How to Write a Business Plan for Your Law Firm

Starting a law firm can be overwhelming – where do you start and how do you know you’re making the right decisions for your business? A business plan can help to guide you as you get your firm up and running and even as it continues to grow. So what goes into a business plan and how do you write one?

Below, we’ll walk you through each step of writing your business plan so you can get your firm on the path to success.

What Is a Business Plan?

Before we dive into the details of how to write your business plan, let’s talk about what a business plan is. A business plan details exactly what you want to achieve with your firm and how you’ll meet those goals. It should include why you chose to start your firm, what your major goals are, your budget, how you’ll gain clients, and so on.

Why Is It Important?

Although it may seem tedious, taking the time to write out a business plan is a critical step in establishing your firm. It will be your roadmap as you grow your business, helping you stay on track and achieve what you want with your firm. Instead of making decisions on the fly based on gut feelings, you’ll be making educated decisions based on your plan.

It’s important to note that your business plan may not stay exactly the same. As you’re writing it, you may find that certain approaches you had planned to use won’t work. And as your business continues to grow and change, you may find that you need to rewrite certain parts of your business plan.

Draft Your Executive Summary

The first piece of the business plan for your law firm is an executive summary. This summary should be one page long and should give a high-level overview of all the key points of your business plan. Ironically, it may be easiest to draft your executive summary at the end of the business plan writing process.

There are a few key components you should include in your executive summary.

Primary Goals

Take a look at the overall goals you want to achieve with your firm. What does success look like for you, and what kind of impact do you want to make with your business? Why are you launching this firm in the first place, and where do you want it to be in five years?

Examples of goals for your firm can include: “Close twenty-five cases a year,” “Grow to a firm of eight to ten lawyers,” or “Gain a reputation as a top law firm in the area.” Remember, focusing on SMART goals can be helpful during this stage. 

Mission Statement

It’s also important to write a mission statement for your law firm. This statement should be two to three sentences long and should succinctly state your firm’s reason for opening and what it’s trying to accomplish. This may include the sort of service you want to provide for your clients, as well as the impact you want to have on your community.

A sample mission statement may be:

John Smith & Associates fights for the people, working to help accident victims get full and fair compensation for their injuries. Our lawyers are tireless as we gather evidence to support the client’s story and negotiate with insurance companies, and we fight for every single case like it was our own.

Your mission statement will later be published on your website, so make sure it’s written from a client-focused perspective.

Core Values

You’ll need to take some time during your business planning process to write down the core values that you’ll use to guide your company. These are what your employees will think about when interacting with customers and what you’ll refer back to when making decisions. Your core values should reflect both your beliefs as an employer and the goals you laid out for your firm.

An example of core values might include, 

We go above and beyond for our clients, focusing on how this injury impacts their life and doing everything in our power to get them the compensation they deserve. We are always looking for opportunities to improve, and we will never settle for ‘close enough.’ We will stay on the cutting edge of the field, always striving to provide the best, easiest process for our clients.

Unique Selling Proposition

The final piece of your executive summary is your unique selling proposition. There are about 135,000 personal injury lawyers in the United States. Why should your clients choose you over all the other lawyers in your area?

Your unique selling proposition may include the years of experience your team has, any awards you’ve won, and how much you’ve recovered for previous clients. If anyone on your team has experience working on the other side of the industry (e.g., defending insurance companies) that unique perspective can also be a selling point. Overall, this proposition should answer the question, “Why should I hire you to handle my case?”

Write a Firm Description

Your firm description will begin to dive into more detail about how your business will operate and what sort of services you’ll offer.

Location and Areas Served

It’s a good idea to start by discussing where you’ll locate your firm and what areas you’ll serve. Depending on where you live and the number of states you’re licensed in, this can be a relatively broad geographic area. It’s important to find a balance between casting a broad enough net to get a good client pool and stretching yourself too thin.

You may want to pick one central location for your firm that will serve as your headquarters and then expand your areas of service to the surrounding neighborhoods. 

You’ll also need to figure out the legal structure of your business and how ownership will work. Will you operate as an LLC, a partnership, or a sole proprietorship? If you plan to operate as an LLC or a partnership, who will be the members/partners at the time of launch?

