I have discovered since moving here that Houston, TX must hold some sort of magnetic force for lawyers under the grid of Interstates and public highways. I thought that it would be easier to set up a practice here than in my home town of Albany, New York.
I was wrong.
I actually live in Katy, which is a western suburb of the city itself. When I first moved here there were very few people in Katy, so I thought that I was getting the “jump” on the competition. As a personal injury attorney, I there are always more lawyers than there are clients who need them.
Whatever the case, I have learned a few things since establishing my practice, and although I do quite well now, it was touch-and-go at first. Houston is as unique a city as any other, and the demographics alone present an interesting set of challenges.
So here are a few suggestions for setting up your law practice in Houston, TX:
1. Learn to Speak Spanish
If possible, sign up for Spanish classes at the local communicty college (www.hcc.edu). This will help you immensely in seeking Spanish-speaking clients. Especially if you are a personal injury attorney, you will discover than in Houston, speaking their language is a benefit. It also helps to sponsor Spanish classes for administrative staff so that they, too, can field calls and answer questions.
2. Research the Area
As in most large metropolitan areas, Houston has dozens of burbs and neighborhoods. Research the city before you move (or start your practice) and determine the concentration of attorneys in those key areas. For example, in 2005 there was a lack of divorce attorneys in SugarLand, though that has since changed. Targeting a key area will help your practice to grow, and you will be able to serve your community with little or no competition.
3. Get Involved
There are thousands of ways to get involved in Houston, and while setting up your law practice, you can get to know your neighbors. Participate in block parties, charity events and fundraisers and don’t be afraid to pass around your card – everyone does. When I first moved to Houston I went to a tailgate party with one of my old colleagues who had also moved to the area. By the time we left for the evening, we each had about fifty business cards in our pockets. I used only about four, but it was a great experience nonetheless.
4. Provide Free Consultations
There are a definite lack of attorneys in Houston who are available to the public for free consultations. While this might see like a waste of your valuable time, you can provide a valuable service to the community while giving an incentive for more clients. List this fact in your Yellow Pages add and ask for referrals by placing “Free Consultation” on your business cards. You’ll be amazed at the results.
5. Be Yourself
Houston is a great place to exercise your individuality, and even most of the attorneys are pretty interesting people. Get to know fellow lawyers as well as your clients, and be friendly and open with new and prospective clients. Developing a personality is critical in setting up your law practice in Houston, TX.