I need someone willing to “train” me [on tax issues] … before I begin taking cases from paying clients. 1/05

 I am a new lawyer about to go solo. I have obtained my certification and can now take court appointed cases. I am running an ad in the newspaper. I have an office set up and so far I am just about ready to go. The one thing I have not resolved yet is who will be my accountant. I do not have much money to hire a full time person to work on my billings and taxes so I need someone with knowledge of attorney tax issues and someone willing to “train” me on what needs to be done before I begin taking cases from paying clients. Where do I go?

A number of resources may help you find the kind of accounting services you are looking for. If you are simply looking for the name of a good person, your local bar organizations may be a good place to start. The Mass. Bar Association has a mentoring program that can be reached by calling 617 338-0500. The Boston Bar has something similar, the Peer Assistance Program, that can be accessed online at www.BostonBar.org (click Attorneys, then Counseling & Support). Good leads might be also found through your local Small Business Administration, or Chamber of Commerce, as well as other sole practitioners. Succinctly clarify for yourself exactly what services you think you need in order to effectively “interview” possible candidates. You’ll probably be looking for a compatible personality with relevant experience who comes well recommended and who can give you the amount of availability you require at an acceptable cost. Remember, your search can double as a networking opportunity: to introduce yourself and your legal services to potential clients, not just potential service providers.

If you are also looking for more general information on financial management of your practice, you might check out MCLE’s (Mass. Continuing Legal Education) website (www.mcle.org) which offers a course entitled “Hanging Your Shingle.” It’s a 2-½ day course that begins 3/10/05 and provides useful information on various aspects of launching a practice, including financial and accounting issues. MCLE also sells the course on tape, as well as companion books. Certain books on establishing a law practice might also be useful. One that looks good to us based on a web site search is How to Start & Build a Law Practice, 5th Ed (2004) by Jay Foonberg. There are others and you may want to do your own search. We wish you all the best in getting started and growing your practice!

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