"What do you think are the best cities to start my own law firm? Would it be smarter to start my own firm in a small or large market? For instance, should I open in a suburb of the metropolitan area where I live or within the city limits?"
The best cities to start your own law firm tend to be dependent on a lot of different things. The first is where you're from. That's often the most logical, especially if you feel like people that you grew up with think very positively of you and will constantly support you. That's because you'll have a network and be able to talk to other people and have people refer people to you. You'll know neighborhoods, and different people, and all that sort of thing, so that can be helpful. But the other thing to keep in mind also is it depends on the practice area.
If it were me, I would open in a larger market, so you have practice areas like immigration is good for large markets. Trust and estates is good for large markets. Family law to a great extent. Consumer-facing practice areas are very good for large markets because there's not a lot of competition. Most attorneys do not go into these practice areas, and you can do very well in large markets, doing consumer-facing practice. I always recommend to try to go into the large markets for a lot of these consumer-facing practice areas.
Other ones, like the personal injury, are going to be hard, but you could do it. Harder in large markets just because of the cost of advertising and reaching your target audience is going to be much more difficult. That's how I'd recommend that.
If you want to do general practice, you're much better off in small markets, which means you're doing everything for people. And then you also asked, should you open in the suburb of the metropolitan area you live in or should you open in the city limits? My advice would be suburb.
I'll tell you my own history. I was thinking about opening my own practice when I was practicing law. What I ended up doing was I lived in a city called San Marino, which is outside of Los Angeles next to Pasadena. I decided while I was practicing law to take out an ad in the Yellow Pages and to market my services in San Marino. The ad maybe back then cost $6,000 a year.
In my first three weeks of having the ad up, I got multiple clients. I would say six clients walk in off the street or call that were very good clients. One of them was a major divorce. I don't know why this guy hired me. I had no idea what I was doing. The other was a DUI, but it was $20,000 or $30,000 DUI. There were just all these very good clients that walked in, and I couldn't believe it. And this would've been hundreds of thousands of dollars in billable hours. I ultimately didn't take any of these cases or do anything with them because I was more interested in recruited at that point because I was learning about this business that I'm in, and it just made more sense to me.
But the point is that I was in a suburb, and in the suburb, the people wanted to work with people from that suburb, and so that was kind of the issue. Having been from an area is very important. If you're from an area in a suburb, then you can become a go-to person in that area, and that's great. You have to think about in terms of the practice area you're in and the location. But I do think suburbs are better if you want to open your own practice. I do think that having your own practice, for a lot of attorneys, especially if you want to learn about marketing and having your own business, it's an awesome idea.