A sole proprietorship gives you total control of your business, but it does tie your business assets to your personal assets, meaning you can be held personally liable for debts and obligations of the business. A partnership can give unlimited liability to one partner and limited liability (as well as limited control in the business) to all partners. An LLC protects all owners from full liability and also comes with tax advantages.

Client Approach

This is also the moment to decide how you want to approach client service. This will be the face you present to clients, as well as a guiding principle in your legal strategies. As such, your client approach should be connected to your core values, mission statement, and primary goals.

For example, your client approach might be:

We treat every client’s case as we would like our own to be handled. We are tireless in pursuing justice and will advocate fiercely for our clients with insurance agencies and in courtrooms.

Firm History

Even though this is the beginning of your firm’s operation, it’s still a good idea to write down a history of your firm. Starting this document now will give you something to work from as you continue to document your firm’s story. It can also be a good addition to your website.

At the beginning, your firm history will be a little closer to a bio. Talk about your education, including any honors you received during your undergraduate or law school years. You can also dive into any previous legal experience you have, as well as why you decided to start your own law firm.

Conduct Market Analysis

Now that you have a good grasp on how your firm will be structured, it’s time to turn your attention to where it will sit in the market. This research will give you an idea of how to bring in clients and beat out the competition. It will also help to guide your marketing strategy later on in the business plan.

Industry Description

Start your market analysis by writing a description of your local industry. This should include the current size of the legal market your firm is in, as well as its projected growth over the next few years. How many competitors will you be facing, and how many potential clients will you all be competing for?

Your industry description should include the population of the area you plan to serve, as well as the number of lawyers in your particular niche. Information about how many cases are likely to appear in your area may also be helpful. For instance, if you’re a personal injury lawyer, knowing the number of car accidents that happen each year in your area, as well as how many of those cause severe injuries, can be helpful.

Target Audience

Once you have a better picture of your overall industry, it’s time to start identifying your target audience. You may want to write a target customer profile as part of this process. The more specific you can get with this description, the easier it will be to fine-tune your marketing messaging.

Your target customer description should include your ideal client’s gender, age range, economic status, and circumstances that led them to need a lawyer. You may also include their level of education, the type of job they might hold, whether they have families, and so on. 

Demographic Motivation

With your target customer description nailed down, you’ll want to start delving a little deeper into their motivations. What do they look for in a lawyer, and why do they choose one firm over another? What is their primary goal in pursuing their case, and what will they view as a successful result?

When you understand this motivation, you’ll be able to target your marketing to answer those desires. You can also decide which clients will be a good fit for your firm. When you know what demographic motivation you want to look for in a client, you can refer those who have different motivations to another firm that may be a better fit for them.

Competitive Analysis

At this point in your business plan, you’ll want to take a closer look at your competition. During the industry description section, you should have tallied up roughly how many lawyers in your niche are practicing in your area. Now you’ll need to spend some time digging into the top two or three who will be your primary competition.

Determine which firms provide the same services you do, hold the largest market share in your area, or are located near your offices. Once you have your shortlist of competitors, start doing your research into them, examining how they approach their marketing and branding and what sort of unique value proposition they offer their clients. From there, you can decide how you’ll set yourself apart from them and earn clients’ trust.

Expected Costs

You’ve got your industry, audience, and competition figured out, so now it’s time to turn your attention to finances. You’ll need to know how much to expect to spend per case. This number can vary by market, so it’s a good idea to research expected costs in your area.

Your expected cost calculations should include the expenses you’ll accrue in acquiring the case, as well as the average fees that will go into closing the case. This will help you decide how you need to set up your fee structure when you get to the financial plan stage of your business plan.

Set Up Your Organization and Management Overview

At this stage, it will be time to turn your attention to how your organization will be set up and managed. 

Partners and Staff

The first thing you’ll need to decide is how many partners you’ll have and how many staff you need. Remember, as your firm grows, this number can change. And depending on the size of your firm when you’re just starting out, you may have only yourself as a partner and no staff.

