I was asked what I would recommend to someone starting law school in preparing to practice law.
The following is my recommendation:
You will need to learn about business – find an attorney who knows the BUSINESS of running a law firm and ask them to be your mentor. Ask them for one hour per month – they will give you a business book to read for that month and you will discuss the book and what you are learning about business.
Determine the area of law that you want to practice in – This really should be done before you enter law school for the ideal plan, but if not pick an area with your heart and not your head (You don’t need to do years of research and lots of internships to make this decision).
Determine what the problem is that you will be solving as an attorney (not in legal terms but in terms of the pain an rewards that clients see and feel).
Find one person each week (at least one person per month) who has that need, or has hired an attorney for that need. Interview that person and ask them what the attorney did well, or what they would want an attorney to accomplish for them, and ask them what did not go well, or what results they would not want. Keep notes, and keep in contact with those people. (NOTE: THAT YOU CAN COLD CALL PEOPLE AT THIS STAGE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT AN ATTORNEY AND YOU ARE NOT OFFERING THEM LEGAL SERVICES) Get permission to email and call them (Set up a CRM).
At the end of the second year you should have between 25 and 100 people that you have interviewed and you should have a good idea about what problems they have, what needs attorneys are meeting and what needs they are not meeting well.
During the third year of law school you will start your marketing plan based on the interviews that you have done. YES START MARKETING BEFORE YOU ARE AN ATTORNEY. Work with a business coach to develop a marketing message. The business coach will also help you design how you will deliver legal services to fill the needs that other attorneys have not filled. The first half of your third year you should develop your business plan, and the second half of your third year you will begin implementing the business plan. Deliver that marketing message by email, networking, ect. according to your business plan.
At this point you will have many people who will say that they want you to fill their legal needs. Many law firms will want you because you come with a book of business right out of law school!! The challenge will be to find a law firm who will actually take your market research (the interviews) seriously and change the way they do things. If you find them you will then need to decide whether you want to implement your own business plan and launch your business or work for someone else and hope that they implement your business plan.
If you are concerned about not having experience, that is an easy problem to solve. There are plenty of attorneys who will look at this plan and say it is too hard. They just want to do legal work, and after 20 years of practicing law they will still say that this is too hard and you can hire them to get the work done for the clients that you will have on day one of opening your firm.