasing the likelihood a prospective client makes initial contact. You can then put the lead in contact with your office and schedule an appointment.

4. Systemize your workflow. – Good lawyers don’t reinvent the wheel. They take extra time to craft something well on the front end and then organize all of their work into manageable systems. You should develop customizable templates and clear workflows that you and your staff can follow. Developing systematized processes for reoccurring tasks is the key to efficiency, delivering a quality product, and obtaining effective results for your clients.

5. Craft a five-year plan. – It is easy to become ensconced in your work. As time goes by and you gain more traction in the industry, it becomes easy to become consumed in your daily work. Make sure that you are in control of your calendar and your calendar is not in control of you. As you go through each day, keep the big picture in mind. Think of where you would like to be, how what you are doing today leads to that end, and how you define success. Envision your future and make daily, weekly, and monthly goals to keep yourself on track.

Marie Sarantakis is the Principal Attorney of Sarantakis Law Group, Ltd. Ms. Sarantakis concentrates her practice in family law. In addition to her work in the courtroom, she is versed in alternative methods of dispute resolution as a mediator and Fellow of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois. She was recently recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star, named as one of the Top 10 Family Law Attorneys Under 40 in Illinois by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and featured as a Fellow of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. 

Ms. Sarantakis is active in the legal community and serves as Chair of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Children & the Law Committee, an elected Assembly member and Young Lawyers Division Member of the Illinois State Bar Association, and on the Board of Governors of the West Suburban Bar Association. She also serves as a Young Professionals Board Member of Illinois Legal Aid Online and as an Associate Board Member of the Lawyers Assistance Program of Illinois.

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