Sign In
    Wisconsin Lawyer
    August 01, 2011

    Inside the Bar: Getting Started

    If you’re considering hanging out your own shingle, be sure to tap into State Bar member resources to help with the many details of setting up your own practice.

    George C. Brown

    Wisconsin LawyerWisconsin Lawyer
    Vol. 84, No. 8, August 2011


    George Brown

    A lawyer who has successfully gone out on her own after years of governmental service often receives calls from other lawyers wanting to start their own practices. She recently advised a young attorney, “The first thing you have to do is open a trust account.” He asked, “What’s that?”

    Many lawyers are opening their own practices. Some have had years of practice experience in larger firms. Others are fresh from law school. Many of them share a lack of understanding about the business side of the practice of law.

    Many members have asked us, “What is the State Bar doing to help lawyers starting their own practices?” Actually, quite a bit.

    There are several easy ways to get information and assistance. Start with the State Bar’s website, WisBar. Clicking on “Down Economy Resources” takes you to a Law Practice Management page, listing resources dealing with law-firm formations, career transitions, managing the stresses that come with setting off on your own, and more.

    Practice 411TM, the State Bar’s law practice management service, offers resources to manage the business side of law practice. Just click on the Practice 411 link under the WisBar banner. The annual Solo & Small Firm Conference (Oct. 27-29, 2011) also offers dozens of sessions to help you build and manage your practice. And, you have the services of the State Bar’s practice management advisor, attorney Nerino Petro. You can reach Nerino at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6012, or

    Performing adequate legal research can be one of the most expensive aspects of operating a law firm. The State Bar offers free access to statutes, cases, and administrative regulations for Wisconsin and the other 49 states, and all federal law including bankruptcy law, as part of your State Bar membership. Just go to WisBar and click on Fastcase. CaseLaw Express, sent weekly by email, lists and provides links to the most recent Wisconsin appellate court decisions. For overviews and analyses of selected Wisconsin court decisions and legislative developments, visit WisBar’s front page.

    Complying with the Rules of Professional Conduct, such as the rules regarding trust accounts, is vital for all attorneys. The State Bar’s ethics counsel, attorney Tim Pierce, can answer ethics questions. Reach Tim at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6168, or And this magazine’s practice-related content is on WisBar going back to 1997.

    These resources should help you get started, but to survive in practice, you need clients. Even here, the State Bar can help, with the Lawyer Referral and Information Service. LRIS member attorneys receive referrals from callers who need an attorney and have an ability to pay fees. Learn how to join LRIS at

    To learn more about these and many other practice-related resources for members, visit

Join the conversation! Log in to comment.

News & Pubs Search

Format: MM/DD/YYYY