If you do have more than one person in your firm, decide who will be partners and who will be associate attorneys. From there, you can start figuring out how many people you’ll need on staff to support your attorneys – paralegals, intake specialists, administrative assistants, and so on.

Educational Background

At this stage, you’ll also want to start writing bios for all your attorneys. This content will be useful to include on your website, as well as on attorney review websites. You can start by writing up some information about everyone’s educational background.

Begin by discussing your undergraduate education, including what you majored in and any significant accomplishments you earned during that time. Then move on to your law school education. Be sure to include any awards you earned, academic groups you belonged to, and any accolades you received.


After you finish the education section of your bios, it will be time to start outlining your experience. This can start with any clerkships you completed during or after law school. You should also include any internships you participated in, as well as any previous legal jobs you’ve held.

It may sound counterintuitive, but if you have experience working on the opposing side of your field, you may want to highlight that in your bio. For instance, you may be a personal injury lawyer who previously worked in insurance defense or a criminal defense attorney who was previously a prosecutor. Having this experience can give you a unique insight into the tactics your opponents will likely use in court and can be a draw for potential clients.

Qualifications for Leadership

Finally, you’ll want to round off your attorney profiles by discussing the particular qualifications for leadership each partner has. Why are they in charge of the firm, and what particular strengths do they bring to the organization? Do they have previous leadership experience, and what is their management style?

Determine Which Specific Services You’ll Offer

With your organizational chart complete, you’ll need to start determining which specific services you’ll offer.

Problems You Plan to Address

Rather than just listing off services willy-nilly, it’s best to start this section by discussing the problems you want to address with your firm. If you’re a criminal defense lawyer, maybe you want to help people avoid unjust prison sentences. If you’re a personal injury lawyer, you might want to stand up against the insurance companies cheating injury victims out of their rights.

Lay out the problems you want to fix in your community and why. Dig into which injustices rankle the most for you and what you would like to see happen in these cases. Consider which specific pain points your potential clients experience and discuss how you’ll address those issues.

Solutions You’ll Provide

Once you know what problems you want to fix, you can start brainstorming about what solutions you’d like to provide. Make sure to delve into how your solutions will better resolve your clients’ needs and address their pain points. Refer back to the list of problems you just made as you’re deciding what solutions you want to tackle.

It’s also a good idea to discuss the benefits your services will provide to your clients and why they would choose you over another firm. What makes your services unique, and is there a particular niche you plan to focus on?

Overview of Your Competition

The conversation of which service to offer will naturally include discussion of the services your competitors offer. You’ll need to see what services you’ll be competing against, as well as any gaps they may have in their service offerings. If no one else in your area is currently handling a certain type of case, you’ll have a unique opportunity to corner the market.

You should also look for any pain points clients may be experiencing with these specific competitors. Do they have reviews that complain about poor customer service or a misrepresentation of costs? These are opportunities for you to get an edge on your competitors and provide a better experience for clients.

Unoffered Services

At this stage, you will also need to decide which services you don’t want to offer. This may include an entire class of cases or simply cases that don’t meet certain thresholds. Choosing not to offer these services doesn’t mean you’re limiting your business; it just means that you’re focusing on the cases that will bring the best value to your firm.

Establish Your Marketing Strategy

By now, you should be starting to get a good handle on your firm and how it will work. So it’s time to turn your attention to your marketing strategy.


Start by taking a look at your unique selling proposition that you drafted and using it to decide what positioning you’ll use for your marketing. Your positioning is the starting point for your marketing and the way you’ll portray your firm to potential clients. This will be connected to your unique selling proposition, your mission statement, your core values, your target client, and your client approach.

Will you position yourself as a reliable, trustworthy legal service provider who will approach each case with compassion and care? Or will you take the stance of a fierce advocate who will be tough on the opposition and go to the mat fighting for your client? The ads you run will be very different depending on what tone you decide to go with.

Promotion Channels

You’ll also need to spend some time thinking about what promotion channels you want to use to market your firm. There are plenty of options, from traditional advertising like television and radio to social media to more creative marketing outlets. You may want to run billboards, bus ads, or even truck ads with companies like InMotion.

