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Setting up a criminal defence firm

Video Transcript

So you finish your studies, you work for two years in a criminal defence firm, your thinking about starting up your own practice.

Now here are ten tips for starting up your own practice as a criminal defence firm.

Now I started my practice in 2001.

It was called Nedim Lawyers criminal defence specialists.

I wish I had some of these tips when I started up back then because I made a lot of mistakes; still making mistakes; but here are some tips that may be able to help.

The first thing is to choose a relevant business name.

Now as I said we use to be called Nedim Lawyers.

Now we’re called Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

Now in that short name it tells you everything you want to know about our firm.

It’s quite important to have a relevant business name just for that reason so people know what you’re about.

Now I don’t agree with people calling their firms after their own surname, this doesn’t really say what you’re about.

That’s the first thing, having a relevant business name.

There are some good names around, we are Sydney Drug Lawyers, Sydney Assault Lawyers, we’re even Sydney Family Lawyers.

So those types of names that talk about what the firm is about is an important thing in my view.

The second thing is to choose a relevant domain name.

Now when I started up years ago I purchased the domain name criminallaw.com.au.

Now although it’s a powerful domain name it doesn’t exactly say what we’re about.

We recently got sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

Now thats very good for two reasons.

Number one, when someone does a search under Google for a criminal lawyer in Sydney it comes up and ranks well.

Number two, it’s our business name.

So try and get a a domain name that’s the same as your business name and of course describes what you’re about.

That’s the second thing that i think you should consider doing.

The third is to build an impressive website.

Now it doesn’t have to be a very, very expensive website.

You can get a good website for two thousand dollars or three thousand dollars.

But it should be a website that has an easy to use content management system or CMS.

That means you can go in there and upload pages, do blogs and it should have social sharing buttons such as Facebook and LinkedIn and those types of buttons.

That’s very good for search engine optimisation.

So again when someone does a search it ranks well.

It should be a clean site, crisp site, and it should be able to convey a lot of information.

Always share your information.

I remember years ago that lawyers never used to put up information about certain areas of law.

People will respect you if you share your information, laws not a secret, and give them the information and you’ll gain respect and release that information on your website.

The fourth step is to rent a small office near a court.

Now I started up in Chatswood many years ago.

There are no courts in Chatswood, the nearest is Hornsby and Manly is not too far away, North Sydney.

Those are the nearest courts.

However we’re now in the city, across the road from the Downing Centre.

I think there’s a great benefit in being right next to a court.

People can see where you are, and in the morning you can meet the client and take them across the road to the court or nearby to the court.

So rent a small office near a court that’s quite important.

The fifth tip is trust accounting system.

Now for many years we did our trust accounts, and trust accounts are when clients deposit money into a bank account and you draw upon those fees as and when legal costs become due and payable.

Now we did them manually for many years.

Big mistake.

Do not do them manually.

Get an electronic trust accounting system.

The one I use is called covenant.

So just like the wine covenant; c-o-v-e-n-a-n-t; and it really allows you to quickly simply enter entries into the trust account, withdrawal from the trust account, and if you’re about to make an error it will tell you.

It’s very good.

It’s recommended by the law society.

It’s one of the ones that the law society endorses.

And I suggest that you start up with an electronic trust accounting system straight away.

Now the sixth thing is to create good templates, precedence, and systems.

Now you can borrow templates from another law firm, for example I freely give my templates; so you know the letterhead, the construction of the different fax cover sheets, and things we use here are freely accessible.

Video transcription by YouTube

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