The demand for the services of a law firm has been on the rise in recent times. Many of such firms are in existence today compare to what obtained in the early 90s.
The Legal Practitioners Act provides that a person shall be entitled to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor if, and only if, his name is on the roll i.e a gentleman either in trouser or skirt, who is fit, proper and called to the Nigerian Bar. In essence, a young barrister has the right to establish his own law firm.
Ambitious young lawyers who are goal getters and smart always want to set up shop when they feel the time is right. Here are ten tips that may guide them while starting their law firms into becoming one of the best law firms in Nigeria:
1. Business Plan
This is the planning stage and several factors should be taken into account. A business plan is a document containing information about a proposed firm, its goals and the financial projections for it. It is normally prepared by an Accountant for the owner.
A legal practitioner can also prepare his/her own busi. It is important for a legal practitioner who chooses to establish a law firm to have a business plan. A business plan acts as a management tool that can be referred to regularly to ensure the business is on course with meeting goals, sales targets or operational milestones.
The business plan will contain the following;
a. Name(s) of the practitioner
b. Name of the firm
c. Business Address
d. Business Start date
e. Types of firm etc
2. Get a conducive environment for your firm
Once you have a realistic objective, then setting up a law office is the next action plan to take. Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, Lawyers are prohibited from advertising their firm, area of practise and so on.
Having known that you might not get clients that easily, you might want to get a conducive area for your office. A location free of noise and air pollution, good routes getting there and other things that won’t discourage potential clients from coming your way.
Some lawyers, especially when they are starting out, may decide to work from home due to financing considerations. On the other hand, meeting with clients and running a practice at home is usually not a viable long-term option. So, selecting an office location from the start may be worthwhile. Also, sharing space in an office may decrease the financial impact on the lawyer or firm just starting out.
3. Get Your Law Office Registered
Every business in Nigeria is required by law to be registered with the Corporate affairs Commission, and to comply with the relevant provision of the Companies And Allied Matters Act, 2004. Laws being practiced as business is also required to be registered as such.
In registering such name as an individual you will only use Legal practitioner or LLp. Example Chioma Unini LLp or Chioma Unini Legal practitioner. The use of your name alone will not be registrable by Corporate Affairs Commission, example you cannot register your law office with the name Chioma Unini because you are already a legal person.
When two or more people are to enter into partnership, then in registering the law firm with CAC the name must have “& CO” for it to be registrable. For example: Maryjane, Kate & .CO. Registration of your law office is important in starting a law office.
4. Procure Your Office Equipment
Putting in place the necessary equipment for your law firm is the next thing to do. The basic furniture you need to procure include; desks, chairs, cabinets, book shelves, trash cans and recycling baskets. The second set of things you need to put in place are electronics which mainly include telephone system and requisite service, computers, software, printers, scanner photocopy machine, fax machine and calculator.
5. Notification of Establishment of Office
Legal Practitioners must notify the branch NBA of its location of its establishment. This notification must be made WITHIN 30 DAYS of establishment of the law office. This notice should contain the following;
a. Name of the lawyer or lawyers
b. Date of call to bar and enrolment
c. Address of the law office
The information is entered into the Register of the Nigerian Bar association which enables the NBA to take notice of such establishment. If there is any change of details or information such as address or name of chamber, same should also be communicated to the NBA. RULE 13(1) RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT. R.13(4)- of the Rules also provides for change of name or address and such notice to be given to the NBA.