Traditional promotion channels can be a great way to reach a broader audience, but they are more expensive. Social media is much more affordable, but you may see a somewhat lower conversion rate. And the more creative outlets may be a little rarer to find, but they can help to reach all new segments of your target market.


Of course, you’ll need to settle on a budget for your marketing efforts. This will impact every part of your marketing strategy, including which channels you use. It will also depend heavily on both your firm size and your location; if you’re in a major city, your marketing budget will need to be a lot bigger than if you’re in a more rural area.

As part of your budget, you need to plan to take a marketing “tax” out of every dollar of revenue you make. A percentage of all these profits should get funneled right back into your marketing. This will help your business to keep growing and will keep your marketing budget on track with that growth.


Before you launch your marketing strategy, you need to decide which key performance indicators you’ll be using to measure your success. You’ll use these as time goes on to tweak your marketing strategy and make sure it’s working well for you. You may need to adjust the channels you’re marketing through, shift your budget, change your messaging, and so on.

There are dozens of KPIs you can track, depending on your particular goals and which marketing channels you’re using. You may want to track your email open rate, your social media engagement rate, your ROI on marketing, your total cost of acquisition per client, and so on. 

Create a Financial Plan

The final step in writing your business plan will be to create your financial plan. This will lay out where all the money in your firm will come from, where it will go, and what the end result will be.

Starting Capital

You may have heard the phrase “You have to spend money to make money,” and that applies to starting a law firm. You need to have some starting capital to get your firm off the ground, and laying out where these funds will come from is an important part of your business plan. 

Start by making a list of financial resources you’ll be drawing on to launch your business. This may include personal savings accounts, loans from family or friends, investments from financial benefactors, or bank loans. Estimate how much money you’ll be able to pull from each source other than loans and then determine how much you’ll need to borrow to get your firm going.

Monthly Operating Costs

Next, you’ll need to estimate how much it will cost you to keep your firm running each month. This will be the starting point to determine how much revenue you’ll need to bring in in order to keep growing and turn a profit.

Your monthly operating costs may include office space rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, software costs, salaries, and tech maintenance. You may also need to factor in any CLE costs, marketing expenses, branding costs, web design and maintenance, and more. Get as detailed as you can with this section – little details like office supplies or cleaning fees can add up in a hurry.

Number of Cases You Need to Close

Once you have a full estimate of your monthly operating costs, you can start figuring out how many cases you’ll need to close per year to keep up with your costs. Part of this calculation will include estimating how much revenue you’ll earn from each case. You also need to consider how many cases you’ll be able to reasonably handle with the staff size you currently have.

Try to be both specific and realistic in this section. Estimating your revenue will help you ensure that you’re bringing in enough money to stay afloat. Make sure each lawyer in your firm has a large enough caseload to keep them consistently busy without overwhelming them and base your case closure number on that.

Projected Profit and Loss

The final step in writing your financial plan (at least the first draft) will be drawing up a projected profit and loss statement. Your profits will include the net revenue from all the cases you close (your revenue minus any costs you accrued to acquire and close the case). Your losses will include all the operating expenses you listed out earlier. 

Your profit and loss statement can help you figure out how to optimize your firm’s spending. Look for any losses you can cut without compromising the client experience or your firm’s effectiveness. And make sure you’re getting the maximum reasonable profit from your staff and attorneys. 

It’s important to note that this first financial plan you write is far from the last version you’ll write. Your financial plan will need to change as your firm grows and as you get more grounded ideas of what these details look like. Using this framework and updating your financial plan on a regular basis can help you keep your firm on track for success.

Additional Resources

Writing a business plan can help you figure out not only who your firm is and what you want to accomplish with it, but also how it will operate day-to-day. Start by outlining your firm’s goals and describing who you plan to serve. Then conduct some market analysis, set up your organizational structure, decide on what services you’ll offer, establish your marketing strategy, and create a financial plan.

If you’d like to find more resources to grow your firm the smart way, check out the rest of our resource pages. We cover everything from how to manage SEO to PPC advertising and more. And if you’d like to start getting honesty, transparency, and results from your marketing firm, reach out to us at LawRank!

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