Start a Solo Practice for Under $46,000 $57,000

We receive a lot of questions about how much it costs to start a solo law practice, particularly a successful practice with a web site, well-stocked bar, and good staplers. Estimates from so-called legal marketing experts range from $49.99 to $3,000. But as Scott Greenfield is quick to point out, most of these fly by night operations don’t budget for basic legal research, such as books, a set of Shepard’s, and a multi-disc tray to use for your dedicated Westlaw terminal. No worries, we’ve looked at the research, considered needed capitalization, and have come up with a solid bottom line.

You need $45,800 $56,800 (updated to reflect addition of Clover coffeemaker). Here’s how we break it down:

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  • Mahogany executive desk set (includes hutch and matching pen and pencil holder);
  • Rent at downtown office (we recommend negotiating for a substantial discount by signing a ten year lease). Optional: to accommodate quick growth, rent a total of two offices, receptionist space, a library, and a conference room.
  • Complete bound set of F.Supp., F.2d, and F.3d reporters (required regardless of practice area);
  • Complete bound set of regional reporters for your jurisidiction (budget extra for California and New York);
  • Custom built mahogany bookcases (6 total, at least), barrister style preferred;
  • PBX phone system with centralized voice mail and optional VoIP;
  • Optimized website package using Findlaw, Martindale-Hubbell lawyer locator, and;
  • Antique swivel lawyer wooden desk chair (solid oak, though mahogany preferred, typically unavailable);
  • Professionally designed logo;
  • Five reams of embossed printed letterhead with matching envelopes, note cards, and invoice templates;
  • Ten reams of watermarked second sheets;
  • Carbon paper;
  • Box of four-color business cards;
  • Umbrella holder and three monogrammed umbrellas;
  • Hat tree, mahogany;
  • Supply of at least 100 Red Roper file holders, legal sized;
  • 200 lined yellow legal pads, monogrammed;
  • Set of two dozen law firm logo mugs;
  • Mahogany in/out tray (for the desk);
  • Nameplates (on desk and outside of office door), engraved marble, mahogany base;
  • Case of Swingline 747 Business Staplers (budget extra if you want red)
  • Law firm cufflinks/charms (gold preferred, sterling silver if allergies prevent gold);
  • Subscription to WestLaw Next Premium (should include access to admiralty and barratry topic areas)
  • Half-page ad in the local Yellow Pages, with listings under at two practice areas;
  • Five monogrammed ties or scarves;
  • Kleenex box, mahogany;
  • Grandfather clock mahogany;
  • Well-stocked office bar (top-shelf liquor only);
  • Mini-refrigerator;
  • Ice service;
  • Coffee service;
  • Dell desktop computer and all-in-one fax/scanner/copier/printer;
  • Mimeograph machine (consider refurbished, if available);
  • Desktop blotter, mahogany underlay;
  • Microsoft Exchange Server for networked email and calendaring;
  • ProLaw or TimeMatters software;
  • Dot matrix printer (for invoicing);
  • Backup tape and storage solutions;
  • Filing cabinets, mahogany.
  • New! Clover Coffeemaker. Will actually bring in clients, solely to get a cup of coffee.


As you can see, we have a complete one-stop list that can get you on your feet and ready for business within a few days, one week maximum. While we may have left off some items (e.g., bankers boxes, snuff box, and snooker table), we generally felt that this is an “all-inclusive” set and that other items are generally optional. But if there are necessary items you think we have forgotten, let us know and we’ll consider adding them to our list (and likely updating the total). Good luck. And let us know how your financing works for you.


  1. lawsuitup says:

    You forgot the gold fountain. Everyone knows you are successful when you have a gold fountain.

  2. You left out the rug. You need something to tie the room together.

  3. Richard D. Allen says:

    Why so thrifty? For just an additional twenty thousand dollars you can add a really top-rate Web 3.0 website advertising your accomplishments in areas in which you may one day wish to practice and three bespoke Savile Row suits. I can’t count the number of times the cut of my suit has attracted the eye of a discerning client from across a busy thoroughfare.

    Richard D. Allen