There are many lawyers who want to follow their dream of opening their own legal practice in England. If you are considering taking this step, you need to know how to go about setting up your practice. There are a number of steps that you need to take to start your business and you need to know what each entails.
The SRA Form FA1
The best place to start when setting up your legal practice is the SRA’s 14-page FA1 form or Firm Authorization Application Form. This is the most important form that you will need to fill out and there may be more depending on the type of practice you are looking to open. All new legal practice owners are directed to consult the SRA Authorization Rules 2011 and the Practice Framework Rules to help complete this form.
Once you have the SRA Form FA1 and are starting to fill it out, you will notice that there are a number of business related questions that you need to answer. To complete these sections, you will need to complete some business planning. The business planning for your new legal practice will cover a number of areas and you need to carefully think about all of them.
The first is the type of management structure your practice will have and who will be responsible for compliance with different regulations. You will need to decide on who will be the COLP and who will be the COFA. You should also consider who will be responsible for adherence to anti-money laundering laws as well as training and supervision.
When planning your business, it is recommended that you consult with other professionals to cover the skills that you lack. If you are not aware of the benefits and drawbacks of different business models, you should consider consulting an accountant. If you are not sure how to attract clients to your new legal practice, you should hire someone familiar with marketing legal services. Consumers pay close attention to online reviews, and are increasingly well-informed when it comes to hiring legal counsel:
Financing Your Business
Once you have your business plan, you will need to establish a dialogue with the SRA. After this has been established you have to find financing for your business. There are a number of ways that you can finance your business with the most common being a starter loan from the bank. The bank will look at your business plan and determine whether or not they can loan you the money that you need.
If you are unable to procure financing from the bank, you can look at having investors. If you look at this funding option, you need to be aware that they will either own a portion of the business or need to receive dividends from the business.