After serving for several years in a large firm, many lawyers consider creating their own office. What is the best time to launch on your own without taking too many risks, how to successfully open a law firm? Advice from Maude Fréchette, partner lawyer and co-founder of Yulex.
Setting out on your own is the dream of many lawyers. Before jumping in, it is necessary however to be aware of the effort and difficulties that await us. “We should expect many hours of work,” Maude Fréchette says. “It is also a heavy investment, because it’s necessary to hire staff, rent an office, buy furniture, negotiate with suppliers… I did not think that this administrative management would take so much time!”
After working many years in a well known firm, Maude Fréchette and three partners opened Yulex, a firm that specializes in business law, intellectual property, technology, commercial litigation and tax. To choose its field of activity, she advises relying on the needs of the market and on your skills. “When you do a bit of everything, you excel in nothing,” she says. “It’s important to find your niche to be differentiated on the market. If you are doing penal, criminal and civil all at the same time, you are spread out.”
When is the perfect time to successfully open a law firm?
Whether just leaving school or after working in a firm, the right moment to open your own office depends on each individual, Maude Fréchette believes. “There is no best time, you have to find your own momentum. A great deal of energy must be invested, so it must be at a time in our lives when we want to do it, when we’re not afraid to get started and are determined to go for it.”
Whether from lack of work or from an entrepreneurial spirit, more and more young lawyers are deciding to go into business. Admiring their determination, the experienced lawyer advises first practising for some time among professionals. “It will take several years to be comfortable in law. The ideal is to get some experience in a firm to see how it goes and get some internal mentoring,” she explains. “It also lets you see how to manage a business and learn the basics of the administrative dimension.”
Alone or with partners?
Before setting out, a fundamental question must be asked: go it alone or in a team? Maude Fréchette got this response through personality tests. “I wanted to see if I was a team leader or if it would be better for me to go it alone in my firm,” she recounts. The lawyer decided to partner with long-time colleagues. “Leaving with several let me share tasks and to challenge myself. Running a law firm means managing human resources, clients, etc. It requires major skills in many areas.”
Open a law firm may require hours of hard work, a well-crafted market strategy and a significant investment, but the challenge can be well worth the effort! “You create your own company according to your personality and give it the colour you want,” concludes Maude Fréchette. “In the end, it’s very exciting… And I’m never going back!”