Dean Standish Perkins & Associates

The Help You Need Starting Your Washington Law Firm

When starting a new law firm in Seattle or anywhere in Washington state, there is a number of things you will need to have in place. Some of these are essential and some are just helpful, but it is important to know all you can about setting up your practice.

At Dean Standish Perkins & Associates, we understand the challenges new attorneys face when going solo or starting a small law firm from scratch. In fact, in addition to being an exceptional lawyer with more than 35 years of experience, our lead attorney, Dean Standish “Stan” Perkins, actively offers help, guidance and assistance to young attorneys in the Seattle University School of Law Incubator Program. Below are some things to consider when starting your legal practice.

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1. Professional Licensing

    1. WSBA – Casemaker (Free Legal Research Tool)
    2. Court Admissions
      1. USDC – Western Washington
      2. USDC – Eastern Washington
      3. USCA – 9th Circuit
      4. Other federal courts
    3. CLEs

2. Organization/Entity Selection & Registration

    1. PS, PLLC, etc.
    2. Agent of Service designation
    3. Legal business address
    4. Permanent phone
    5. Permanent email
      1. Electronic voice mail

3. Business & Tax Registrations

    1. Washington Secretary of State
      1. Professional Registration, DBA, etc.
      2. UBI Number
    2. Washington State Department of Revenue
    3. Washington Department of Labor & Industries
      1. Only if employees
    4. IRS – EIN #
      1. Imperative for Bank Account, etc
    5. City of Seattle Business License
    6. King County Business License Requirements
      1. Personal Property Affidavit

4. Associations

    1. National – ABA, etc.
    2. State – Practice Area Chapters, WSAJ, WACDL, AILA, Etc.

5. Libraries

    1. King County Law Library
    2. UW Law Library
    3. Seattle University Law Library

6. Fee Agreements – By Practice Area – Check With Associations For Models

    1. Contingency
    2. Hourly
    3. Flat

7. Client Intake Forms – Paper And Electronic

    1. Automated Adobe into Excel

8. Insurance

    1. Professional Liability
    2. Medical

9. Banking

    1. IOLTA
      1. Opinion 177 Agreement?
    2. General business account
    3. Checks printed, etc.
    4. Electronic banking
    5. Credit card acceptance (not advised due to risk of chargebacks)

10. Electronic Court Filing Registration

    1. Federal PACER/ECR
    2. King County Efile
    3. Pierce County LINK

11. Software

    1. Office Suite – Word, Excel, etc.
    2. Adobe Acrobat Professional
    3. Accounting Software

12. Court Records Search Accounts Registration

    1. State Patrol – Collision reports
    2. SCOMIS
    3. King County ECR online
      1. Superior
      2. District

13. Library – Office

    1. Washington State Court Rules Book – Essential
    2. Evidence handbook

14. Office Location

    1. Lease agreements
      1. Premises insurance, locks, keys, access cards
    2. Office furniture
    3. Parking – Self
    4. Parking – Clients

15. Printing – Paper

    1. Announcements
    2. Business cards
    3. Letterheads
    4. Envelopes
    5. Pleading paper
    6. Crack-and-peel mailing labels

16. Printing – Electronic

    1. Letterhead
    2. Website
    3. Email w/ IRS disclaimer
    4. Electronic signature

17. Equipment

    1. Scanner
    2. Photocopier
    3. Printer
    4. Telephone
    5. Supplies
      1. Label maker, files, 3 ring binders
      2. Calendar
      3. Calculator
      4. 3 hole, 2 hole, stapler, tape, stapler remover, pens, pads, stickies, etc.

18. Rubber Stamps

    1. Received, date and name
    2. Name and address
    3. Banking deposit general
    4. Banking deposit IOLTA
    5. Client copy, judges copy, original, etc.

19. Postage

    1. com

20. Vendors

    1. ABC Legal – Service of process
    2. Others

21. Marketing

    1. Avvo
    2. LinkedIn
    3. co
    4. Martindale-Hubbell
    5. Lists from associations
  1. Advertising – Caution
  2. Website – Caution

Do Not Try To Build Your Firm Alone

Although you might be a brilliant lawyer, starting and operating a law firm is a business, requiring all the skills and details involved with that endeavor. The most important thing to remember is that even a solo law firm cannot be operated alone. Get help and advice whenever possible. If you are a recent graduate of the Seattle University School of Law who might be interested in the Incubator Program that helps young lawyers build their practices, call our firm at 206-981-5043 or email us to talk with attorney Stan Perkins.