Updated: Sept. 5, 2019

Want to Start Your Own Law Practice?

You're in good company. In the most recent WSBA licensing cycle, 44% of respondents identified as a solo or small-firm practitioner.

But keep in mind that practicing law and running a law office are two very different things, even if you have previous experience in a law firm.

Do not accept new matters until you lay the foundation for your new practice. This means setting goals, obtaining business licenses, finding services and technology, and setting up workflow systems.

Fortunately, there are resources to help you navigate the process:

Don't see what you're looking for? Contact us.

Start with the Basics

1. Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a road map to guide your marketing campaigns, networking, and business formation. It should include your fee arrangements, budgets, business strategies, etc.

More information:

The U.S. Small Business Administration  |  Tools and tips for opening a business
Small Business Toolkit | a useful toolkit on BizFillings.com
SCORE.org | a website dedicated to helping people start, run, and grow a business

582 KB

2. Form a Business Entity

Accepting fees for your services means that you must acquire a business license from the state of Washington and for from the municipality where your practice is located or conducts business.

More information:

State of Washington Business Licensing Service  |  Learn about business entity formation and licensing
Small Business Guide  |  Licensing guide from the state of Washington

3. Set Up Your Bank and IOLTA Accounts

Banks often ask for your Federal Identification Number (EIN) before you can open a business checking account or a trust (IOLTA) account.

Visit our IOLTA and Client Trust Accounts page.

More information:

Legal Foundation of Washington  |  See the list of financial institutions that are eligible to provide trust accounts

Review WSBA Guides

These free guides are available online to help you learn more about practice management.

Receive Personalized Advice

Members of the WSBA are eligible for free, 30-minute confidential consultations by phone. Find out more about consultations from WSBA.

Get Law Office in a Box

Law Office in a Box® is a collection of resources (now available online for free!) that includes practice management forms for quick modification and use, a guide with step-by-step instructions on opening a law office, and other compiled resources that help the new solo-practitioner get started successfully.

Learn more.

Find Software and Services

Check out the WSBA Practice Management Discount Network for discounts on products and services you can use in your practice.

More information:

American Bar Association  |  Start-Up Tech for Any Budget
ABA Law Practice Division  |  Legal Technology Resource Center

Consider Buying a Practice

If you’re considering going solo, you might be interested in purchasing an established practice from another attorney who is retiring or transitioning to another field.

For more information, visit our page on buying a practice.